#50: How to Create Your Own Cultural Movement Vol. 2

Part 2 of the secret behind every popular culture movement over the last 10,000 years

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(from Reddit)

Back in October, I wrote "How to Create Your Own Cultural Movement". Since the piece got a positive response, I wanted to take the opportunity to dig a little deeper. Before we get into that, here's what we've covered so far:

  • A "movement" in this context means a marketing campaign around a specific product that aims to provide community, affiliation, and inspiration as well as the desire to live a better life. 

  • For the sake of continuity, I'm going to continue the musician example. I believe the below strategy applies to any creative profession.

From last time: 

  1. Ask yourself, "What do I want to share with the world about myself and my world via my art?"

  2. Look around and find people who share your culture who are in a similar creative space.

  3. Collaborate on projects that appeal to people who share your cultural context with people who share your cultural background. 

  4. Broaden your reach by figuring out how to contextualize your culture to someone completely different from you.

  5. Repeat until you have a million in the bank.

Today, I'm going to elaborate deeper on #2, #3, and #4. #1 is something only you can answer, and #5 is out of your control, so stressing out about it is a waste of time. 


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Find people who share your culture who are in a similar creative space.

"For a handful of years straddling the turn of the century, the Soulquarians treated Electric Lady as a clubhouse — a perpetual hang unburdened by the usual ticking clock of the recording studio. Sometimes their work involved more input than output: Questlove and D'Angelo would hunker down to study bootleg videotapes from old Prince and Stevie Wonder tours, like a coaching staff reviewing game film. Sometimes the energy shifted to accommodate a drop-in guest with fresh ideas. Progress was vague, halting, nonlinear. But the creative vibe of these hothouse experiments attracted other works-in-progress: While D'Angelo and company held court in Studio A, the rapper Common began recording his new album in Studio B, and others (the rapper Mos Def, for example) followed suit in Studio C. These simultaneous recording projects often shared personnel, a sonic aesthetic, even concrete musical ideas: a riff or a groove conceived for one artist might be put to better use by another, leading to some tactical horse-trading. Still, the overwhelming mood was one of urgent creative independence, a conviction that ran counter to the prevailing commercial mode at the time." (Quoted article in homework section below)

The Soulquarians formulated their breakthrough sound in an environment suitable for creative discovery: the iconic Electric Lady Studios in New York City. In an ideal world, the creatives that share your culture have a place to congregate and exchange ideas with each other.* Musicians have jam sessions; writers have clubs, comedians have open mics. It's a place not only to learn and connect, but it allows individuals to learn about how to shape their voice in the proper context of the broader community. 

*A note about online communities: I believe this is the easiest time in history to connect with people all over the world via the internet, but you still have to go outside. I also believe human interaction breeds trust and understanding faster than any other collaborative method. You have to go where people in your culture go. If your people don't have a place to meet, create one. Even within communities that built online, there's still no substitute for bonafide human interaction.
I look at it this way: Think about how many people look cool online, and then you meet them, and they don't match their online persona? Don't be one of those people. 

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Collaborate on projects that appeal to people who share your cultural context with people who share your cultural context. 

“Questlove was the one who started bringing people there. He told everyone what was happening. He was the original Twitter before Twitter. [laughs] He brought Common and Erykah into the studio. He had a vision for Common's album, Like Water for Chocolate. The same applied for Erykah and James [Poyser]. He wanted them to catch the vibes he was getting at Electric Lady. It was this super organic, soulful, psychedelic vibe that he was getting. Electric Lady brought out a certain type of psychedelic vibe in D'Angelo and everybody else, including me.” - Russell Elevado, recording engineer and record producer

"I was working on D'Angelo, Erykah, The Roots, Jill Scott, Bilal, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Common, Slum Village, and Nikka Costa's records. At the height of everything, I was working with 17 different artists. I was really gun shy on any unwelcomed praise. I came from a commune. It wasn't a one man act. I was very uncomfortable accepting a title or praise." - Questlove 

So you've found your people, and you're putting stuff together. It makes sense to combine your efforts and create something new. A few things to get your brain ready for collaboration:

Nobody is "self-made." Enough of this shit! Half the people who say they're self-made mean to say "self-motivated," and the other half is just lying. In order to create a movement that matters, you need a team. Even if you managed to do every single thing yourself, you wouldn't be able to maintain a level of quality for too long. For the young shooters, a word of advice: Stop letting your ego get in the way of the higher goal.

