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Nashville hip-hop artist Z. Smith talks ‘Ready Up’ and technology (Includes interview)

“I started writing ‘Ready Up’ back at the end of April of 2018 and at the time I had just put out a 15-track project I made with Ryan Rajagopal, and I felt like nobody was listening to it,” he said. “We had put a ton of work into that CD over like an eight-month period and when it came out I was just at a very low point mentally.”

Smith continued, “So I started writing, the only way I really know how to deal with things I don’t want to talk about, and I found the instrumental for Ready Up and it flipped my mood like a switch. Out of nowhere, I felt positive and happy, like I was ready to bounce back and that really became the message for the song, to look back and see how much ground we had really covered and to be ready and prepared for what was next to come. I didn’t end up meeting with Meggie until a couple months later when we had a basic demo ready to go and she was immediately on board and took it from a recording/idea to something so much more. She really made it into a complete song and I’m very grateful for that.”

Regarding his future plans, Smith said, “I have new music. I am really looking forward to building on the relationship with my publicist, Trevor Perkins, and his company LongArrow Publicity. Trevor has been a great asset, getting the name Z. Smith out there, booking interviews and really supporting me as an artist. More immediately, I will be doing a radio interview with Nashville Access on January 17, releasing the ‘Ready Up’ music video on January 24, and then I’ve got some new songs coming out with Brittany Bishop and Ryan Oakes.”

On his musical inspirations, he said, “A good amount of the time, it’s real life events or emotions. When I started writing, it was just a method for processing anger or frustration, and I still use that in my writing now, but lately, I have been trying to actively expand my range by commenting on events outside of my personal life and getting out of my comfort zone.”

He continued, “I do feel like my best music evolves from significant moments that I experience for myself. Right now, I’m working on a song that focuses on a part of me that I’ve never told anyone about, something that I’ve been concerned with for a long time. It’s the raw honesty that comes with that type of writing that I feel gives my music a lane in the industry.”

Digital transformation of the music business

On the impact of technology on the music business, Smith said, “Streaming services have taken over. Especially with Spotify, streaming numbers are what make or break you as an artist or a musician. I definitely did not come up in the age where people actually purchased music. I grew up with LimeWire and toward the end of the iTunes era, where people burned CDs and downloaded MP3 files because it was easier than spending $1.29 for a song.”

Smith continued, “I started making music when SoundCloud was the big way to show legitimacy, and now that’s on the downslide. Now it’s easier than ever to get placed on Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon MP3, and as a result, it is much harder to make money off your music just from recording and selling it. The scary thing is, these changes are happening exponentially, so there’s no telling what the next big change will be or how fast it will come. This industry isn’t the same as what it was five years ago, and I am sure five years from now it will look completely different.”

Regarding his use of technology as a musician, Smith said, “I am constantly on my phone, checking the amount of Spotify streams I am getting each day, where each song is being played in the country and how often, trying to understand what kind of fan base is building and how we can keep the momentum rolling.”

He continued, “I am always emailing my reps about new opportunities. I don’t really use social media all that often, but when I do I use it to look into new artists and try to identify new markets. A day without my phone or computer is a day out of the loop, and as an artist trying to make a name for himself, that’s not something I can afford.”

Smith listed Joyner Lucas, MGK, and Vince Staples as the artists he would like to someday collaborate with as his dream collaboration choices. The same holds true for Cal Scruby or Futuristic. “Both are insanely creative lyricists with great vision, and Cal and I both come from Cincinnati. It is definitely on my bucket list to work on something with him and learn from what he has to say,” he said.

For his fans, he said, “The responses, streams, and views for ‘Ready Up’ have definitely been the most positive I’ve received since making music and I really want to say thank you to anyone who has been listening. There are tons of people out there chasing a career in the music industry, now more than ever, and to see one of my songs consistently being played each day is humbling.”

“I am very grateful for each person that is out there listening to my music when there are thousands of options out there, and I really hope they enjoy the video we’ve got coming out for it in the next couple of weeks,” he added.

To learn more about Nashville hip-hop artist Z. Smith, check out his official website.

Markos Papadatos
Written By

Markos Papadatos is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for Music News. Papadatos is a Greek-American journalist and educator that has authored over 21,000 original articles over the past 18 years. He has interviewed some of the biggest names in music, entertainment, lifestyle, magic, and sports. He is a 16-time "Best of Long Island" winner, where for three consecutive years (2020, 2021, and 2022), he was honored as the "Best Long Island Personality" in Arts & Entertainment, an honor that has gone to Billy Joel six times.

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