What Thi’sl and 4 artists learned at SXSW 2015
This month, dozens of Christian hip-hop artists performed at SXSW 2015, which boasts one of the largest music festivals in the world, and many rappers walked away enlightened.
In addition to showcases, SXSW offers numerous panel discussions featuring some of the most important members of the music industry.
Here are four artists who attended the event in Austin, Texas and what they learned.
Thi’sl kind of already knew what he learned in Austin, but it was reaffirmed. He told Rapzilla.com that he was able to meet some people he normally wouldn’t be around, thanks to people he already knew.
“Business is way more about who you know than what you have,” Thi’sl said.
The St. Louis-based artist declined to expound on these people he normally wouldn’t be around.
“If you know the right people, it gives you a whole bunch of shortcuts,” he said. “I don’t think we should look for shortcuts, but if you know the right people, it cuts out some of your work. But on the flip side, you get in position to be in front of the right people from the work you’ve already done.”
Datin didn’t know what to expect when it came to interacting with other Christian hip-hop artists at SXSW.
“You hear so much about the false motive of other [Christian hip-hop] artists that you don’t know who you can trust and who is really ’bout this,” he said.
However, God Over Money’s newest signee left town pleasantly surprised.
“Everybody I kicked it with was real and had a heart for Jesus and ministry,” he said. “I learned not to listen to everything you hear.”
Derek Minor was one of a handful of Christian hip-hop artists to perform in downtown Austin, and Angie Rose said she took home the most from his TuneCore showcase at the Vulcan Gas Company club.
“I learned that music is transcendent and that a great sound is just as important as a great message,” Rose said.
While Minor had fans in attendance, much of the audience didn’t know the words to his song “116” to rap along, so the quality of the performance needed to be high to win them over.
“You attract people with sound and keep them with the message,” Rose said.
Stephen the Levite
Stephen the Levite took full advantage of the panel discussions at SXSW.
“I learned a lot about how to make sure I’m not ‘leaving money on the table’ or not getting paid for things i should be getting paid for,” he said. “I sat in on some discussions about tour merch, social media, production and other helpful things for me as an artist to grow in my understanding of the business and the kind of things that work to keep me connected to my supporters. I noticed the term ‘super-fan’ was thrown around a lot. For artists like myself that don’t have as many fans as the award winners but have a few die hard fans, that info was really important too.”
As much knowledge as he absorbed at panels, though, the Lamp Mode Recordings artist said he learned the most at concerts.
“There’s nothing like watching artists that you’ve looked up to for decades, new cats that have a buzz and even popular artists you don’t like,” he said. “I take notes when I watch live shows — what works, what doesn’t, common threads, things I can use to improve my own show. I learned a lot by seeing others do it well, whether I actually enjoyed their music or not.”