Almostfreebeats.com Founder Zee sits down for an exclusive interview with the multi-talented hip hop producer, Urban Tactics.
@Zeeofafb: Thanks for taking the time to sit down and answer a few questions for the Almost Free Beats community. I sincerely appreciate it. Please take a moment and introduce yourself and your company to the blog audience.
@Urb Tactics: What’s good everyone? I go by the name of Urb Tactics (Urb was shortened from urban due to trademark issues) and my company is called “URB TACTICS MZK.” I’ve been in music period for about 16 years and didn’t start using “real” equipment until about 2003/04 so I’ve had my hands on a lot of stuff since I’ve been doing this for over half my existence.
@Zeeofafb: How did you become interested in music production? Did you grow up around musicians? Do you have family members that influenced you?
@Urb Tactics: Actually, there was absolutely no family influence whatsoever. When i was a kid, i used to draw pictures and i was really ahead of my time with my drawings. One day I literally got bored of drawing random pictures of stupid stuff like bowls stacked in the sink or something that’s supposed to be “artsy.” Mind you, this was 1996 when CD’s started to really boom and become more accessible due to a more decent price on a CD player. So i’m 14 and I obviously don’t have any money, but i used to always get the Source Magazine. Well, in the back of the Source, back then, they had the catalog in the back (with a company I can’t remember the name of) that would give you 6 cd’s for 1 cent or something crazy to get you to stay subscribed. So I’ll throw a penny in there and they sent me 6 CD’s. I’ll listen and listen and listen and after a while I realized that the sounds were nothing but colors and shapes to me. I had this urge to start making music myself because it FELT just like drawing in my mind. So you could say music was that non-repetitive thing I was looking for to “draw” when my interest in traditional art began to decline. It was history after that.
@Zeeofafb: I noticed that you’re on Beat Stars and PMP worldwide. As you know many producers are selling their beats online nowadays. Can you provide any music business tips for those who’re starting music production companies? Any beat sales tips?
@Urb Tactics: The best way to make your name pop in the production world, in regards to selling beats, is to have an identity. Now when I say have an identity, I mean, don’t load up an auto-spam program or something with your link on it and leave it at that. You need to actually be a personality online, participate in discussions, ask for feedback, interact with your customers…most of all, stop being greedy, everything isn’t about you, you GIVE and then perhaps you GET later. Don’t [continue to] take…from a community and then get upset when there’s nothing left because eventually you will ruin your market. The point of my message is to contribute to the music community so that there’s a better return later. These guys that are spamming links and never have anything interesting to say or any incentive to click their links are doing it entirely wrong. They say the music speaks for itself…well that’s not entirely true, my philosophy is the MAN (or woman) needs to be an interesting enough person in order to create a fan in the first place. So interact with your listeners, be approachable, and a word-of-mouth domino effect will improve your business exponentially over time. Oh…and the obvious…MAKE GOOD MUSIC.
@Zeeofafb: What are your thoughts on the abundance of producers using soundclick as their primary beat selling vehicle? Do you feel that the term “soundclick producer” carries a negative connotation in 2012?
@Urb Tactics: It really depends on what you want to do. Are you just in this because its money involved and you want to spend it all on useless investments like J’s and other mess?
Or do you actually want to build a company that will bring in a solid stream of income that will help you reinvest in your craft to the point you might even be able to start a brick and mortar business that’s based on online success?
Every dime you make as a producer is your capital. 5-10 beats [sold] might mean a new midi controller so you dont have to use a mouse. Twenty or 30 [beat sales] might mean a new fantom keyboard. You have to set goals for yourself and I think the best way to maximize this is to be on everything, not just soundclick. Get on everything, try it for a while, and look at what type of buyers you are targeting. Soundclick is going to be predominantly low paying situations simply because that has become the norm. [At] PMP, the buyers pay MORE, however, your quality AND PRODUCTION needs to be at a competitive level…not competitive online….competitive at an industry level. If you’re not there yet then maybe you should stay on soundclick until you get better…BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF.
As far as the “soundclick producer” label is concerned, I think it might be because it’s a starting ground for a lot of producers online and over the years you graduate past that or some cats will say “shit, i’m going to get this money, big or small.” It all depends on your style and the way you want to brand yourself at the end of the day, and at the end of the day I can’t make that decision. However, I do consult for a fee 😉
@Zeeofafb: How has social media and the internet affected your music business? What do you see its impact being going forward?
