The ABC's of touring for independent music artist by Yung Semaj 

The ABC's of touring for independent music artist: 

How to Maximize your time on tour! 

Written by Gabriel Yung Semaj Dunham​


 

 A. Aquire and maintain relationships 
 

During my career as an independent music artist I've had the privilege to tour just about the entire United States. That privilege has created many memories and started many great friendships. 

I'll never forget the day I got booked to do a concert event in Louisiana. That was when I met Chuck and Melanie from Louisiana! When my flight touched down in New Orleans my chaperone was Melanie's sweet mother. She was very welcoming, full of kindness and energy! 

I throughly enjoyed our ride from the airport to the restaurant where the other guys in my group were already located. They were picked up earlier by Chuck and Melanie who had an elaborate dinner planned for our arrival! We ate and ate until we couldn't eat anymore! 

During the dinner we learned so much about Chuck, Melanie and the family. We all laughed, told stories and talked about our lives. It was such a memorable experience. 

Not only were we able to bond with Chuck and Melanie at dinner but we also would be staying at their place instead of a hotel. Allowing us even more time to get to know each other. Over the course of the next couple days there was definitely a lasting relationship built with Chuck, Melanie and the group. 

So much of a lasting relationship that Chuck and Melanie brought us back to Louisiana two more times! Not only that, they linked us up with others in their town. This led to more concerts, discount merchandise and even two music videos, which we shot in Louisiana! Those two have been a blessing on countless occasions. 

Connecting with everyone you can is a great idea. So be sure that you connect with the other artist you meet on tour! This is just as important than making time to connect with fans. This has worked out for my benefit on several occasions. KJ-52 gave me advice on how social media would impact indie music artist in the future, that was back in 2008! I've learn so much applicable information from artist I've met on tour and built relationships with. 

These relationships have also led to things like more concerts, great collaboration, getting new fan followings, etc. So be sure to be interactive and communicate with other artist while on tour. 
 

B. Bring more than your music 
 

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was standing on the stage with my S.O.A.K brothers! We were in Texas, performing the "White Bandana" song! A song about surrendering to God! 

When we hopped of the stage and took our places at the V.I.P table it was like the crowd rushed us all of a sudden! They were lining up to buy our album. But that's not all they got, they also purchased: CDs, t-shirts, stickers, light up mouthpieces, posters, flyers, hats, and most of all... WHITE BANDANAS!!! 

Judah Man was always on point with our merchandise! We always had so much more than music to offer. We were a brand, we sold the light up mouthpiece because it was part of our performance! We sold white bandanas because we performed that song on stage! CDs were probably the least thing we sold that night in Yoakum, Texas! 

It's not all out the money either. When you are touring their is the opportunity to leave your fingerprint on a town or city! As an indie music artist you should make sure you have merchandise that represents you so that your fans will be able to help support you and your message! Whenever they are out and about in their local town, they may be wearing your logo on a t-shirt, they may have one of your stickers on their cars or school notebooks. If your fans love your music and your stage performance they will love to help promote your music! 
 

C. Capture A LOT of media 
 

Before the days of Instagram, Periscope, Facebook Live and snapchat me and my guys were on MySpace! My music career was born at time Myspace was the popular social media craze. We were the best at utilizing MySpace as a platform to get our music out! 

It was practically the model we see today in the music industry, especially for independent music artist. Now things have just become faster and more innovative but the same model still works if your know how to work it. Engaged with your audience via social media. 

When you're on tour you need to capture pictures and videos so that your supports and fans can stay engaged. Instead of having to wait to upload videos to YouTube to post them in MySpace bulletins you can now go live on Facebook or use other social media apps and websites like Periscope, Meerkat and Ustream. 

You can also post pictures and videos to your Instagram. In my research Instagram has the most engages, meaning people like and/or share your pics and videos more! They comment more and interact more on IG than any other sites. Having something to post that shows you are really serious about your music career is important, that's why you need to capture what you can. 

A lot of times I found it to be a good idea to have someone working the camera when you go on tour. Have someone designated to get good pictures and video footage of you on stage and interacting with fans. As an indie music artist you probably want to be in charge of your social media accounts so if you have someone who is capturing media make sure they send it to you or you approve the post! Just so you know it represents your message and brand. 