Speaking of teamwork…decide before you get started if you want to be the one in front of the one behind-the-scenes. If you have the ambition to be in front and don't go for it, you turn into a hater. If you have goals to be behind-the-scenes but have to be in front, you'll go crazy (this is why I think a lot of musicians lose it). There's value in both paths, so be honest with yourself. 

Share! 

“People would ask me, "If y'all aren't using it, can I have that?" A great example of that was the song "Chicken Grease" on D'Angelo's Voodoo album. It was actually made for Common. The song "Geto Heaven" on Common's record was made for Voodoo. This was the song that Lauryn Hill and D'Angelo were supposed to do a duet to. When it was made clear that Lauryn Hill wasn't going to be available to sing on D'Angelo's record, Common asked him, "Can I please have that track?"

But what Common didn't know was that D'Angelo said to me, "Yo, man. I can't let him have that funk track y'all did. Common doesn't know what to do with that song. That's the funk I need. You know good, and well that's the funk I need. Common doesn't know what to do with that funk." So I had to broker a peace deal. I said, "If you give him that song, he can take "Chicken Grease," and you can have "Geto Heaven." - Questlove

If your business is set up correctly and you're collaborating on creative projects that will be sold, I think you shouldn't be afraid to share concepts across multiple projects, mainly if you're featured. None of this "I'll get you back on the next one" shit, make sure your business is taken care of. 

Expect the expected.

Jealousy? To be expected.

Greed? To be expected. 

Pride? To be expected.

People acting in self-interest? You guessed it, to be expected!

Every great movement, from the Macedonians to the Black Mafia Family, had to deal with these emotions. Understand that you will encounter all of these things while building your movement because you're working with humans, and all humans share these traits. You can't prevent them because you can't control human beings. Don't let them harden you from collaboration; don't let them turn you bitter. Move with the expectation that you can only control the things you can control. 

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Broaden your reach by figuring out how to contextualize your culture to someone entirely different from you.

An excellent way to do this? Interview yourself! Think about what questions a journalist would ask you about your creative output. Try to answer questions like "What do I have to say about the world?" And "What did growing up in _____ teach me about music?" The better you can articulate your context, the better chance a person has to understand and ultimately support what you're trying to do.

Why do you believe your creative output stands out? What about you stands out vs. the literal thousands of people who are trying to do the same thing you're doing creatively? 

One last thing: In our example, the Soulquarians all had record deals, which allowed their innovative sound and collaborative energy — not to mention that shared cultural context!— to travel all over the world. The most significant step in starting a movement in culture is figuring out how you're going to spread it!


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YOUR HOMEWORK FOR THE WEEK:

TUNES:

From #12:

“Feeling inspired by the return of prep fashion, Virgil at LV —   it’s wild to think that a director at a major fashion house has eaten Harold’s Chicken, right? —  and Black Market Vintage’s Instagram over the past few months, I wanted to recreate the feeling of black ambition and the upward momentum of the black middle class. Not being able to do that, I managed my expectations and created a playlist that sounds like a radio station playing the best black music from the 70s and 80s with no commercials. The obsession quickly grew to three playlists:

The Curl is everything from R&B to soul to electro-funk to disco to whatever they were listening to at FAMU Homecoming 1987.

BEST FOR:

CLEANING YOUR HOUSE, INTRODUCING LITTLE KIDS TO GOOD MUSIC

Curl on Spotify

Curl on Apple Music 

The Relaxer is my humble attempt to make the single best Quiet Storm compilation of all-time. 

BEST FOR:

WORKING LATE, SEX

Relaxer on Spotify

Relaxer on Apple Music

Saturday Night is a Modern Soul/Northern Soul/Funk “mix show” kind of vibe

BEST FOR: GETTING DRESSED BEFORE GOING OUT,  PRETENDING YOU HAVE MORE TASTE THAN YOU DO.

