PictureRecently one of our readers called independent Black/Latino content creators, artists and event organizers: “lazy.” On one hand, I totally disagree. It takes a lot of blood, sweat and tears to create works from very little resources. But on the other hand, when it comes to marketing, promotion and presentation; I would have to agree, a lot of Black/Latino indie artists are fucking lazy. Cypher Avenue has become one of the most visited websites created by & for particular men of color in the country…with that growing popularity comes a platform to help independent artists (like ourselves) gain exposure. In the last year we’ve received many-many-many requests from artists, event organizers and content creators to feature them or their work on our website…through Twitter.

Time and time again we see that these individuals are considerably lacking in the basics of marketing and promotion that we see in abundance from their Caucasian counterparts. These inadequacies factor heavily into our decisions to feature a request or not, usually the latter.

So this list is meant to help all of you step your game up. Outside of this website, we have jobs related to entertainment and business. So this advice actually comes from experience. Some of the tips may seem like common sense but I promise you they need to be said to 90% of the people reaching out to us for exposure. We share these words of advice not to shame or preach down to, but to encourage and to help uplift.

If you’re an indie artist without a TEAM and just solo, these tips may seem like a lot of extra work to your already heavy load. That comes with the territory though. As they say, No Pain No Gain…If you’re not willing to work, long hard hours for the advancement of your career, then who will?


It amazes me how many bloggers, musicians and web series creators choose names that are already taken by thousands of others on the web. What this does is make it a thousand times harder to search them out on the internet.For example: A trailer for a new black gay reality show pilot was quietly released on the internet with the stunningly unique title of…wait for it… “Bricks.” Yes, you read that right. The title of this show is something as fucking common as “Bricks.” If you Google: Bricks you will get over 50 million results. Need I go on? As an independent artist or budding entrepreneur, it’s important to stand out. Especially when it comes to a name. Unique branding is vital. When coming up with a name for your website, your web series, or even just yourself as a rapper or on-screen personality, make sure it’s a name that isn’t already taken by many others.A good website to do a check for this is:
From the site: was designed to instantly show you if your desired or branded username was available at the majority of the top social networking websites. By typing your username into the “chk” search box, it will search all the social sites listed on the page and display whether the username is taken or available.


Stop sitting back and waiting to “Go Viral.”
Blogs, websites, event organizers, artists and content creators are symbiotic creatures. We need each other. The artists give us bloggers something to blog about, and the blogs give the artists much needed exposure and promotion. However, the indie artists make our jobs harder than they need to be, resulting in us not knowing to blog about them at all.
Even if the coverage is negative, being blogged about nowadays can be the difference between selling 50 mixtapes or 500 mixtapes for a musician because exposure is everything. So why is it that many content creators have the worst methods for marketing and releasing their content?
Sending a Tweet or 140-character Direct Message to a publication or website is not adequate Public Relations. A Tweet or Facebook Message is not a Press Release!
Example: I’ve seen musicians and web series creators exclusively announce the release of their new mp3 or web episode on Twitter…even though they only had 300-1000 followers.
And after they tweet out the link…that’s it, they’re done…marketing efforts over. No reaching out to other sources. WTF?!
Don’t get me wrong, sometimes us bloggers and writers do accidentally stumble upon cool stuff and rush to share it or we get tips from our readers…But if you’re an independent Black or Latino artist, why sit back and wait for popular websites or magazines to “discover” the brand new work you quietly (and sometimes apathetically) released online to your fans (who might have missed it) when you could make the bloggers/writers aware in an instant by sending the work directly to them? As stated earlier, we need you as much as you need us.
Homework Assignment: Write a list of ALL the blogs and websites that you feel your work would be a good fit for…Then find any and all submission or contact emails for these sites. Most of them have a “contact form” but try, try, TRY to find a direct email address as best you can (even if it means investigative work on Google), many sites have email addresses listed for the editor-in-chief. Write all of this down and send each of them a personalized Press Release, Electronic Press Packet and request for submission on their site.
Eventually you can even build a relationship with the Editors or Writers and collaborate on exclusive announcements or releases to increase your priority level at the website or magazine and your audience outreach even more.
When many Caucasian indie music artists release new tracks, they send those tracks to popular music magazine websites such as where they include both the track AND artwork for the music in the submission. Even if its an abstract image or an old baby picture of yours with the title of the track written on it, send some artwork to go along with your music. I know this sounds like common sense, but for many musicians out there it needs to be said.
Even if a Blog only has 2,000 twitter or Facebook followers, their few followers may include people who are not already familiar with your work. Now multiply that by 10 different blogs with 2,000 followers…that’s 200,000 new people who could be exposed to your work if you were to get featured on their websites. If you’re selling a product, that could potentially be the difference of earning thousands of dollars in profit.
Also, the social media follows for a website never reflects the number of people that actually visit the site. Between our website and our iTunes podcast, we easily reach thousands upon thousands of individual readers per month from around the globe. All of them starving for new content to be exposed to.
In my line of work (this website and my day job), I see countless emails from independent heterosexual artists who know how to play the game. Sure they send tweets as well, but usually only after they or their Public Relations Representatives have sent quality Electronic Press Packages on top of that. It’s time that their Black/Latino counterparts do so as well.