In conclusion be sure to utilize all these tips. Some may work better for you than others but it's very important to remember these tips when you're on tour so that you can maximize your time and efforts. Touring can be a great way to make a lot of money in the music business. It is always a good way to build relationships and have fun with the music you've created.

The ONLINE Grind by Yung Semaj 

THE "ONLINE" GRIND 

Why indie music artists MUST focus on their ONLINE presence! 

 

Written by Gabriel Yung Semaj Dunham ( www.cleanhiphop.org ) 



 

1. CDs are almost Obsolete. 

You are reading this right now on a digital platform. Which is to my point, CDs are almost obsolete. This is because of the new way the music industry is operating with the explosion of the Internet, social media and the digital age. Since supporters and fans are now just a click away from listening to music using their smartphones CDs are becoming less important. 
 

This digital age is evolving and we are seeing technology change mostly everything we use. Since technology is helping so many industries it's a must as an indie artist that you stay updated how it's effecting the music business. For example- less and less people need CDs  for their cars since practically all vehicles are being made with auxiliary inputs now.
 

This is also because of smartphones. Since smartphones are so highly used, most companies have in some way invested in making sure they can connect with customers via then mobile device (e.i iPhone, Android, Tablets, etc). Which is very wise since our phones are probably the number one thing we can't put down all day! 

 

2. You can physically deliver a digital product. 

A few years ago I would have probably told you that CDs were still a big need for indie music artist. My argument would have been that people still want and need that physical touch and having them at concerts/ events was a must. At the time I was probably right. 
 

But since we have seen such a bigger shift in the way we interact with content like music, videos and books. Indie music artist need to learn to be innovative and creative when trying to get their music in front of potential customers and fans. Discover ways you can physically make your digital product available. 
 

One way that I discovered I could sell or give my music away but still maintain that physically touch was to invest in getting some "drop cards".  This is basically a flyer/card that contains information like a download code and an online link to your mixtape, album and/or general music. Later, I found out that you can really go all out and display these on the inside of custom made greeting cards! You could even write you fans/customers a special note! 
 

3. Your website can say much more than you can! 

Since you are giving them something physical but sending them to a digital platform you should leverage it! I make sure that the link to my mixtapes, albums, film music etc either goes directly to my official website or to a site that has my official website displayed somewhere visible to everyone. 
 

This is because my official website contains so much more about me than the music the person is initially introduced to. It has things like my bio which give my listener some background behind the music. If the person likes what they hear or if they are coming to my website to purchase music then they will also see the opportunity to book me for a concert and/or speaking event! 
 

At concert and even at meet and greets, music artist and their fans are limited on how much information can be shared. But when potential supporters and/or fans go to your official website they take their time and learn more about who you are and what you have to offer. They are also able to have access to things like your mailing list, which is tremendously helpful in keeping them constantly updated on the music and events you've got going on!

Black Fathers Matter by Yung Semaj 





BLACK FATHERS MATTER

3 Keys for Black Fathers 

Written by: Gabriel Yung Semaj Dunham


 

1. Provide 

A black man should always provide for his children. When talking about provision I'm talking about for 3 essential things. Food, Clothing and Shelter. 

I realize for a black man in our society today that this may feel like the hardest of the 3 keys to accomplish and maintain. I could bring in stats about the unemployment rate of Black Men and compile many other statistics supporting  that statement. But I want to tell you that you can do it, you can be the provider your kids need! 

Even if you are unemployed you can still find creative ways to make money and provide for your children! I remember when my first daughter Jessica was about to be born.  I quit the job I was working to relocate and be closer to my child. This meant for the time being, I did 

not have a steady income! 

I was younger then and I really didn't know what I was going to do to provide consistently. Nevertheless, what I did  know is that I had a few music gigs lined up in the upcoming weeks. So I did the smart thing and I used a major chunk of the money I made to purchase essentials for a newborn. I bulked up on about 3 months worth of stuff. 

In the end, I was able to get a job in much sooner time than I realized. But the fact that I had utilized the finances I had to support my child gave me the peace I needed to remain level-headed throughout the strenuous job search process. 