Saturday Night on Spotify

Saturday Night on Apple Music

A heads up that I’m at a good point with these now and I’m either going to turn this fake radio station into a podcast or a NTS radio show this year. Get in tune now, look cool later.

Office Hours is written by Ernest Wilkins. He is on the hunt for All-Star Dunk Contest tickets! Follow everywhere online @ErnestWilkins or email.

#49: Miscellaneous Chicago Things

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Happy New Year!

Before I get started, I'd like to welcome all the new subscribers who've signed up since the last newsletter. I'd also like to thank everyone who's sent an email/text/tweet on my behalf, as well as everyone I've met so far who loves this little experiment. I would be a liar if I said that the 500+ of you who read these words hadn't brought me much-needed confidence at moments where things seemed terrible.


Now that I have some time on my hands, I'm coming to terms with the realization that I can't sit still. So, while I search for a new job, I’m taking on a few projects. A few are still in the works — one in particular will be something fun for my fellow freelancers — but a few are live and ready. Let’s get to it!

CAN I KICK IT VOL. 2

You're going to hear me talk about soccer a lot this year. I've been fascinated by soccer culture for a very long time, especially how it plays into the marketing space.

I've partnered with DJ Step and Chicago Fire FC for Volume 2 of Can I Kick It, a celebration of Chicago soccer culture and all of the people that make up that beautiful community. If you're new to the game (or haven't played since AYSO) it's an opportunity for those who know less (or nothing) about soccer culture to meet some people, listen to great music, and enjoy some drinks. The goal long-term is to build a bigger and better soccer culture in the city and to potentially collaborate with other organizations at the intersection of soccer x culture to make a bigger and better community nationally. RSVP here!

2020: THE YEAR OF CHICAGO MUSIC

If we've hung out in any capacity over the last decade, I've probably mentioned some Chicago music during our conversations. I believe that Chicago's musical legacy deserves to be celebrated on a larger scale. The city is the birthplace of house and gospel music and innovated urban blues and modern jazz. You could make the argument that Chicago was one of the most culturally influential cities of the 2010's — looking at you, Brooklyn, and UK drill — and today's music scene is as strong as ever.

Now, In support of Chicago's thriving music industry, Mayor Lightfoot and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events have designated 2020 as the "Year of Chicago Music." I'm grateful because I've been allowed to serve as a co-chair on the project. In December, our team gave a presentation to the city for a big project that will allow for permanent recognition of some of the cities critical cultural locations as well as helping to spread the word about the cities music scene at events all year long. There is a LOT of cool stuff coming, trust me. 

In the meantime, if you're in Chicago and want to be a part of YOCM, I've prepared some quick notes of things to do. The city is sponsoring more cultural grants in 2020 than they've ever sponsored before and knowing the caliber of talent that reads this thing…if not you, then who?

  • The Year of Chicago Music Band Roster is currently accepting submissions! Chicago based ensemble musicians (18 and over) from a variety of genres are encouraged to apply by Friday, January 31, 2020. Click this link for eligibility requirements and upcoming info sessions. This roster is the roster that the city uses, so make sure you're on it!

  • Early 2020 Youth Music Program Share - YOCM has a robust youth music program schedule for this year. If you work in the field, are an educator or a youth music program provider, check this link to provide information about available youth performances or opportunities through March 2020! Speaking of the kids...

  • Citywide Youth Initiative - DCASE is supporting a new Mayor's Office-led initiative that is aiming to connect every Chicago youth with impactful out-of-school programming. The effort aims to launch summer 2020– and music will be one of the first featured program areas! If you represent a youth music program and would like to get more information, I can connect you, so email me.

