1. Who is Alkota Beats?
Well I’m Alkota, I’ve been doing music for about 10 years, and I’ve been trying to perfect my craft every since. As a producer, I found myself in a lot of different roles as my music matured. I live in Alaska which rendered me a bit geographically challenged, so it really made me step my internet and marketing game up. I really just tried to focus and work hard at creating my brand so that I could earn a living doing this.
2. So let’s begin with the whole internet music business. Exclusive or non-exclusive licensing; which is better for the industry in your opinion?
Well, at this point, I feel like I’d have to say exclusive licensing. I think non-exclusive licensing has really diluted the value of people’s music. I mean, I do leases and it’s decent money, but at this point I think leases are self-defeating. You have one person that buys a beat from you, records a song, and then you get another person doing the same…it doesn’t really excel your music. Then, you have 10 videos out to that one track and you can see where this goes. You can make money doing this, but at this point I think most producers should move to strictly exclusive beats. You don’t help your brand by recycling your music over and over. Some do well leasing, others don’t. I think producers as a whole should move toward exclusive only music.
3. With that said, how do you get your brand of music out there then? Do you recommend just finding a local artist and giving them all of your music, hoping it takes off or what?
Basically, find a person you want to work with, shop them your music, and if they don’t respond…keep it moving. It works a few different ways: You can find people that are talented, but they don’t have the motivation it takes. They’ll never do anything with your music. Personally, I’ve been lucky to work with people that do have a following and a movement which allows my music to get heard. You do have be selective, though. Not everyone that you want to work with will be the best person to promote your music. Even though you may be a fan of them, or have a dream of working with them, it doesn’t always work to your advantage. This brings me to another point; I’m definitely down for collaborating when it’s mutually beneficial. I don’t think producers should give out their music for free…I think you perfect your craft and then build on that. You only should give away music when it makes sense as opposed to offering free beats as a gimmick.
4. Soundclick or Soundcloud?
I say Soundcloud. It’s cross-platform. You can share and embed on multiple websites, blogs, etc. The amount of exposure it gets, as far as songs on Soundcloud, far exceeds Soundclick. You also get immediate feedback from the comments…there’s groups. There’s a lot of stuff from the social side that makes more sense. I never had a bunch of luck on Soundclick. I do know there are guys on there killing it. Obviously, get both. Try them out. But in my opinion, I say Soundcloud. It’s supportive of HTML 5, flash, and more promotion of your music.
5. Your twitter following has progressively increased over the last year. Let us know the proper ways to use it effectively. What do you see people doing well and not so well?
Well, I think numbers definitely can lie. I’ve seen people with hundreds of thousands of followers; which can have no value. It’s just a number. I think the key is actually engaging people instead of constant self promotion. It’s easy to promote yourself constantly, but when everyone does it, it’s just spam all day long! “Check this out, look at this!” I’ve noticed that if you take the time to ask a question or engage somebody, you can start dialogue. Someone else may chime in and comment and so on. Usually, a Twitter account is an extension of what someone is thinking at the moment. Constantly posting every single thought is self-defeating. I mean, I’ve done it myself! So to answer your question of using it effectively, I think it’s a matter of following people you like–people that you believe in what they’re doing. I don’t believe in the whole the follow-back thing. People take Twitter too personal and with that mentality you’ll be disappointed in Twitter for sure.
6. You’re the mastermind behindwww.hiphopdrumsamples.com, a boutique drum sample superstore. With that said, your ear is definitely to the street in the genre of hip-hop. Where do see the genre going? Is it moving in a good direction?
Well, as far as hip-hop goes, I think we’re in a state of…well, there’s just too much. Too much out there. I think people need to sit back and chill and focus on putting out quality content. It sounds cliche’, but people need to stop joining the stream of people putting music out one day, and it’s forgotten the next day. But on the flip side, if your record is dope and you have the right promotion behind it, you’re definitely going to stand out. For someone that’s up and coming, you can really get taken in by all this “noise” that’s out there. For instance, looking at blogs all day will just frustrate you. I think it’s in a strange position now because people aren’t buying music that much. There’s so much out there that’s free. People promote their music, build their buzz and fan base, and then want them to purchase the music. This is generally not how people are making their money these days. Shows, performances, licensing is where they’re making money. Building a fanbase is one thing, but then what do you want them to do? Do you want them to listen to you, or buy your music, or what? I think we’ve gotten to the point where we listen to someone for a few days and then move on to the next best thing…the next act. I think technology is to blame for that though. You can make music quicker, cheaper, and easier. It’s more competitive. There just needs to be more quality.
Quality over quantity, huh?
Exactly. There’s nothing wrong with taking a break and not putting out a million mix-tapes or beat-tapes. Chill on the mix-tapes. Everyone needs to take a look at what they want to do and what their objective is. If you want to keep feeding into the noise, keep putting shit out every week. It’s not like it use to be.
7. What do you think about the jack-of-all-trade types? In other words, if my bio states I’m a producer/engineer/artist/songwriter/videographer/writer/graphic designer…
I think you start out like that to an extent. It can get expensive early on outsourcing these areas. However, it should get to the point where you’re focusing on and isolating what you’re good at. Developing that skill set. It’s easy to get your hands in all of this stuff, but then be mediocre about it. I’ve shot videos before…made some money from it. I’m not the best director. At some point, it’s a complete waste of time though. That’s time that I could have spent working on music, building new drum kits, or developing business partnerships. People should specialize in one thing. If you have the means, pay someone for their expertise. If you don’t have the proper environment for mixing, don’t spend all your time mixing. Send it to someone that does it right and within the right environment. Same with graphic design. There’s the dopest of graphic designers and then there’s…you. You know? Just do what you’re good at. I’m guilty of it too, but I like to reevaluate what I’m doing from time to time. You have to know when to give up certain stuff and also know what to pursue.
8. We’ve seen your brand grow. We’ve seen your associations and co-signs and where you’ve been able to take the drum sample game. What’s been you’re biggest idea yet and how’d you come up with it?
Well, the biggest idea would have to be the flash drives. The MPC and SP-1200 flash drives. I was in Barnes & Nobles one day and ran across an article on a couple in Entrepreneur Magazine. The couple were artists and it was about a custom usb drive they did after their cartoon characters. Instantly the idea popped in my head…why not do a drum machine flash drive? I pulled the trigger immediately. I started with the 808, Sp-1200, NS-10, and MPC. That got me in the door with a lot of people. It’s an awesome novelty product. That got my foot in the door and allowed me to speak with people in the industry I never had access to. They all knew of me as the guy who did the flash drives. It was good transition too…a transition into a different part of the industry that wasn’t already tapped into. This was definitely the icing on the cake for me.