@Urb Tactics: If I sat here and said it doesn’t affect me, I’d be lying. As a producer you have to be open minded and stay on what’s hot to be able to deliver to artists [what it is they are looking for]. I don’t want to say follow the crowd, because that’s definitely not something a creative mind does. It’s like this: Think of this music as vehicles…people obviously need transportation and they want CARS…dont try to be different and give them boats with no water to sail/paddle over. You give them a CAR but YOUR car needs to look better, have better quality and fit the driver better. Now, you took a product everyone wants their hands on and you made a better one with your own twist to it. That’s how you have to look at things, if you have 18 million rappers, don’t try to cut it down to 100,000 by just making horrorcore beats. Who’s going to buy that?! You got 18 million rappers and you want to ignore 17.9 million rappers to cater to 100,000?! You can’t even guarantee you’ll reach all 100,000! You have to think about things like this, it’s all numbers, so dont sell yourself short…literally.
@Zeeofafb: How important is it for producers to network in the music industry? How do you approach networking with other music professionals and artists?
@Urb Tactics: It’s extremely important to maintain a good relationship with music execs. Everybody is different, but my approach is simple: “When you hear from me, that means I got something for you.” If you send something and you don’t hear back, send some more stuff, keep sending new stuff, but don’t call without a purpose, having meaningless chats will ruin a relationship with a person who’s busy, hell even I’m like that and men in general, we do not want to be on the phone unless its contingent with getting some business done. As far as artists, a quick shout out on twitter will suffice, kick it with them offline if you’re in the same city or in each other’s town. Just try to socialize; you never know who you might meet.
@Zeeofafb: What was one of your biggest “wins”/accomplishments as a music producer?
@Urb Tactics: Honestly, I think a lot of the readers are looking for some type of placement or a phone call or something like that. Look man…that stuff means NOTHING, your work isn’t done when you place a song with anybody. It’s all about getting that single. But to get back to the question at hand, my greatest accomplishment was 7 years ago when I made my first $50 off my music, that’s the beginning of it all right there.
@Zeeofafb: What was your biggest “failure”/ disappointment as a music producer? How have you learned and grown from the experience?
@Urb Tactics: I don’t have a failure moment per say, but I do have a disappointing moment as a producer when I visited a friend of a former manager I knew back in NC. I let him hear some music and he immediately started hating, I saw it in his face. He said my drums didn’t knock when he compared my beats to his and I replied “well your drums are louder because your beat isn’t mastered and the bands are lopsided (lower frequencies are clipping, higher frequencies are extremely low). Of course this guy didn’t know what i was saying to him and told me when I get older i’m going to quit music altogether….because he did. At that moment I made a promise to myself to never have the mentality of this guy. For starters, his beats had absolutely no personality and it seemed like he was trying to bring the 90’s back with his bland outdated boom-bap sound. Two things i’ve learned from that: Don’t speak on things you know nothing about. And secondly, don’t take another producer’s opinion of your music too seriously. I’ve found out that the opinion of a female with no musical background holds more worth than fellow producers FOR THE MOST PART.
@Zeeofafb: What is the vision you have for your production company? where do you want to be in five years?
@Urb Tactics: My goals in a straight shot are like this: Come up with my own artist so that I can establish myself in this industry and to continue to build on my catalog in regards to TV/Film licensing. I recently moved to Atlanta and i intend on moving into one of these multi-million dollar homes out here in the future when it all comes together like i envisioned as a 16 year old boy.
@Zeeofafb: What upcoming projects do you have coming up or in the works? Anything we should be looking out for?
@Urb Tactics: There are a few things in the pipeline but it’s far too early to speak on it right now. As of now I’m catering to the independent artists and developing my own, while working closely with a Bad Boy consultant that’s putting together a music library for TV/FILM synchronization. My man Trae the truth recently inked a deal with Grand Hustle, I definitely anticipate making even more classics with him…plenty of stuff man, it’s all about being patient, because those who aren’t patient tend to fail.
@Zeeofafb: How can people reach you? How can artists buy your beats?