  • 2020 CityArts Program - THIS IS THE BIG ONE. The 2020 CityArts Program will be offering grants to nonprofit arts and culture organizations of all sizes. This year's program will include opportunities to apply for general operating grants across all artistic disciplines, as well as project grants in alignment with the City of Chicago's Year of Chicago Music. Project grants will support initiatives that have the potential to impact the Chicago music sector at large. The application will open and guidelines will become available on January 20, 2020. The application deadline is February 28, 2020 at 5:00pm CST. All applicants are encouraged to attend an application assistance workshop. To RSVP for a workshop (I recommend you do one, there's a lot to learn about how things work), visit chicagoculturalgrants.org.


If you enjoyed today’s Office Hours, I hope you’ll consider a paid subscription. Paid subscriptions allow for a better newsletter from me which means more value for you. In addition, paid subscribers will receive exclusive newsletters and early access to the live Office Hours tapings.


TUNES:

Here’s a few of the better 2019 wrap-up playlists I’ve been into:

Maura's 

McGee's 

Riedy's

Office Hours is written by Ernest Wilkins. Seriously, he can use a job.

#48: Free Agency

This is gonna be a long one, strap in.


This week, I found out that I’m being laid off from my job at the end of January.

Because of this life update, today’s newsletter is going to be a little different. I got an idea last night while working on updating my resume: I’m going to share my real resume with every job I’ve had the last 11 years with a key lesson I learned at every stop of my professional journey thus far. Consider this like an annotated resume on steroids. Before we begin, you should listen to this song for context into my mind right now so you fully understand the energy I’m bringing to my job search (and life in general):


ERNEST C. WILKINS III <—— That’s me.

I’m @ernestwilkins everywhere on social/Here’s my LinkedIn!

EXPERIENCE:

Mess Marketing: February 2019 - January 2020

Director of Content

Co-creator/Producer of podcasts: “Overserved” (food/drink), “Rockin’ With The Bigs” (sports) and “Office Hours with Ernest Wilkins” (business/culture).

Despite not knowing how to make a podcast at the beginning of the year. I made 67 podcasts from start to finish in 2019. (“From start to finish” to me means BRED: Booked it. Recorded it. Edited it. Distributed it.)

This year, I was lucky enough to help bring Overserved to life alongside Ari and Maggie. We were named one of Chicago’s best food podcasts and I know more about food and drink now that I’d ever dream possible (Don’t worry, there will be a season two!).

(A fun thing: if you podcast and use Transistor.FM as your distribution platform, that’s me on the homepage)

Key Takeaway: One Thing A Week

Whether it be a podcast, a newsletter, an event activation or just a playlist, I have created one new thing every week this year. It is a pain in the ass to make One Thing A Week. However, it only gets better the more you do it, like smoking meat or having sex. The key is to build a habit of creation.

One Thing A Week.  

Hold yourself to that one standard in your creative pursuits. You can do it, I promise!!!

Reverb.com: December 2017 - October 2018 

Marketing Manager, Reverb LP

Reverb is a music equipment community and reseller that was recently acquired by Etsy.  In my role, I helped to create the brand identity, brand voice and content strategy for Reverb LP, the recorded music category for Reverb.com. As a bonus, I got an on-the-job MBA in product marketing and got to work with Reverb’s supremely-underrated content marketing and social operations to build out LP-focused content like this: 

We got John Oates to rank Hall and Oates albums!

Key Takeaway: Learning On The Job Is The Job

There’s this thing that happens once folks get past age 30 where it feels like there’s nothing else to learn, especially if your role is heavy project management or process-based. If that’s how you feel, adjust that thinking pattern. You don’t know as much as you think you do and even if you’re the rare exception that’s at the top of your game, you still can learn from adapting other perspectives. Even in the most soul-killing jobs where you don’t learn a new skill, learning life things like office politics or learning how to finesse a system will put you ahead of everyone else. Wherever I land next, I can promise that I won’t come in guns blazing, acting like I know everything because Learning On The Job Is The Job.

Red Bull: February 2015 - December 2017

Activation Manager, Culture

  • Lead Storyteller for art/music/dance projects across the Red Bull portfolio in my region.

  • Lead content strategy and content production, Red Bull Music Festival - Chicago (2017)

  • Helped to build full digital communications and marketing plans for Red Bull House of Art (now Red Bull Arts: Detroit)

Key Takeaway: Culture Is Important! 

