Hi, Doctor Nick! - The Necessary Evil of Self-Promotion and the Secret to Making Beats Without an MC

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Nick Hook is a talented dude. The guy can make beats, play instruments, record rappers, and that's just a partial list. But he's also smart enough to know that no matter how talented someone is, they're going to need some help along the way. That's probably why he's agreed to sit down and answer our readers' questions each and every Thursday morning. He's got knowledge to share—people simply have to have ask. Hit him up at doctornick@xlr8r.com.

Yo. Hi. I think I'm dying. I've been up till 10 a.m. the last few days, and now its 4 a.m. and I gotta finish this column before I'm back at it again.

Big up to HudMo and Zebra Katz for coming and playing with me on Tuesday night at my show for RBMA. Exxxxxxtra big up for my roommate not throwing me out of the house cuz I brought 30 people over. Oh yeah, I also saw Richie Hawtin's lecture. Let's answer some questions.

Hi Doctor Nick,
I don't want you to get fired either so I thought I'd send some thoughts your way. After reading your plea for strangers to stop jamming your inbox with demos, it got me thinking about my own issues along those lines. My least favorite part about making music is self-promotion. In my own fantasyland, I'd be able to make some great tunes at home, throw a track onto SoundCloud, and then the "right" people would hear it and decide whether they dig it or not. I'd feel like a tool putting my music on Facebook with all the typical pleading, "please like this," "please share this with your friends," "free download if you like my page," etc. I also occasionally meet DJs/producers in the city who I think would probably vibe with my music, but I never ask them to listen to it because I think it would turn a good conversation between two people into a guise for my own self-promotion. So, how can I make you listen to my music without asking you to listen to my music? Advise away!

Thanks man. No one wants to get fired. I'm earning these doctor dollars one week at a time.

Yo. I feel you. It sucks for sure. The worst is when someone finds out you make music and asks you to play it for them—in front of them. I have no problem giving people my music or sending it to them, but I rarely ever follow up cuz I feel the same way as you about it. If they dig it they will hit you back.

Some strong advice is to just give it to them. Get over it. When I worked at a restaurant, I hated taking out the trash and smelling like disgusting food when I got home. In music, I hate having to "promote" myself and miss people I love cuz we live in different cities, but every job has the parts that suck. Just get over it.

Really though, I think that your fantasy isn't that far off. Good music will find its way into the right hands. Look at Jai Paul—dude pretty much dropped one demo and all of a sudden he was all over the place.

You also really need to ask yourself: Is the music on the level? Are you ready to share it with people yet? Right now, with music so easy to make/release/consume, something does need to stand out, right? So I think that is something to account for as well. Being the illest should always be goal number one, and that's something you don't need to rush. I didn't put my first piece of music out till I was like 24. I love doing this because it's really endless. There's no time limit.

Good luck and don't worry about things. Like I've said before, getting unsolicited shit from people you don't know is pretty much the most annoying thing in the world, but if we have a friendship then I love listening to tunes and giving constructive feedback.

Hi Doctor Nick,
I really like listening to and trying to produce all kinds of hip-hop, but it's hard to hear a tight beat and use things that I've learned in my own productions. How can I start putting the pieces of music that are stuck in my head all of the time to good use, especially if it's not easy to fully flesh out a song with no MC to work with? Thanks dog.

This one is super simple. Put acapellas in. It will automatically make you think of songs. Pay a small fee and join some hip-hop record pools to get mad acapellas. And if you look close, there are sites out there where you can download them. Clams Casino lectured us at RBMA in 2011 and basically his whole story is that he was sending a bunch of rappers beats on MySpace. Slowly dudes started taking them and now he's killing it.

Okay, I'm going to bed. xxxx

Hi, Doctor Nick! appears every Thursday on XLR8R. Do you have a question for Doctor Nick? Please submit your inquires to doctornick@xlr8r.com. Nick Hook can help you.