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  • BY TAURA STINSON

Monthly Dose of Dope


Taura Stinson is a veteran songwriter who has written for recording artists including, but not limited to Raphael Saadiq, Destiny’s Child, Jennifer Hudson, Usher, Steven Tyler and Mary J. Blige, to name a few. To learn more about Taura, please visit www.EatWriteHear.com

When I first got started in the music industry, successful independent artists were like an aurora borealis. We knew that they existed, and saw pictures even, but we never actually saw one ourselves.

Being from Oakland, I remember cutting through Eastmont mall to get home from school and on countless occasions, I saw Too Short there. He was usually in a store on the bottom level on the end parallel to 68th Avenue, called Mr. Z’s. I was in awe, because early on, I understood the concept of cutting out the middleman and going directly to the source. So, I had hella respect for Short and those that followed in his foot steps, because lets be honest, $10 per sale is always better than a fraction of a single dollar.

I learned that to be true when I signed my first record deal, or correction, PRODUCTION deal. If you saw the New Edition movie, then you have a solid reference point. Remember when Mike Bivins confronted the label head about their money and he’s told that he isn’t signed directly to the label? Yeah, well that was our situation. We were signed to One Love records and executed an inducement letter to Mercury. Had our album been a success, we would have had to pay the label and our producers before ever seeing a dollar ourselves. Oh, and we would have had to split the pennies that were due to us, three ways.

That was the reality that I faced when I sat a few thousand miles away from East Oakland in New York City. We had an amazing four- bedroom penthouse apartment on Bleeker Street, but I wondered, “When do we have to pay this back”. I asked the executive from One Love, but she wasn’t as forthcoming as I would have hoped, so that’s when I first purchased the books “All You Need To Know About The Music Business” and “This Business of Music”. I was both motivated and mortified after reading them because I realized that the career that chose me wasn’t the walk in the park that I had imagined.

Time would solidify that prediction because my group didn’t become successful but I started to gain more notoriety as a writer and in my onion, writers need a clear vision of how this business work more than anyone else, because this is essentially all that we have. Recording artists tour and the successful ones even get lucrative endorsements. Producers get huge advances, but writers are usually paid on the backend. I have come to a place where that’s unacceptable to me, given that the lions share of producers are men and they are paid for their time, I decided that I deserve the same respect and compensation, but, I digress, because that’s truly a whole other article, but what I want to put emphasis on is the importance of educating yourself, even as a creative.

If you can go to college, great. That’s the move, but if you can’t or haven’t, picking up a book or downloading an audio book or informative pod cast is essential to your success as an aspiring entertainment professional. Read gum wrappers if they are going to bring your closer to understanding this very intricate and misleading business.

That’s why I LOVE SO FN DOPE MAGAZINE! It’s SO FN DOPE that this magazine is offering indie artists an international platform filled with amazing artists and columns like this that will help to enlighten you on your journey. My goal in this segment is to highlight indie talent and be a resource to aspiring music industry professionals.

Like I said, growing up, I was enamored with Too Short because his story was like local neighborhood folklore. We saw him driving around in a custom drop top Bertiz, cocaine white to be exact. He was sparkling example of success, gliding through our poverty stricken streets and he set the bar for other artists that would follow in his footsteps. Master P had a record store in Richmond, a neighboring city of Oakland and he too became uber successful by cutting out the middleman and going directly to the source.

Now, being an independent artist is the bar. Long gone are the days where artists don’t feel validated unless they are signed to a major label. We now get a sense that there is boundless freedom in being free to choose your own producers, create your own marketing plan and reach your audience in your own way. With that in mind, I am partnering with SO FN DOPE Magazine in an effort to showcase the dopest indie artists under the sun, but we need the audiences help too. Independent artists do not have the proverbial Mommy and Daddy to help cover expenses. This is a word of mouth business and we need your voice. If you love any of the artists that you see in this magazine, please let us know. Let your network of people and social media village know too. We often support the supported but it’s about time that we shine a little light on those currently climbing the mountain and focus less on those that have already reached the mountain-top. We can’t keep complaining about the poor quality of mainstream music when we don’t support the high quality music bubbling underground. There are so many dope artists out there. I encourage you to go on a major label artist fast for one week. In that week, listen to indie artists only and let us know what you find. Please email your submissions to submissions@sofndopemagazine.com to be considered. Feel free to submit an artist that you’ve heard, represent or submit your own project. Submission guidelines are below.

I’m looking forward to listening to all genres of music from artists all around the world. In the mean time, learn this business…if you want it to be your future!

This is gonna be SO FN DOPE!

SO FN DOPE ARTIST OF THE MONTH SUBMISSION GUIDELINES.

  • Email one mp3 of your dopest song

  • Include a sound cloud or website link for other songs or full projects

  • Include a high-resolution photo of yourself in the body of the email

  • Include your name, telephone number and SED ARTIST SUBMISSION in the SUBJECT LINE OF THE EMAIL. We will not share your personal information

  • Include your social media handles in the body of the email.

  • Lastly, in 500 words or less. Tell why you are SO FN DOPE.

  • By submitting your photo and music, you hereby give SO FN DOPE Magazine and successors permission to share the attached MP3/Photo with its subscribers and audience.

  • You will be notified via email if you are one of five artist to be chosen per month.


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