Quit Your Day Job - Gotham Green [DJBooth Interview Exclusive]
Whether you're an aspiring artist or simply a daydreamer, you've likely fantasized about what it would be like to leave your nine-to-five grind behind and try your luck in the music game. But what is the life of an artist on the come-up really like? To answer that very question, we have launched a new, DJBooth-exclusive interview series titled Quit Your Day Job, in which a variety of emerging artists will offer their real, true-to-life insights into the independent grind.
On hiatus since late 2011, the series recommences with an exclusive look at Gotham Green, the New York rhymesayer who teamed up with Inglewood's El Prez to bring us collaborative EP Inhale. When he's not working his nine-to-five gig in the real estate industry, the Super Mart Produce/Won't Make It Music emcee is in the studio with production partner Quickie Mart, cooking up the fourth installment of his Haze Diaries mixtape series. In addition, he is beginning work on a new solo LP entitled Child Of An Immigrant, tentatively set for release in November.
In the exclusive interview below, Gotham Green discusses the absurdity of "pay to play" schemes, why he'll never walk away from real estate entirely, and why networking skills often trump talent in the music game.
What is your current day job?
Currently I work for a commercial real estate firm specializing in purchasing old industrial and/or manufacturing facilities and converting them into creative office spaces for everyone from tech companies to food entrepreneurs. A big focus in the company is making available our properties for production companies to use to shoot television shows, films (both independent and major), music videos, commercials, etc. I run most of the day to day operations for the production side of the company.
What would it take for you to leave your day job in favor of a full-time career in music?
In order for me to step away from my current day job it would take a financial injection into my music career to allow me to comfortably pay my bills and pay for the cost of promoting my music. That financial backing could come from a variety of sources including a record label, through a deal of some sort (either a label deal or artist deal), an agency or a private investor. With that said, I will always remain tied into real estate as my father was in the business for over 30 years and my brother is still in the business. I would take any profits from my music career and invest that money into properties.
What steps are you taking to reach that point?
I am actively working on music and working on getting that music into the right hands. I have been fortunate enough to meet some genuine people in this industry, who have helped me realize who I should target and how to go about getting those people or corporations to listen and take an interest in my music. I continue to do live shows all across the country as well as performing at as many showcases / music conferences / festivals as possible.
What has been the biggest roadblock/challenge in this pursuit?
Getting a call back is hard. Most of the time if you give someone a CD or you email them a record, they say they will check it out and get back to you, but then they don't get back to you. Persistence is key, but I have to remember that just like myself, everyone has a million things going on at any given time, so there's no harm in resending an email, or placing a phone call to see if the person who you sent the song actually got a chance to listen to it. With that though, there is always a chance that the person will get annoyed and not give you a chance because they feel you're being pushy. However, if the music is strong enough, it will get heard, it just may take longer than expected. Another major roadblock is actually getting booked for live shows, without a booking agent to do your leg work. Most promoters won't book you if you don't have a HUGE following in their city, but if I had that type of buzz in your city, why would I need you? And I don't believe in the "pay to play" scenario. If a promoter is only doing "pay to play" gigs, then what exactly are they doing? When I am working on an album do you write my rhymes? No, so why am I doing your job?
What is the greatest misconception that you've discovered on your own about starting a career in music?
As much planning as an artist can do for their career I have found that the biggest misconception is that most artists think their success is directly related to their talent level. In my opinion that is absolutely not true. It's not a 'what can you do' business, it's a 'who do you know' business. It's hard to be discovered by a stranger on the strength of how dope your song is when that stranger will go sign their nephew because his older sister said that her son is amazing. Also, there is no more A&Ring or artist development, so unless you can push yourself to the masses you are out of luck.
What are you working on now that readers/prospective fans should be on the lookout for over the next few weeks/months?
Currently my homie Quickie Mart and I are finishing up the fourth installment of our Haze Diaries series, which will be released early this summer. We may go back to giving it out for free, we haven't decided yet. You can expect to hear the usual suspects like Freddie Gibbs, El Prez, Jes Hudak and Malkovich on there as well as some first time Haze Diaries collaborators like Grafh and Def Jam signee Wax. QM did 100% of the production on this one. I'm also in the early stages of working on a solo LP entitled Child of an Immigrant, which I'm aiming to release around my birthday in November.
What is the best way for readers/prospective fans to find out more about you and your music?
The DJBooth is actually a great place to start, but readers who want to know or hear more should follow me on Twitter or "Like" me on Facebook or just Google me. I'm on the web, I ain't hiding.