Long Island, New York is where we head this week for our Seller Spotlight. Hip Hop artist Lagato Shine has collaborated with some of the biggest names in the industry and has successfully created a career for himself as an independent musician. He tells us about the challenges he’s faced, the role that social media has played in promoting himself, and how hard work and practice pays off. We also talk about the importance of family and how this hip hop loving group have managed to all follow their passion while leaning on and encouraging each other. Tons of inspiring advice here for all you independent musicians out there – enjoy!
Describe a typical day in your life.
A typical day for me would be making sure my two daughters are well and on their way to have a great day. At least a hour in the gym would follow. I run a studio, so if studio time is booked that would follow. If there’s no studio time booked I would work on the Last Run Ent. business. Either writing, recording, or mixing new material. There’s four artists on the roster, all family – three brothers and my daughter. We are working all projects simultaneously. A day can consist of anything from rehearsing for a performance, doing drop request, burning cds, online promotions, radio interviews…whatever is on the schedule we handle. There’s always something to do, the internet has enabled us to search for new fans at any given time. The fast pace the industry moves at keeps you on your toes, so until we reach our goals we put in a lot of work in a single day!
When did you first start getting into music?
I recited my first rap when I was at the tender age of 8 but didn’t take it seriously until 10th grade high school. As far as I can remember I have always had a love for Hip Hop. Growing up it set the tone in urban communities! The music was a reflection of what was going on in the community.
Which artists have you found influential?
A lot of early 80’s Artist influenced me, Run-D.M.C in particular was one of my favorites. I knew all the lyrics to a few of their songs. They also set the tone for what “cool” should be and look like, with the pin striped Lee jeans and shell top Adidas and the big chains around their neck. Overall the culture of Hip Hop Influenced me to want to be a part of it. Guys like Rakim and Public Enemy who were from the same place I’m from made me feel like this is something I can do.
What steps have you taken to get your name out there?
Actually I was signed to Loud Records in 1998-2001 with a group called I.G.T. During our time on Loud we made out fairly well. We were fortunate to accumulate some fans during our tenure their. After splitting from the group and doing solo projects I reached back to past relationships with DJ’s, writers and other industry affiliates to pass music onto. With the birth of the internet coming about after the Loud Records deal I had to adjust and familiarize myself how to get the music out to listeners. With the climate of the industry changing dramatically to record deals so hard to get I quickly had to learn the Independent route. In 2007 I started my own company Last Run Entertainment, and our first artist was a young lady named Ly’Asia , who is actually my daughter. Her project was a success and a learning process of what works and what doesn’t work. Her video Dream has over one million views and she has touched many kids lives with her songs.
Recognizing the importance of the relationship you establish with your fanbase has carried us along way. We do our best to put out the best music and respond to each and every comment or request as possible. We have done and still do everything from giving out physical copies, shows, flyers, interviews and promote as much as we can via the internet to keep our name out there.
As as independent artist, what are some of the hurdles you’ve faced?
The two biggest hurdles we have faced as independent artist have been a lack of staff at times and lack of financial backing to move a project the right way. At times when working a project you have to wear many hats especially when the demand for your product is high. So I have found myself in the past being an artist, an engineer, a producer, a ghost writer, and at rehearsals in one day. Finding good help that’s willing to lend a hand for the cause can be challenging sometimes. Financially being independent means all funds are out of your pocket for everything! Promoting and marketing a project is a huge must in order for it to do well. Through trial and error we had to learn what were good things to spend our money on and what not to.
What are your beliefs around making a living as a hip hop artist?
My belief is that it’s very achievable. I know because I’ve done it before. Will it be hard? Most definitely, one of the hardest things and artist will encounter. As with any business having good relationships is vital. The same applies for Hip Hop. First your brand and music has to be good, second having relationships involved in the mix can carry your project a long way. Learn the business and work. Make sure your registered to a publishing company like ascap or bmi Explore licensing opportunities via movies, commercials or tv shows. Get to know promoters to book you for performances. Interact with fans that purchase your songs, encourage them to be apart of the journey by staying in touch and spreading the word. Spend your money wisely. Most importantly figure out what works for your brand and stay in the race, its a process, and its a journey not a sprint!
What would advice would you give to someone starting out in the music industry?
My advice would be first and foremost be 100% real with yourself and be sure you have what it takes to compete with whats out there. Don’t expect to make it big if your talent isn’t BIG! With that identified, work, work, and more work! Learn the business so you know what your up against. Know where you want to be. Not every artist wants to be the next Jay Z. There are several artists that make a living in Hip Hop and the masses have never heard of them. Define what you consider successful. Define where you want to be and push toward it. Build your network and relationships and treat them with care. Never burn bridges. Build up your resume so future projects will have credibility behind them! Love what you do and WIN!
How do you use the internet to promote yourself and network?
I use the internet to promote myself by attaching our brand to all the available sites that enable us to attract new viewers. The internet is so huge that its impossible to work all it offers at once. We have narrowed down our networks to what has been most effective for Last Run Ent. Obviously the popular sites you need to be on are Facebook and Twitter, but our blog has also been a huge help for us in getting the word out. Companies that service mp3’s to Dj’s have also helped. Building personnel relationships with our network has been the most effective method that has helped us sustain to this point. We have so much more work to do and new people to meet. We stand on the belief that good music will prevail and the hard work will pay off!
What would people be most surprised to find out about you?
Most people would be most surprised to find out that I’ve been involved in music for so long. To a new listener I’m considered a new artist. That’s flattering because it means I’ve done something right to still be able to be relevant and putting out music on a high level. They would be surprised that I have done songs with some of their favorite artist (Wu Tang members, Dead Prez, Joell Ortiz to name a few). I’ve been on MTV with four videos. And I’m the coolest person on the planet they would ever meet!!
What’s next for Lagato Shine?
Next for Lagato Shine is new music, new vidoes, new relationships and the continuous growth of Last Run Entertainment!