Red Bull’s reputation in the action sports world is well-earned but I believe they’re on a very short list of brands that can say they ran culture marketing in the 2010s. I’ve seen up close the structural and financial investments into local scenes, the impact of spending those time and resources on demographics early has had on the bottom line — psst, marketing folks: you shouldn’t have had to make a specific strategy to target Hispanic audiences, you should have been talking to them from jump!!! — and because of those investments into culture, I’ve been lucky enough to be in the presence of greatness way before they broke big:

(Jamila Woods, Lizzo and a fan, 2016)

Culture is Important. Your office culture, the culture around your brand, the local culture your business exists in. It’s all important. I’m always skeptical of people who either dismiss the importance of culture for a brand — these are the people who are usually the main ones who never want to spend on marketing their projects, also they’re usually real snoozes at parties — or those companies that over-communicate how perfect and happy their brand culture is. Cult Vibes are out in the 2020’s. 

TRIBUNE/REDEYE

2009 - 2015

Staff Writer

I wrote columns across music, sports, culture, men’s interest and nightlife during a pivotal time in Chicago’s cultural legacy.

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

I also got to dip a toe into personality/hosting:

Key Takeaway: Put Yourself Out There

Redeye helped develop my voice as a writer. I wrote about my dad dying and why the WNBA deserves your respect (Here’s a video of me getting my ass kicked on the court by future 2-time WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne). The gig and my entire career wouldn’t be as successful if there wasn’t an full investment into putting myself out there. As a creative, you’re making something unique to you and your view on the world, right? Put yourself out there so people can fall in love with your perspective.

Freelance Content Strategist                         

2009 - present

  • Consulted on the digital marketing campaign for Season 4 of “The Boondocks” for Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim.

Freelance writer

2009 - present

I’ve been lucky enough to write for publications including GQ, Complex, Pigeons and Planes (I still believe I got the best Smino interview to-date), Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, Jordan Brand, Chicago Magazine and the late great Deadspin (I’m not linking to the current site because I don’t want to give them clicks because fuck them)

Key Takeaway: Do One Thing For You.

I’ll write about this in a later issue, but I have one major spring/summer and fall/winter project a year. For example, Office Hours is my spring/summer 2019 project. My fall/winter 2020 project is already underway. I love having multiple things going on! This format isn’t a foreign concept if you’re a homeowner, there’s always a project to do, right? That’s how I process my creative output. Do one thing for you. In my ideal next job, I’d be able to execute high-level projects while still being able to pursue my side hustles. Regardless, Do One Thing For You. If you’re in a spot where you don’t have time to do a huge thing, do a little one. Be kind to yourself while you’re doing it, too!

So that’s that. 11 years of experience summed up in one newsletter. The hope is that something you read here today will help you in your own explorations as a creative businessperson or push you to finally jump into that side hustle you’ve been eyeing. The world is going to shit anyway, might as well do something that makes you happy, right? 

In the meantime, if you have a lead on a full-time gig you think I’d be perfect for or want to collaborate on a project or just want to give me tickets to the 2020 NBA All-Star Dunk Contest, e-mail me!!!


If you enjoyed today’s Office Hours, I hope you’ll consider a paid subscription. Paid subscriptions allow for a better newsletter from me which means more value for you. In addition, paid subscribers will receive exclusive newsletters and early access to the live Office Hours tapings.


YOUR HOMEWORK FOR THE WEEK

TUNES

Every quarter for the last 7 years, I make a playlist and throw in songs. At the end of year, whatever was in each playlist gets put into one playlist. Here’s 2019’s! 

Office Hours is written by Ernest Wilkins. Seriously, he can use a job.

#47: The Office Hours Interview - Andrew Hampp

  
0:00
-46:14

HOUSEKEEPING:

Office Hours subscribers will get podcast episodes today and next Tuesday, December 24th. Newsletter drops this Thursday and then will return January 2nd. Have a safe and fun holiday!