What can we learn from this? 

A. No Job= No excuse 

As Black Fathers we can not buy into the lie that a job (in its traditional sense) is the only way to make money from our children. We need to have the attitude that by any means necessary we will be the provider our kids so desperately need. 

B. Work Odd Jobs if needed 

I believe The Black Man possess the most creative mind on the planet. You have to be creative in a world where the odds are stacked against you. The average income of a Black household is approx 50% less than a White household. I honestly believe that a big reason for this is that Black Fathers and men don't pursue the avenue of owning their own business! Going to work for someone else is just more comfortable for us. 

I urge Black Fathers to think outside the box. Even if you have a job already you should still be finding other streams of income to help support your child and/or family! A lot of time working odd jobs is what leads to proof of concept and ultimately a thriving business! 

C. Preparation leads to Peace 

Just as I told you in my story earlier when my first daughter was born. There was peace I had because I was able to take some of the income from the concerts I was doing. Which allowed me to purchase the essential things that were needed, in preparation for the arrival of my little princess. 

In efforts to shorten my story previously I left out one important factor that help me to prepare for my child. I had a great support system! Honestly the pride in me wanted me to be like  " I'm her Father so I'm paying for everything!" But I had to realize that I had to allow my love ones to express there excitement for a new member of the family as well. 

The point there is to realize that Black families are going to stick together! I'm not telling you to ask for handouts or beg anyone for anything! But what I am saying is that your friends and love ones deserve the right to show their appreciation for new life and their support for you! So as a Black Father who wants to ensure his children are provided for, you should leverage that! 

Don't wait on the mother of your child to do a Baby Registry! Go and do it yourself and do it early! Your cousins, brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles etc are going to so excited to buy gifts. Tell them what you really need! Help them, help you and not throw away good money by getting gifts or stuff you already have! That's just being a good responsible Black Father! 

2. Protect 

A Black Father must protect his children. Statically when it comes to Fathers we are the most absent from the home! But even if you are not in a position to have full custody of your children you definitely should be seeking some type of custody or visitation arrangements. 

And when your child is in your home your job is to make them feel like not even King Kong himself can't harm them! Be sure to ask your children's mother questions about how they plan to protect your children when they are in her care if you are not living with her. 

A good friend of mine once told me of a time when he and his family were living with his parents. They were in the process of finding a home of their own. When one day at a family gathering his son came to him and explained that my friend's father (the grandfather) had just referred to the little boy as stupid! 

This friend of mine did the right thing and addressed his Dad with his son standing right there! He said that things didn't turn out so well but what he did for his child was amazing! 

What can we learn from this? 

A. Stand Up at any cost 

My friend protected his sons identify even if it meant that he and his family my be homeless! I think that it was more important for my friend's son to see his father stand up for him than it was for them to continue to live there. Somethings are just too valuable and its your job to protect your children's identity and emotions as well as physically keep them out of harms way. 

B. You are the solution 

My friend son didn't hesitate to go directly to what he felt like was the solution to his situation. His Father! As Black Fathers we have to understand that our children look to us to be that strong and protective figure in their lives. My daughters look to their Mother for things like how to carry themselves but when it comes to Dad they require my security. 

C. When the time comes, TAKE ACTION! 

My 3 year old daughter is Madison. We call her Maddie. She is our fearless one! I can remember a time when she was a baby. 

Like always she was dashing across our apartment but this one day we had a candle burning. Chasing her big sister she ran right into the table it was on and it tipped over. 

Maddie was right beside me but it all happened so fast! All I could do was snatch her out of the walker as quickly as possible! So that's exactly what I did. 

I was fast enough to save her from getting burned but some of the wax from the candle hit her right on her face! She was crying and of course we were frantic! I think my wife went in shock because she just held Maddie and begin to cry as well! 

But as a Black Father and her protector I could allow the situation to cripple me! My daughters well-being was at stake! So as soon as I saw the wax on her quickly took action and put a wet cloth to  Maddie's face! 

Next, We took Madison to the ER to make sure everything was alright. She had a few spots on her face where the wax hit her that look to be burned. The Doctor told us she was ok and it was minor and would heal rather quickly. 

