I’m a 19-year-old NYU student who consumes media and music like an all-you-can-eat bag of popcorn at the movies. In my binge-listening and general media consumption, I’ve noticed some current trends in the music industry. From artists borrowing from one another, to the popular emergence of branded merchandise—marketers, listen up:
1. Don’t be afraid to borrow from your competitors… but make it better.
Take KAYTRANADA, a 25-year-old producer from Montreal, for example. He combines many different genres, creating his own entirely unique sound. The up-and-coming musician grabs influences from hip-hop, jazz, indie-pop, house, and soul. What makes KAYTRANADA’s music so good is that he borrows from all of these genres, creating music that appeals to a wide audience, while at the same time making a sound that’s distinctly his.
2. Listen to your customers and give them what they want.
From their content release strategy to their music videos and social media tactics, The Chainsmokers are killing it right now. A lot of people have accused the Grammy Award-winning DJ duo of releasing songs that are very similar to one another. You know what—they’re right. Their songs all sound pretty similar, but who cares? The Chainsmokers know their audience well enough to understand what music they like.
In terms of their content release strategy, The Chainsmokers always release their new singles on Friday, knowing that their primarily millennial audience will play them over the weekend while hanging out with their friends. Similarly, the DJs post lyric videos to accompany their new singles, ensuring that their fans can easily learn all of the words to their new songs.
The Chainsmokers listen to their fans, and continue to give them what they want. They also understand their audience well enough to know the ways in which they consume their music, down to the day of the week.
3. Look for ways to further monetize your brand.
In the last two years or so, there has been a significant merch trend in the hip-hop world. Some of the genre’s biggest artists, like Kanye West, Drake, and Chance The Rapper have all released their own lines of clothing—from hats to sweatshirts to T-shirts. Such items have become fashion staples in the wardrobes of many millennials. .
Saint Pablo Tour Merchandise from Kanye West. Credit: highsnobiety.com
To sell their clothing, many of the artists create unique pop-up shop experiences for their fans, making spending $45 on a baseball cap well worth it. To sell his Saint Pablo tour merch, Kanye West opened up pop-ups throughout the country, with each store looking almost like a Kanye West-themed museum exhibit.
Marketers: Look for ways to make some ancillary revenue off of your brand. If you have a strong brand that resonates well with a certain audience, use that to your advantage. Come up with some cool branded products that your audience will enjoy and start selling.
4. Take risks and break the status quo.
Young Thug, a 23-year-old rapper from Atlanta, has quickly risen to fame in the last year. Recently, he released the music video for his single, “Wyclef Jean.” It was one of the most creative music videos I’ve seen in recent memory. Produced by the Brooklyn-based company, Pomp&Clout, it takes viewers through the hilarious behind-the-scenes of how the video was made, all without ever actually featuring the artist.
Despite Young Thug supposedly coming up with his own concept, the rapper never showed up to his own music video shoot. Using this as the narrative arc, director Ryan Staake was able to take a risk and just go with it. He turned the absence of a prima donna rapper from his own music video into an introspective and successful short film, garnering close to 16 million views on YouTube along the way.
At the end of the day, Young Thug broke the status quo for music videos of the genre. The same goes for marketing; go for that out-of-the-box marketing campaign. You never know, it could just propel your brand forward.