Reinventing yourself is essential in an industry that prioritizes constant trends to survive. For many artists, being able to adapt and change the tactics that they once used to become successful is the sole reason they are still successful.
Mark Williams Jr, professionally known as Mickey Factz, created his own brand, GFCNY, sixteen years ago, at a time when the industry was reeling from streaming and bootlegging. As one of the most prominent emcees in the blog era, he was a part of a class of rappers who were ahead of the curve.
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So if you are a musician, rapper, artist, or producer looking to redefine who you are in the music industry, you will definitely want to be taking notes because this interview was packed with knowledge that might just define your career.
All quotes throughout the article are pulled from our latest interview with the rap icon.
Marketing Yourself As A Musician Is Essential
For Mickey, adapting and reinventing himself is nothing new. As an emcee eager to gain attention, he first garnered a buzz for himself by building an online presence, releasing his first project in 2006.
In Search of N.E.R.D. put Mickey’s name out there to the world and put rap on notice. Motivated to pursue music fully and unable to secure a label deal, Mickey quit his job in 2007 and started his own label, GFCNY (God, Family, and Culture) in 2007.
Two years after Mickey’s debut, he and several of his peers donned the cover of XXL’s 2009 Freshman magazine. Several of his peers were either signed to major labels or would go on to land major label deals, but Mickey was the only one who could say he got there without any major label attention.
On the same day of the shoot, Mickey secured a branding deal with Honda, serving as one of their spokesmen for their 2009 and 2010 vehicles. His style and charisma impressed the staff.
Doing the deal not only added to his buzz but also helped strengthen his brand as a talented artist who didn’t rely on much other than talent to stand out.
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“The Honda stands the test of time. It’s not flashy, but it gets the job done. That’s what I represented. I ended up doing two commercials for them as a result.”
Build a Team of Like-Minded People to Help
Unemployed during the 2008 Recession, Mickey lacked the resources he needed to compete with other independent artists, many of whom were being courted by major labels.
“I built a team around me who were creatives just like me. I didn’t have money, but I had a stylist. I had an A&R. I had a manager who helped with marketing as well. I had a producer ahead of the curve.
I also had a booking agent, attorney, and graphic designer. We operated like a label without the capital.”
Be Consistent With Your Content
Consistent work helped Mickey land on the XXL Cover and brought countless opportunities his way. His marketing strategy of releasing new songs every week built his fanbase up and over time became the strategy several other artists would copy.
But despite his success, his biggest regret was failing to release music consistently after obtaining initial fame. Upset at how people began borrowing from his blueprint, Mickey halted his release of new music and stepped away from music for a few years.
Capitalize on Every Opportunity
Me not working with Dame hurt me as well. He met Curren$y, Wiz Khalifa, Stalley and myself at the same time and I was the one emcee who didn’t work with him. A lot of people built a name off of that and I just went in my own direction.
Mickey’s decision not to partner alongside Dame Dash and his media company, Creative Control, played a role in the inertia his career experienced following his XXL Cover.
Always Be Ready To Adapt
In the years since his first release, Mickey’s underwent a few changes. Most recently, he’s launched his own school, Pendulum Ink, to school upcoming emcees on the finer points of the genre, from battle rap and content creation to guest speakers.