We were extremely grateful to God that things didn't turn out worse. As parents my wife and I were both obviously disappointed in ourselves because we both realized the magnitude of the situation and how things really could have turned out! On the ride home from the ER still feeling like a crappy parent I started to say bad things about myself. 

Then out of nowhere my wife compliments me! Telling me how my quick reaction to the situation saved Maddie from being burned and how my positive attitude about the outcome made her feel more relaxed in the midst of all the chaos. She said she froze up and didn't know what to do but thankfully I was there and I took action! 

3.Prophesy 

A Black Father should always Prophesy to his children. It is the most important of the 3 Keys. Because we are imperfect and were raised by imperfect people, we will at times undoubtedly fail at this. But we must be sure to make it a priority to guard our tongue and be careful what we say to our children. 

As a Black Father in your home you are the prophet. A prophet is someone who utters divinely inspired revelations! In other words your job as the prophet of your family is to authoritatively speak into the lives of your children. The Black Father must reach inside his children and  bring out the greatness in them by revealing to them who they are! 

I make the claim that prophesying to your children is the most important key because I realize that nothing is more important to a child than the approval of their Father. My children often take for granted the provision and protection I have provided for them. But I've never seen them take one ofour talks lightly. 

A. Blame it on my Mom! 

Blame it on my Mom! She did a great thing for me. Before she left for work she would always come into my room, lay her hand on my forehead and speak many great blessings over me! 

I say blame it on my Mom because the choice she made to take the time and encourage me daily is what put the drive in me to be so ambitious. By speaking into my life, my Mom gave me the confidence that is required to accomplish greatness, she allowed me to see myself for more than what my circumstances were! 

B. Your children hear you! 

Just recently my daughters were involved in a Vacation Bible School program at the church. I had to work all that week so I was not able to see my girls as they participated in their class. But that Sunday I was scheduled to speak at the same church. I gave my message about Fathers. 

I also got to talk with the teachers from the Vacation Bible School! The teacher told me of a time during class when my oldest daughter was called upon to do a task. My daughter stated that she could not do what was asked. The teacher informed me that she told my daughter to never say you "can't do something". My daughters reply was " Oh yeah, my Dad tells me that all the time!" 

That was a proud moment for me as Black Father. It proved to me that when you consistently instill things in your children they are going to remember it! The things you place in them will be the things that make or break them in this world! You are dealing with a delicate thing when it comes to a child and their identity. 

C. See the good, Say the good 

So as a Father remember that your children are fragile and they need more positive reinforcement than negative reinforcement. Remember that the most important thing you can give them is love! Give your children love that is followed up by the action of believing in them! We must invest time in building them up and helping to shape their identity and character instead of criticizing their every mistake. We the to see the good in them and be sure we say it when we see it!

3 Keys to Overcoming Fear By Yung Semaj 

Not too long ago I sent out an email blast asking the supporters and fans who have signed up to yungsemaj.com to email me back with anything that they were dealing with!

One common thing that came up was the topic of fear! So I responded to a specific email from a supporter with the following keys to OVERCOMING FEAR! This person let me know how helpful this information is and I was given permission to post it in mylatest blog! I hope it’s just as helpful for you!

3 Keys to OVERCOMING FEAR

Hi ________,

Thanks so much for contacting me! It means a lot that you woul respond and ask for some tips and/or advice from me! I’m happy to come along side you and assist in anyway I can! In fact I’m amped and excited to….so let’s get started!

Let’s begin by first addressing and dismantling what we both know to be the issue! You have already identified your and all of our monster! You’re right it’s FEAR! So let’s put fear under the microscope!

What really is fear? Fear is actually a secondary word! The word fear was only created to shorten the explaination that
that there is an absence of Faith!

Just like when you explained in your email- You said that you were afraid that no one would pay to contract you! The answer and/or solution to your problems both privately and professionally can be formulated in a sentence that is opposite of yours! It would read like the following: _____ has FAITH that someone will pay to contract her!

Like most things in life although the answer is simple the application is not so much! So my service to you will be to share some things I have learned in the process of starting and running a business. These things Will also teach you how to overcome fear! Here goes…

1. Always Operate out of abundance

I will never forget my first of many trips to Louisiana! It was for a concert with the group! When our plane touched down the first thing our awesome hosts had on the itinerary was…FOOD!!!

