THE HIERARCHY OF BECOMING A STAR (MUSIC)
3. GROWTH POTENTIAL
· The importance of image is how we want to be portrayed to the people. The unknown caveat based on presentation (see next section), is how the people perceived the artist regardless of how we present. It spans from everything to how the artist dress, to the places he/she chooses to hang out. Image is the foundation of what we sell. It’s the story we tell minus the words.
· EX: While he did not last a long time during his run, the image of Trinidad James is what truly got him a $2 million dollar bonus from Def Jam. His image was believable, low maintenance, and relatable to people who didn’t look or dress like him. The corporations buy into the image. Kendrick Lamar has stamped his image as being the voice of the people. J Cole has stamped his image as being the voice of a generation. Macklemore has stamped his image as being the voice of the hip hopper who has no reference of culture.
BOTTOM LINE: Image is who you represent; eventually evolving into who represents you
· Bill Cosby once had a joke on his show reference the true principle of presentation. He made reference to a steak being presented on a trash lid compared to a plate. The steak on the trash lid can taste just as good, if not better, than the steak on the plate. However, we would choose the steak on the plate simply based on presentation. The outlets of presentation don’t have to be conventional; it simply has to add up to the portrayal of image and connect with those people
· EX: The world was introduced to DMX in 1997. The first time he was presented to the world was his video for his debut single, ‘Get at me dog’. If you take time to reference the video, it was shot at an old club in NY named The Tunnel. It was shot in Black and White with DMX wearing overalls. He was sweating along with the people; the energy in the building was through the roof. The video was ruff, the video was grimy, the video was rugged, and the video was DMX. This was one of the blueprints of image meeting perfect presentation
BOTTOM LINE: The way you are introduced to people is as, if not more important, than the people actually seeing you
· To obtain long term profitability, the people have to see growth potential. Rarely in music, artists are able to flip onto a totally different audience or new generation of fans at different points in their respective (Juicy J was a pioneer behind crunk music in the early 90s but has had a resurgence of new fans over the last 4 years). For the rest of the mere mortals, your audience has to grow with you. When the artists grow, the audience grows right along with them. In some respects, the artist is put in positions where they merge their audience with another (Juicy J and Katy Perry). The real key is to always be in a mode of growing (Kendrick Lamar 1 album compared to 2 album, 50 Cent 1 album compared to 2 album). In the movie WALL STREET, Gordon Gekko famously said, “Always be closing”. In our position, we should ‘Always be growing’.
· EX: Between the periods of 2005-2009, there was no hotter rapper on the planet than Lil Wayne. He was on every remix, and had mixtapes out seemingly every week. What was not then understood was the versatility of the music he was doing. He would get on a song with T-Pain, Playaz Circle, and 5 ward Weebie all in the same month. The sound between 1996 to the early 2000s had evolved. His growth was evident by his versatility; not only the versatility, but making it seamless to the listener and customer. He was a fan of so much dealing with culture that it became a part of him, eventually revolutionizing the skateboard culture to the hip hop world.
BOTTOM LINE: Don’t box yourself in and assume the fans won’t grow with you. Growth is essential to all things music and life
· This section is less about the business of marketing and more about the whom of marketing. Of course, any paying customer is appreciated. It is impossible to sell people something they don’t want to buy. PERIOD. The next step is finding out exactly who wants to buy. More importantly, marketing has to explain why they should buy.
· EX: After the success of his debut album GET RICH OR DIE TRYIN, 50 Cent became the torch bearer for the entire hip hop community. In his mind, it was about duplicating the success of his debut album; anything less, the people would have been clamoring ‘he fell off’. To ensure this didn’t happen, he resorted to his image merged with his growth to come up with the perfect marketing. From “How to rob” in his early days, to “Back Down” on GRODT, the general consumer often equated 50 Cent with content used to create conflict with other artists. On his 2 album, THE MASSACRE, he found a new angle in his formula. He went on to diss rappers Fat Joe, Jadakiss, and Nas on the song ‘Piggy Bank’ for associating himself with rival rapper Ja Rule. ‘Piggy Bank’ was the song which received the most hype and anticipation for the time of its release. It made people want to buy the album to hear what he had to say about the aforementioned artists. With the anticipation, he flipped the attention into spawning #1 pop friendly hits ‘Candy Shop’ and ‘Just a Lil Bit’. All the while putting on a world tour, being featured on MTVs “All eyes on me” series, and being the subject of MTVs ‘Making the video’ 3 times.
BOTTOM LINE: Allow leverage and image to dictate the marketing strategy. It gives a clear and concise direction to who is going to buy
· While branding is very similar to image, the branding of an artist is more personal. It has more to do with the affiliations in how he/she chooses to live their lives. Back in 1999, Nas was managed by Steve Stoute and he turned down a deal that was brokered for him to endorse Budweiser. The reasoning wasn’t because Nas did not enjoy alcoholic beverages, but because he did not want to portray to kids it was cool to drink alcohol. His image wouldn’t have been compromised, but his brand would have. Branding is more about personal affiliations than personal preferences.
· EX: I always respect people who are true to themselves. I understand why people like Hilary Clinton trying to appeal to the plight of the black man in America; I just don’t respect it because I know she doesn’t. This brings me to one of the greatest athletes of all time: Tom Brady. He and his wife are worth over half a billion dollars. He enjoys the finer things in life. He has just as many endorsements as a Peyton Manning or a Drew Brees. The difference is he endorses high end products that he personally uses. Tom Brady endorses $5000 mattresses (see BeautyRest Mattress) and $200 Nutrition Manuals. He’s not like the common person and his taste reflects it. His branding is an extension of who his is outside of Gillette Stadium
BOTTOM LINE: I described image as who you represent. Branding is the other half; it’s what you represent
· Fortunately or unfortunately, music is the least important part of becoming and maintaining your stay as a star. Music evolves; so should artist. Within the evolution, it is important to know who you are prior to the evolution of music. It is important to evolve before music as a whole evolves. If you do not know who you are as an artist, you will be forever chasing sounds and images that don’t belong to you nor are true to who you are and what you represent (similar to Hilary trying to get the black vote) The only job of music is to tie in everything that creates your story. PERIOD
BOTTOM LINE: I THINK I JUST SAID IT