We’re back with another installation of our latest series, TuneCore Tuesdays, which aims to highlight artists and other music professionals who are writing, recording, and hustling on their own terms. By showcasing creatives doing it their way all over the globe, TuneCore Tuesdays aims to empower and inspire our diverse community of artists.
This week we’re talking to Kansas City-based hip hop artist Eric Tyler aka E.T. Check out his video and be sure to learn more about his journey!
What started as a hobby between siblings would eventually blossom into a full-fledged music career: at the age of just 13, future-hip hop artist E.T. aka Eric Tyler and his younger sister would remix their favorite songs and perform for their peers from their church’s youth group. No doubt something a lot of artists can relate to, Tyler learned early that he could move a crowd from a young age, but still kept his skills in his back pocket.
Years later, he’d find himself in the fortunate position of playing Division One NCAA Football for the famed University of Kansas. Still, Tyler found himself using his rhymes to relate and move people.
“I used to freestyle before practices and games to get my teammates hyped up to play,” he says. “We actually made a KU Football mixtape featuring myself and seven or eight of my teammates.”
It was on the field and in the locker room that Tyler was able to garner positive reinforcement for his talent and build confidence as an artist, something he hadn’t planned on pursuing in a serious capacity prior. No small feat when you also have some of the best college football players in America to go up against each week on national television.
“In 2015 I vowed to no longer doubt my skills and gifts as a rap artist,” Tyler recalls. “I started taking music seriously; professional recording, writing, and becoming a student of how to market my music.”
As any independent artist can tell you, the latter component of that statement is no joke. Marketing and promotion is often something artists struggle with out the gate, and Tyler admits as much himself as it pertained to utilizing social media.
“It took me a year or two to iron out a correct promo budget for my music,” he says. “It needed to align with my growing fanbase.”
Tyler began implementing Facebook and Instagram ads into his marketing mix, drawing on data and analytics from his TuneCore streaming and download stats. His stats came in handy as he acknowledged the decline of CD sales each year, and began focusing his efforts around geographical data points to strategically reach fans both domestically and internationally.
But his homebase of Kansas City remained a strength for him both in terms of inspiration and building a deeper network:
“Kansas City has a ton of talented underground artists like TechN9ne, Marley Young, KC Young Boss, and Irv Da Phenom and many more,” Tyler cites. “I’ve built relationships and networked with a lot of KC talent – it’s helped me get booked for shows, as well.”
As he went from the stadium to the studio, Tyler assures us that the mentality of an artist is not all that different from that of an athlete. He speaks on how developing his skills as an athlete and performing on the field has helped cultivate a process for applying himself in his independent hip hop career.
“Football and music have a ton of similarities. The things from football that have helped me with music is incorporating “Practice, Pray, and Execute”. Practicing your skills and gifts to perfect your craft, praying to God for your skills to manifest into success, and execution of your skills with faith to reach your full potential. This has been my foundation and I have a mindset to beat my personal best as I continue to grow as an artist, writer and build my business.”
As he continues to build that business, Tyler points to TuneCore as a resource for applying best practices in an ever changing industry. Building on over eight million streams worldwide, he acknowledges different changes and modifications he’s had to make strategically while maximizing the reach of his discography.
“I am empowered by the autonomy of maintaining my independence and having control of my music career. I run day-to-day business, acting as the CEO of my destiny, and TuneCore has been there for support every step of the way.”