I’m talking about welcome to a DEEPER south than you’re from, where we like to eat MORE than you do BUFFET! A PRIVATE BUFFET, might I add! There was enough food to feed an entire football team for just a few of us! I can still taste that bacon-wrapped shrimp and that praline catfish!!! What we had in front of us was DEFINITELY an abundance!

Whenever I was sitting at the table eating this surplus of shrimp can you guess the thoughts and emotions I felt! I can tell you a few ones I definitely did NOT have… “Will I be full after this meal?”… “Does the Chef have enough work back there?” “Is there going to be enough food to go around?”

I was NOT having these thoughts while sitting there eating because I was aware of the abundance in front of me! In the same way you also have an abundance in front of and more importantly INSIDE of you!

The only difference between a rich man and a poor man is habits! What I want to suggest to you is that you get in the habit of purposefully setting up your daily routine in a way that starts you off operating from a position of abundance!

For me meditation has been something that I have adopted into my morning ritual. I discovered that meditation has been adopted by several cultures throughout history and people use it in different ways! For me meditation is simply defined as training my mind! My goal in meditation is to practice calming my mind by focusing on the moment in the perspective that I am in need of nothing!

For 15 minutes I continuously train my thoughts to only focus on basically shalom peace! Knowing that in that moment I am not only completely supplied but that I have more than what I need to accomplish every task, responsibility and/or goal!

When you think like this you operate like this since thoughts lead to actions! So when you are face with problems in life you know that you have the answer so then emotionally you are not drained or discouraged you are excited to take on the challenge and find the solution!

2. Shame yourself… The right way!

What do I mean? Well I’ve learned or really I’ve finally bought into the idea that every person on the planet has been given their measure of greatness! This greatness is in some way a service to the rest of the world!

No one can effect your sphere like you! That’s because no one can walk the path you’ve walked! What really drove this idea home for me was when I really thought about it….

Even if someone has been through the same things that you have there is no way that they can take in or perceive those events exactly like you do! Which means that no one else has the ability to respond in the way that you can!

Only Steve Jobs could perceive and respond to the challenges he was facing and the steps he was taking when he embarked on his mission at Apple! And look at the results of him embracing his quest! Embodying his greatness!

What Steve Jobs and many others alike understood was that it would be a shame not to pursue their own greatness! Not because of they were selfish but because they weren’t!

Wouldn’t it be a shame for us to have all this greatness inside of us and let it go to waste because of fear? Isn’t it selfish of us to have something unique that can inspire the next generation or even our peers and never tap into it?

It’s selfish not to share your greatness with the world and SHAME ON YOU if you don’t step out of your comfort zone, be great and start something for that 5 year old who sees you and now has someone who looks like them who is out here taking charge and owning life!

3. Enjoy Each Day!

When we remember that the process is our payment we can do it all having fun! We will find ourselves taking each business and personal challenge on with an embracing spirit!

Just recently I was faced with a financial challenge. We will make a long story short and just say that due to my lack of communication I was left with no transportation and no access to money!

I think these type of situations are always stressful! You are always thinking you’re stuck. You are battling the feeling of being stranded. But for me this particular time I was able to shut those thoughts and feelings completely off!

I knew that I had other responsibilities and obligations that HAD to be met. So I told myself “this can not happen, the only possible outcome is to win!”

Then I purposefully shut out all negative thoughts and begin to download my mind with all possible solutions!
The actual solution ended up being me working a deal with a client, a producer to send me a payment in advance for mastering his beat! After a few texts and a phone call he paypal’d me the funds and I was back in business!

Of course there were other options. But I took away the option of fear and only left myself with one option and that was to win!

That’s what you have to do to enjoy each day! Block out fear and choose to win no matter what! When you do this, then win is exactly what you will do! You will learn to enjoy winning because the war is already won!
Written by: Gabriel Yung Semaj Dunham

To stay connected and learn more about Yung Semaj or tips on being an indie music artist and business entrepreneur please visit http://www.yungsemaj.com

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