What Can Cardi B, MF DOOM & Fortnite Teach Us About Music Marketing?

After a 20 year decline in music sales, the music industry is back with a bang!

Experiencing double digit growth in early 2018, mainly due to advancements in technology which have increased the monetization options on the table for artists and labels.

In 2018, more music is being created and consumed than ever before, more artists are touring than in any point in human history and the number of co-branded collaborations between musicians and brands is at an all time high.

In our previous article, we covered how in the past, distribution in the music industry was under the control of record labels and gatekeepers.

This created a narrow path for artists looking for musical success, who would have to hold out in the hope that some label would throw money behind them and sponsor their upcoming release/tour.

Fast forward to 2018, and the picture remains starkly different due to the rise of digital music, online streaming services and social media outlets that allow artists and music producers to bypass traditional record labels entirely.

TEGAN & SARA — LEGO MOVIE

In terms of a collaborative effort, brands have been known over the last few years to be directly attributable to the success of many artists, who managed their first big break through a sponsorship or brand partnership deal.

Notable mentions of artists that have been pushed into the limelight via collaboration with large brands include Canadian twins, Tegan & Sara who recorded the soundtrack everything is awesome for the Lego Movie.

To date the song has over 57 million views, despite the fact that Tegan & Sara’s official YouTube channel has less than 500k followers.

Although the group was originally quite popular with other Canadians, the leverage provided by collaborating with Lego empowered the band to reach a significantly larger audience.

This new leverage would have certainly increased Tegan & Sara’s overall clout, improving their negotiating position in future licensing agreements.

It goes to show, there can be a lot of potential in brand sponsorship for bands who are willing to work with music licensors. Through just one deal, a relatively unknown Canadian band can grow overnight to a global success.

Going forward we expect to see more brands taking a collaborative approach with artists and musicians.

In fact one major label, Universal Music Group, has already made a firm commitment to bringing more “powerful marketing and advertising opportunities for brands… in order to seek more authentic engagement with millennial audiences”.

MF DOOM AND ADULT SWIM’S “THE MISSING NOTEBOOK”

In late 2017, MF DOOM and Adult Swim entered an exclusive partnership to release 15 tracks weekly from the elusive MC.

Titled “The Missing Notebook Rhymes”, the project contained a range of tracks including features from The Alchemist, Sean Price and Jay Electronica.

The mixtape was released to critical success, and was called “an exciting project” by The Fader. However, in an abrupt and typically villainous turn of events, DOOM prematurely ended his relationship with Adult Swim halfway through the project.

A statement from Adult Swim goes on to say that “Adult Swim is ending our relationship with DOOM, and thus, the remaining Missing Notebook Rhymes will unfortunately have to remain…missing.”

A peculiar end to a popular series that so many fans had been enjoying. But could there be more than what appears on the surface to this story?

Nevertheless over the years, there has been a lot of talk of DOOMs mysterious and sometimes chaotic behaviour. Leaving fans only to speculate and wonder if ending the relationship early with Adult Swim was all part of an intricate and calculated publicity stunt designed to draw attention to the project.

Popular music blogs such as Mass Appeal, Pitchfork and Anthony Fantano have also gone on to suggest also that there could be more to Adult Swim discontinuing the series.

Considering that the project is called “The Missing Notebook”, it’s not hard to imagine that Daniel Dumile is up to his villainous tricks again, trying to capture our imagination with his dastardly marketing moves.

The 404 Error Page Fans Were Greeted With Once DOOM’s Album Was Pulled

DEATH GRIPS — LEAK YOUR OWN PROJECT

Genre absconders the Death Grips have developed a reputation as pioneers of independent recording as well as shameless self-promoters.

Whilst their contemporaries may struggle with new routes to monetization, the Death Grips are more concerned with capturing the imagination and the attention of their audience.

In 2012, following a dispute with label Epic, Death Grips went behind the labels back and decided to leak an upcoming project (NO LOVE DEEP WEB) using P2P streaming.

This move created a huge surge of popularity for the group as well as capturing the attention of the mainstream media, all the while saving the projects entire marketing and advertising budget (albeit at the cost of a serious reduction in sales).

After strong conversations that lead to the band being dropped by their label, Death Grips once again made the decision to chase clout over monetization with their next project, Government Plates, which was released again for free.

Since being dropped by Epic, the band has gone on to see success through self publishing, and in an interesting turn of events plan to drop their new project The Year of the Snitch in late 2018.

Correspondence between Epic Label and Death Grips regarding the album leaking situation

BOOGZ FORTNITE (TILTED TOWERS) — LEVERAGE VIDEOGAME SUCCESS

Popular Battle Royale videogame Fortnite is massively viral right now with over 3.4 million concurrent players reported by the developer, Epic Games, earlier this year in February.

In addition to that, at any given moment Fortnite has well over 50,000 viewers on videogame streaming platform, Twitch.tv.

With all the buzz surrounding Fortnite, musical artist Boogz created and published a rap about the game called Fortnite (Tilted Towers). Since publication on the likes of YouTube, and at the time of writing, the video has over 190,000 views.

What’s more, the song has been featured at the #1 spot on the Spotify UK Viral 50 playlist. Needless to say, leveraging the popularity of Fortnite was an exceptional marketing move that could very well lead to more mainstream success in the future for Boogz.

This tactic of utilising the popularity of a videogame to create viral success in the form of a song is not a new tactic however. Minecraft, for instance, has many examples of the strategy being deployed. Most notably, the Revenge Original Minecraft Music Video by popular Youtuber, Captain Sparkles which has received over 170m views to date.

CARDI B — CAPITALISE ON SOCIAL MEDIA STARDOM

Cardi B initially attracted attention on Instagram back in 2016 by being highly outspoken on her past as a member of the infamous Bloods gang, as well as speaking openly on her career as a stripper.

As a result of Cardi B’s now established social media presence, she went on to secure a spot on the popular reality TV show, Love & Hip Hop: New York, which provided further exposure for the artist.

In one of the scenes, she conveyed a line that would prove to become among the show’s most famous: “A girl have beef with me, she gonna have beef with me,” … “Forever.”.

This new form of televised exposure helped to further extend Cardi B’s social media presence. It was with said presence, that she managed to achieve what many would call the impossible.

Cardi B achieved a breakout smash hit with her song, Bodak Yellow which reached the #1 spot on the US charts. There’s more to the song than what meets the eyes, however.

In Bodak Yellow, the young rapper shows homage to rapper Kodak Black, who inspired Cardi’s performance in his release “No Flockin” which was the original inspiration for the flow and cadence used throughout “Bodak Yellow”.

Upon its Initial release, some fans were quick to point out that Cardi’s song was heavily influenced by Kodak. However, considering that both artists are signed to Universal Records, it’s not hard to imagine that this was an initial attempt at co-branding the artist.

Cardi B’s story of success isn’t attributable to a single maneuver, nor will it be easily replicated. Many event had to occur in a particular order and timeframe for her stardom to have been realised in such a dramatic and lighting-fast way.

Following the success of Bodak Yellow, Cardi B has gone on to grow her audience to over 20M followers and has also become the second female rapper to ever secure the number 1 chart spot.

It’s undoubtable that the songs sound strikingly similar but is Bodak Yellow simply too similar to No Flockin’? or is Cardi’s work an innovative and well-thought out homage to the Florida born rapper?

I guess it’s up to you to decide.


Originally published at Trendjackers.