So what’s a proper Electronic Press Package and what does it look like? We’ve had people contact us at Cypher Avenue to highlight their work with emails that contained very little information or just simple links to Facebook pages or YouTube videos. Swerve, breh. If you’re making me work to learn the basics about your project then most likely I’m not going to do it. I have a day job and some emails from other people who were more professional.
A proper Press Package includes the bare minimum information we need to share your project or event without having to take too much extra energy on the writer’s part to search for needed details. We don’t need your entire life’s story, just some essentials. Here’s some of the elements that a proper email should include:
  • The name of the project/event
  • Short Bio information
  • Release dates and/or times
  • Short synopsis for the web series, movie or video
  • All relevant links to the video, music track, fundraiser, website, etc that you are promoting
  • High Resolution photos associated with you or your work (Screenshots, Photo-shoots, etc)
  • Press Passes to your screening, event, performance, release party, etc

To date, the only content creator to send us all of the information we needed in a single email (not a Tweet) was Sean Anthony, creator of the web series, No Shade. He sent us the email below along with 3 high resolution photos attached!

Email Submitted to Cypher Avenue:


The professionalism here was impressive and much appreciated. Notice how he even personalized parts of the email just for Cypher Avenue so that it didn’t appear just as a Copy-and-Paste form letter. Just being honest, I even think a single tear streamed my face when I saw this submission in our inbox. Sadly, he only did this for his first episode. We bookmarked his initial email but never got updates that he had released more episodes and eventually started a fundraiser for his show.
You can’t assume that people will just stumble on this new information/updates after your first submission, even if they subscribe to your YouTube channel, RSS feed or iTunes podcast. Tweets and updates get lost in the mix for the average social media user, so imagine how stuff can get by online publications such as ours (and others). So don’t assume that just because you tweet out a link once a week, that was more than enough promotion. You can send writers tweets, but only as backups, make sure your primary Press Release is through traditional emails as well.
You must be diligent when promoting your work just as the Pros do it. Consider how many advertisements we see from major artists and networks, they promote the hell out of their product, even on the grassroots level. Movie studios have free screenings of films just for the press so that they’ll write reviews of the work, thus helping to promote them further. Television networks send episodes of shows to critics in advance so they can promote the episodes before air-dates. Music labels often send advanced copies of releases or tracks to magazines and websites for review and highlighting. These machines have whole departments dedicated to marketing.
You don’t have that machine behind you, I get it. That means you have to personally promote every new release with the same fire & intensity as the first. Promote each music track as if it were your first…each web series episode as if it were your pilot…and each social event as if it were your introduction to the world. Even if the blog never actually shares your work, be persistent. Once a day you may send them something that impresses them or hit their inbox on a good day and you finally get that blog share that helps to build your fan-base.
In the history of Cypher Avenue, we’ve NEVER had anyone request to be interviewed by us for the website or our podcast. It’s kind of like a high school girl waiting to be asked to go to prom. Why wait? Do you think the Studios sit around and wait for interview requests when they are building promotion for a new Summer Blockbuster movie? There’s nothing wrong with sending a press package to a website and saying: I’m also available for interviews.
Help us to help you. We can’t do 100% of the work for you. Remember that you may release a new episode once a month or a new music mixtape once a year, but we writers and bloggers are usually creating and sharing new content once a day. So oftentimes we forget your film or music releases unless you remind us or keep us updated…a lot gets lost in the mix unless you specifically tell us that you’re releasing something new.
And this advice DOESN’T just apply to Cypher Avenue, send your Press Release and  Electronic Press Packet to EVERY WEBSITE, WRITER, BLOGGER, RADIO PERSONALITY, NEWS ORGANIZATION you think will even just POSSIBLY spread the word about your project. If you’re a filmmaker, EVERY film blog should be receiving your Press Package…If you’re a musician, EVERY music blog should be receiving your Press Package.

Doing so may eventually land your project on the eyes of someone that can change your career forever.



Not only is it wise to have a unique name, you must also be original. This goes without saying but having covered many content creators over time, we’ve discovered that a great deal of them merely copy the styles of others already doing it.
It’s hard for us to count the sheer number of ADTV clones out there. Or the many gossip blogs sharing the same “exclusive” information and photos. Or the films depicting the same storyline of 4 gay best friends sharing laughs and tears as they look for love.
Hell we’ve even had “Gay Men of Color” blogs out there steal original content from our website and pass it off as their own (yes, we’re talking to you).
Imitation is not flattery…it’s a lack of creativity.
No matter what your area of expertise is, try to put a new creative spin on things. There is nothing new under the sun, but at least take a little time to distinguish yourself from the herd. When you stand out from the pack, you make it easier and more desirable for the audience to find and support you.




Seriously. Its 2013. Why don’t these content creators have a fucking website? Your YouTube page is not your website. Your twitter profile is not your website. If you’re a web series creator, you must have a website for your work. If you’re a musician, you must have a website for your work. Not only that, you must have your contact information CLEARLY listed somewhere on that website.
Think about it: What if the head of programming at HBO loves your web series and wants to contact you about it? Should they create a YouTube account and leave their request for a meeting in the comments section on your latest YouTube video? No, they won’t do that. They will move on to another artist who makes it easy to contact them.

Same applies to all other content creators and event organizers. If I want a rapper to perform at an event, how likely is it that they will have a website with clear booking information? Not very fucking likely based on what we’ve seen.

You need a website featuring your work and contact information! If you don’t have the money to build a site, there are many easy free options out there like Tumblr, Weebly, Wix and WordPress. Just make sure your site looks clean and professional.

What about the few people out there that already have a web page? They have a head start but unfortunately many of these sites are rarely updated and look like cheap Blackplanet pages from 15 years ago. I’d be hard pressed to name a website from a black event/party promoter that actually lists correct contact info or even the details of their upcoming or recently passed events. Or a website that doesn’t have deformed, squeezed photos causally thrown around the pages. This is not the case when it comes to their white counterparts, even the ones without budgets or professional PR reps.

Side Note: For God’s sake, don’t build your website with music or videos that automatically play when a person visits your site. I ALWAYS automatically leave those pages without a second thought or care for what I might be missing. Give me the option to play that media or don’t have it on your site at all, don’t force it on us.