How To Spend On Your Art Like 2 Chainz

by Andre Gonsalves

The other day rapper 2 Chainz dropped an instagram post that just made me smile. Here’s it below:


Are you smiling? Good.

If you’re not sure who 2 Chainz is, he’s a rapper from Atlanta that blew up a few years back from the song “Spend It”, the very song which he says he spent his last $4o,000 on.

Due to the success of “Spend It”, 2 Chainz has gone on to make millions. I remember seeing a comment saying that $40,000 investment is now worth $10 million.

Now to many this may feel like 2 Chainz hit the lotto or was lucky or it was God’s plan or some reason outside of one’s self. But the message is clear: he invested in himself first.

This is something all creatives struggle with, even myself. I could never imagine dropping $40,000 on a music video. The most I’ve ever spent on a music video was $15,000 and even that was insane.

But it worked because the majority of artists are trying to get on by spending nothing, which means if you even put a little money into your product, you’ll be so much further ahead.

Invest In Your Art, Not Somebody Elses

Many times, particularly rappers, will spend on cars, clothes and jewelry before spending any money on their art. Sometimes they’ll spend so much on other people’s art they wont have any money to spend on their own! This is backwards thinking. I would go as far as to say you’re not a real artist if you don’t spend on your art. Being an artist is like being a business, you have to spend money to make money. Just like 2 Chainz says, you have to spend on recording, production, mixing and mastering, music videos and I’d add graphic design and photography if you want fans to take your product seriously.

And like 2 Chainz said it isn’t guaranteed that you’ll be successful if you do all of the above. Most likely you’ll have to do all of the above multiple times before you develop any traction in the marketplace. Think about it, you’re competing against artists like Drake and Kanye who spend millions producing and promoting their wares.

Could a company that spends nothing compete with Apple or Google or Facebook? Even small startups need investment to grow.

How Much Should I Spend?

You’re probably asking yourself how much you budget for your project. A few years back I remember Diplo saying that all you need to blow up as rapper was $20,000 and in fact that’s how much he said rapper Riff Raff invested himself. I think that might even be too high today and you could probably spend $10,000 every year for 2-3 years and you’d have a fan base to make a living from.

How would I spend $10,000 you ask?

If you’re first starting out and recording at home and have nothing like not even a computer, you’re probably going to want to spend $2000 just on getting a computer, a mic, preamp and acoustic panels.

Then you’d probably spend $1000 on mixing and mastering 10 songs and another $2000 on production (if you’re buying beats from producers).

Now I’d take the 2 best songs from your project and shoot videos for them. You spend $2000 per music video. Keeping in mind you’re not going to get a Drake level music video. Drake probably spends $2000 just on the catering for his music videos.

And you spend the last $1000 on graphic design and photography.

So this is what the math looks like:

    $2000 on recording
    $2000 on production
    $1000 on mixing and mastering
    $4000 on music videos
    $1000 on graphic design and photography
    Total = $10,000

You still may have no fans but at least you’ll have a respectable product. And you can at least call yourself a rapper or singer or recording artist.

And after you’ve done all that what do you do? You do it again and again and again and keep investing in your art for as long as you want to be making art, which for real artists should be for life.

Me personally I may have periods where I slow down and life gets in the way but I know I will be doing something creative for the rest of my life.

For me this isn’t a one time thing or something I just did when I was young, this is a calling, and I’d suggest you look at it the same way.

Are You Investing in Yourself?

Andre is the head audio engineer at ADG Mastering, which he helped found in 2012. For the last 10 years, he has made it his mission to empower aspiring artists and musicians from around the world. You can see more of Andre's writings on our Blog.

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