PODCAST:

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Andrew Hampp is a brand partnerships specialist, copywriter and journalist who founded consultancy 1803 LLC in 2018. Andrew currently works with a wide range of brand, agency and media clients to help them achieve their goals within the music and advertising industries. Prior to forming 1803 LLC, Andrew spend three years with MAC Presents as a VP-Brand Strategist where he focused on helping blue-chip brands and A-list artists build industry-leading music strategies and experiences. He also spent a decade as a full-time music and marketing journalist at spots like Billboard and Ad Age. We talk about how media has changed since the start of the decade (6:00), trends he sees in the partnership space in 2020 and beyond (26:00), brands he thinks are doing cool stuff in the partnership space (33:00) and why Mariah Carey is still somehow underrated as a songwriter (40:00). Enjoy this week’s podcast!


If you enjoy Office Hours, I hope you’ll consider a paid subscription. Paid subscriptions allow for a better newsletter from me which means more value for you. In addition, paid subscribers will receive exclusive newsletters and early access to the live Office Hours tapings!


TUNES:

"Wit Da Team" - Genesis Owusu

"Stay Long Love You" - Mariah Carey feat. Gunna

Office Hours is written by Ernest Wilkins.

Follow me everywhere online @ErnestWilkins or email me here.

#46: The 2019 Study Guide

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Office Hours broke 500 subscribers a few weeks back (I AM SO EXCITED AND LOVE YOU ALL) and to celebrate, today’s newsletter will feature some of the best gems from Office Hours interviewees this year. I’ve included the original question for proper context. 

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One of the main reasons you know what the “Yee-Haw Agenda” was and cultural analyst Bri Malandro on owning your creative concepts:

When I reached out to you, I mentioned that I really wanted to talk to you about this trend now vs waiting until someone else stumbles on the concept and tries to take credit for it. Before we get started, do you have any thoughts about how the marginalized or people of color can get compensated as the "creators" of trends like this one? It’s so hard to take credit for a concept or trend getting hot.

I'm still figuring that part out myself but I think the most important thing is to not give too much away too early. If you have plans to build a brand or content you want to release, keep it to yourself until you have all your ducks in a row because you never know who's watching and what they'll take from you without acknowledgment. When I started using this phrase though I had no idea people would run with it the way they did. I was just having a good time with my mutuals.


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Writer and trend forecaster Ayesha Siddiqi on the way we live now: 

You've said a few times now in articles and on Twitter that we're living in "Bush-era redux". For those of us who aren't hip, what does that mean going into 2019?

More war, more violence, more denial and suppression of those realities by the ruling class of the United States, and subsequently more aesthetic trends formed by that suppression escaping in visual motifs, clues to the global mood.

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Designer Joe Freshgoods on how brand narrative affects his creative output:

You once said in an interview that you like to “tell stories through clothes”. What did you mean by that?

I start thinking about the story before I start thinking about the clothes, most people do it the other way around.r. Like if I’m doing a partnership, I take a notebook and I think about the brands history and then life things with me and my own brand history. I then figure out how to tie these things together. 

I used to want to be a writer. This was like early on, like grammar school. Writing helped me learn the power of engagement because I learned to be very descriptive. I learned to pretty much inject my soul into writing too, like figuring out how to cause an emotion from a person that's reading something. As corny as this may sound, it reminds me of Instagram. Like, I think sometimes people don't understand about Instagram is that it's all about the caption. The storytelling that goes into the picture is more important than the picture itself. I don't look at myself as the person that makes the most superb goods quality-wise, but if you can create a story about your clothes and make the people feel like they're a part of it, you’re onto something. I tell my story through my clothes and my customers honor that.

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Trapital’s Dan Runcie on why rappers need to focus on winning over core fans: 

Nipsey Hussle has been on my mind every day since he died a few weeks ago. While a loss of any community leader is impactful, I truly feel Nipsey was a shining example of how the direct-to-consumer distribution strategy should be a bigger lane for musicians (and content creators overall). You recently wrote about Hussle and his DTC strategy, saying "Big name artists can rely on distributors and succeed. And DTC rappers like Nipsey can serve customers directly and succeed. The artists stuck in the middle are the ones to worry about.”

