How to Become a Rap Artist: Education and Career Roadmap

Research the requirements to become a rap artist. Learn about the job duties and read the step-by-step process to start a career in the entertainment industry.

Should I Become a Rap Artist?

A rap artist is a musician who combines unique beats and rhymes to create catchy, entertaining songs. Becoming a rap artist requires dedication, skill and lots of hard work. Once an artist has decided on a stage name and created original songs, they're ready to begin marketing in order to create a buzz and inform people of their music. They must then develop a following and sign a recording contract, though the growing use of digital media sometimes allows them to get their music to the public without a record label behind them.

Becoming a professional musician such as a rap artist can be a difficult path, as there are many more people who want to become musicians than there are success stories; the field is very competitive. For those who do succeed, however, the career can be very creatively and financially rewarding. The more successful rap artists become, the more they have to travel, put on shows and promote their music to maintain their fan base.

Career Requirements

Degree Level No degree required
Experience Typically gained through long-term on-the-job training
Training Intense musical rehearsal, practice and performance
Key Skills Talent, discipline, determination, stamina and self-confidence; good people skills, marketing
Salary (2015) $36,283 (Median for Singers and Musicians)

Sources: US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Payscale.com

Step 1: Practice to Create an Individual Sound

There are many paths to take to become a rap artist, and each one is a little different, but there are necessary steps that may help potential artists along the way. The first thing that rap artists need is an individual style and sound. This requires lots of practice; aspiring rap artists should begin by listening to music for inspiration and then attempt to create music with original beats and lyrics. Rap artists need to thoroughly understand how timing, word flow, songwriting and annunciation will work in and influence their music.

Step 2: Begin Marketing Campaign

Rap artists achieve fame by acquainting as many people as possible with their music. This can be a long and difficult process that requires determination, skill and hard work. Word-of-mouth marketing is an important part of a rap artist's strategy; if people like what they hear, they will tell people they know about it. Another way rap artists can market themselves and their music is through their personal website, which may contain their biography, music files and contact information.

Before actually standing up in front of people and rapping, there are a few things a rap artist should figure out. The first is what their stage name will be. While some rap artists use their real names, many have created stage names to represent themselves as a brand. This name can be catchy or might represent something, but it must be memorable.

After picking out a stage name, a rap artist needs to figure out what music they'll be performing. This music can be covers of other people's songs, but it's preferable that a rap artist has his or her own material and original beats and lyrics. Once a name and songs have been picked out, potential rap artists can begin to play shows. This can take whatever form is necessary to get information about themselves out there, from performing on a street corner to finding gigs at concert venues, schools, nightclubs and parties.

Step 3: Hire Support Staff

Most successful rap artists have surrounded themselves with a staff of personnel who are dedicated to helping their career along. Once a rap artist has enough money and popularity, he or she needs to hire a manager, producer and agent who can help them negotiate contracts and fees, secure a record deal and book concerts. They'll also need a publicist - or someone working in that capacity - to connect with print, online and television media to promote the music and artist. An entertainment attorney will make sure that all of the contract fine print is understood and fair.

Step 4: Make a Recording

Once enough original material has been accrued, a rap artist can begin to create an album or recording. They need to choose a studio, producer and possibly even a record label to record their material. Having a legit recording gives a rap artist another marketing tool to hand out to fans, producers, concert venues and other rappers. Artists typically self-distribute through their websites or social interactions, or they may arrange to sell product through a retail store.

Step 5: Continue Marketing and Improving for Career Advancement

A rap artist needs to be constantly evolving and improving to stay popular and relevant in the constantly changing music business. Once a rap artist has created a recording and has hired the needed staff to support them, he or she must continue to play many shows, make new music and increase the number of fans to advance their career.

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