An interview with Fokis of hip-hop collective Local-Mu12
As we saw from Berlin-based artist collective A Headful of Bees last year, “DIY” doesn’t mean you have to go it alone. With careful planning and a team effort, they successfully recorded, mixed, mastered, manufactured, and distributed an entire album in less than a week.
Now an international hip-hop crew called Local-Mu12 (a collective of producers and MCs) is also demonstrating the wisdom of working as a team, helping one another with everything from the creation of the music, to the funding of music videos, to getting the music covered by bloggers.
I asked Local-Mu12’s head-honcho, the hip-hop artist Fokis, about the process of working within such a group setting, and about their shared successes.
What is Local-Mu12? How did it get its start, and why?
Local-Mu12 is a collective of artists and producers that is structured like a union. Local-Mu12 stands for “Local Musicians United 12” (2012 was the year it was established) and it was created almost out of necessity. Being an indie artist is one of the most exciting things but is also one of the toughest things to be. I always believed in the strength in numbers theory but the key to that is having the right individuals make up those numbers. In business I believe everyone should bring something to the table; there are no free rides. We share the expenses the same way we share the profits, clean cut music business.
The idea of a “crew” or a collective (where individual artists support one another under a common name) seems much more prevalent within hip-hop than it is in other genres. Why do you think that is?
I think it’s done in other genres, just labeled differently. It definitely is something you see more of in the hip-hop genre though. I think because Hip-Hop is more of an urban genre and you don’t need to play an instrument, its easier for a bunch of artists to get together and make music.
How can artists benefit from working within a collective? How can the success of one artist help the others?
Sharing resources is one of the biggest ways artists can benefit from being in a crew/collective. If you have 10 fans and I have 10 fans we can put them together and make 20 fans. Saving money and having your money go further for you is another major benefit.
Why pay $1,000 for a music video by myself when I can split that expense with 10 or more other people? I’ve learned that when you reduce your risks, by default you increase you chances of achieving success. Success for one means potential success for all, once one person gets hot it can create opportunities for everyone else.
How does your collective operate/organize/divide responsibilities, etc?
The thing about Local-Mu12 that makes us so unique is that we are a membership based collective that is always looking to increase its members. We are not restricted or confined by demographics. In fact, I see it as a plus that the members are located in different states and countries. Yes, countries; our latest addition to the team is an artist by the name of Swiss Juellz who is from Switzerland. I am the head of the Union — kind of like the president. I present the ideas to the team and we vote on everything, majority rules. Everyone then gets assigned a job or role for that particular project and I do weekly follow-ups with everyone via email, Skype, Google hangout or the phone.
Are there drawbacks to working within this setup? Does the identity of the individual artist get diluted at all?
It’s all about being a team player. I learned a long time ago that you can not do this (being an indie artist) alone. If you are a selfish minded individual then I would say yes, their are a lot of drawbacks. If you think team then I can honestly say there are not too many drawbacks to it. It goes back to business, create win/win situations and everyone will be happy. The bigger the identity gets for one person the better chance for another person to be heard.
What kind of media coverage or high-profile gigs have you been able to get for LOCAL-Mu12 artists?
We have been able to secure some really big placements with some of the top blogs today. Our music has been featured on TheSource.com, HipHopDx.com, 2dopeboyz.com, Wiredhiphop.com, DJBooth.net & many more. We were able to perform at the A3C Hip-Hop Festival down in Atlanta this past October where we opened up for ol’ Dirty Bastard’s son, Young Dirty Bastard. Because one of the guys is located in Switzerland we have been in talks with some promoters who are interested in booking a few shows for us out there.
Do you have any PR tips for approaching music blogs, festivals, music supervisors, etc?
Well first you need to get some money because PR is not cheap. You then have to make sure you shop around for the perfect fit. We have been through 4 Publicists in 2 years, anyone will gladly take your money; you just need to make sure you do your homework. Once you find a good PR person, make sure to work together with them and set some goals so everyone knows what they are striving for. Make sure your publicist has good relationships with some of the publications you are trying to get placed on. that is key.
Be patient but be sure to keep track of progress. It takes time and slow motion is better than no motion. Once you create a demand, people will begin to contact you. It’s like magic: one minute you’re chasing after them, the next minute they’re chasing after you. Sponsoring events is another great way to get noticed and or booked for festivals and shows.
What’s next for y’all? Big album release on the horizon? Details about that?
We are releasing our debut album titled LABOR DAY on March 4th. The album features Skyzoo, Sadat X, Torae, GLC & Rapper Big Pooh. The album is such a great body of work and I am so proud of it, I look forward to the people hearing it. We are shooting some pretty cool and creative music videos that will be released over the course of the next 2 months. Be sure to follow us on twitter @Localmu12,on Facebook, and our website www.LoyaltyDigitalCorp.com.
What should someone do if they’d like to join Local-Mu12?
Any artists or producers that are interested in being a part of Local-Mu12, please feel free to shoot me a line here http://www.loyaltydigitalcorp.com/submission.html. I would love to check you out. We are always looking for new talented people to bring on board. Remember, work smarter — not harder — and teamwork always makes the dream work.
Check out Local-Mu12’s music playlist on Soundcloud.
Pre-order the new album from iTunes.
Check out some of the blog coverage for Local-Mu12:
To learn how you can get your music written about in the press, on blogs, and more — download our FREE guide:
[hana-code-insert name=’pr-music-featured’ /]