Those artists stuck in the middle…what can they do to make the current state of the music business work for them?

It’s all about focus. Artists can easily get stuck in the middle when they pursue options that don’t align with a particular strategy. Just because Sicko Mode was on Spotify’s RapCaviar playlist for six months straight doesn’t mean that every rapper needs their hit single to do the same. If an artist knows their fanbase and its specific niche interests, then the artist should focus on attracting fans directly. RapCaviar should be a welcomed bonus, not a prioritized goal.

On the other hand, RapCaviar and other playlists should be goals for artists who rely on the exposure that comes from mainstream publicity, promo runs on mass media outlets, commercials with major brands, and other mass marketing opportunities  These type of artists would leave money on the table by focusing too narrowly on a specific niche.

It’s pattern-matching, honestly. Luckily, there are plenty of successful examples on both ends of the spectrum. The hard part for artists is bypassing tempting financial offers that can steer them away from their intended strategy. 

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Author and sneaker industry analyst Chris Burns on why Nike keeps winning: 

In your book, it feels like you agree with my loose thinking and lay it out pretty clearly that owning content creation has been an intentional move: “Nike understands the importance of content creation for the next generation of sneaker consumers. This is why they paid Ronaldo so much money. This is why Nike is the only major sneaker company to actively launch several Content Management System-based websites like SNKRS and Air.Jordan.com” 

What do you see as the future for sneaker brands making content?

…Do you know in the time since I finished the book that almost every brand in the space has launched some form of CMS? When I wrote in the book that every brand has to be a media company, I meant that. I didn't just say brands however... any business has to be a media company. As far as sneaker brands and content, the future is a three pronged attack of vlog, blog and social that doesn't give away so much to social media. As far as content, brands need to create their own ecosystems for their content where the potential customer consumes content on their channel and they are able to purchase within that channel. Everyone understands the social aspect, but neither brands or retailers understand the gravity and importance of search. The future is actually the past. While the world is excited about Instagram shopping and hitting the consumer where they are, the world was excited about Facebook shopping a few years back and what happened there? When a brand or company gives away their power to third party they are creating a slow road to a loss in margins. What's more important is that the brands and retailers are giving away their power. My entire goal now is to gain a higher ranking in search. I understand that the majority of traffic to a website is from direct and search. I don't think brands understand this completely, but they are beginning to get it. Nike has already shown they understand this. Inside of their digital apps they earn 3X as much per customer. Nike has chosen an approach that gives their brand a perceived authenticity because of their investment into content. Nike has long been an advertising company, everyone else is catching up, but they aren't there yet.

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Trillionaire Vintage’s Chase Gilbert on branding:

I'm a small business owner who needs help with my branding in 2019. What is one thing I should do tomorrow to move in the right direction?

Treat your audience like human beings. Small businesses make the mistake of behaving like big ones, and likewise. On social media, people care about relatability than aspiration.


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YOUR HOMEWORK FOR THE WEEK:

We’re increasingly mistaking visibility for power…” If you’ve never watched Ayesha’s 2015 talk, it’s eerie how early she was about a lot of the stuff that happened from 2016 - now.

“Colin Kaepernick is the black Grinch for those who dream of a white America”

I have never felt smaller and broker until I read this story a few years ago about the war between the Dupont corporation and the Chinese government over THE COLOR WHITE.

TUNES:

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I’ve been on Spotify for 10 years — shout out to good friends and a trusty VPN who held me down before the service came to the US in 2011 — and it’s been really interesting to see how all the data I’ve given the company over the decade has been spit back out to me. Like I’ve discussed before, the only way to fight cultural fossilization is to dive in on stuff you've never engaged with that’s the complete opposite of what you’d normally gravitate towards. I’m of the opinion that the algorithms we use every day are direct contributors to cultural homogeny and lead to culture looking and sounding the same. The only way to stay ahead is to get out of your comfort zone.

While we’re feeling nostalgic, I’ve updated this playlist 11 times in the last 3 days because it’s so fun, hope you enjoy!

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Office Hours with Ernest Wilkins is created and owned by Ernest Wilkins.

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