Last time on The Ten Laws of Indie Success…
…We covered The Law of Indie Success #1 Supply & Demand. We looked at how N.W.A understood audience demands by tapping into the social issues of the day. We saw how they expressed their views for an audience ready to hear their message and looked at how they made themselves different from other acts with a provocative group name and song titles. They delivered their unique brand with a uniformed ‘gangsta’ image to make their lyrical content really resonate with a youth audience.
This week we follow how Wiz Khalifa invested in his craft early on to reap huge payoffs later in his career.
Law of Indie Success #2: Invest In Yourself
To succeed in the music industry you must invest money as well as time. You must invest in lessons, coaches, and tools such as instruments and equipment. If you do not invest in yourself you will be unable to compete with artists who do. As with any business you must first identify the areas in which you are likely to generate an income – selling your music, live gigs, and merchandise etc. When you are clear on your sales strategy you will make wise choices based on how you will make a return on your investment.
Invest in your wellbeing by nurturing your mind and body. Hard work works the hardest for you when balanced with rest and recreation. Having outside interests by learning something new and staying in touch with popular culture and current affairs will make your work much more appealing to others. The hobbies and interests you have away from your work will make your work fulfilling and unique, enabling you to bring something new to the table. The financial and emotional investments you make in yourself will help you to develop a skill-set that can be transferred beyond what you are currently doing. This will later manifest in the form brand extensions, brand partnerships, and future businesses and opportunities.
How willing are you to invest in yourself?
“The more that you do for yourself, the better.” ~ Wiz Khalifa
When Wiz Khalifa was 16 years old his dad bought him equipment to record his music after seeing how serious he was about rapping. Wiz Khalifa soon learnt how to engineer. He would go to the studio every day after school, staying there until 2-3am. By the time he graduated from school aged 18, he signed a recording deal with Warner Bros.
How much do you believe in what you are doing?
It’s all very well looking and sounding great, but have you taken the time to identify exactly where you will be most appreciated in the marketplace? Take the time to understand current trends in music and popular culture, specifically within your genre and become the voice of a group of people who think and feel the same as you. Being artistically as good as the leading act in your genre is also great, but have you taken the time to perfect your identity and unique qualities so you can really stand out in the crowd?
Many creative people are extremely smart in trading skills in return for free promotion. However, when it comes to spending money there has been a long debate in business around whether it is wiser to use your own hard earned cash when starting a new venture or whether it is best to use other people’s money. When you’re planning to approach investors/record labels, both private and commercial, what you have practiced up until that point becomes your pitch. Think Dragon’s Den – it is important to have stats that make a good argument for why they should invest in you. These stats will include online listens and views, and your social media following. You will also need to be clear on the exact sum required to generate the turnover necessary to cover all of your costs and to make a profit for your own income. This may include things like music videos, venue hire, and studio time, keeping all costs (not quality) as low as possible. Your pitch must be logical and look presentable. A well-prepared professional proposal will make a good impression on any potential investor.
Are you pitching an attractive offer?
After Wiz Khalifa’s first record deal came to an end due to creative differences, he took the indie route for a year and began freestyling on YouTube and sharing his freestyles with fans on social media. He prepared fans two days in advance for the release of his free online mixtape, ‘Kush & Orange Juice’. Following its release, the mixtape shut down the internet and became the No. 1 search and trending topic on Google and Twitter.
Because of artists like Wiz Khalifa using an online model to market his music, online marketing has now become the standard marketing model for record labels and corporations to follow. This has transformed the role of traditional platforms such as radio and television, meaning that they now tend to receive new music last. Online and social media platforms cut out the middle man giving independent artists the ability to go direct to an audience.
Are you using the resources available to you to reach your audience?
“When I find that the other ways I express myself are as interesting as my music it opens up doors and makes things more interesting for me.”
Wiz Khalifa has created an irresistible brand which has led to the release of his own line of hats with Flat Fitty, a fashion line with Eleven Paris in Europe. His love for classic Chuck Taylor shoes has seen him team up with Converse for the “Chuck Taylor All Star Wiz Khalifa Collection,” which features fashion forward styles inspired by the rapper.
In June 2014, the two time Grammy nominated rapper created a brand partnership with raw® rolling papers for a new line of smoking accessories. In August of the same year Wiz Khalifa earned his first No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 with his Rolling Papers album. July 2015 saw him equal the record for the longest-running rap number one hit on the billboard charts with, ‘See You Again’.
Make wise investments in your music career
Book a 30 minute consultation to plan a strategy for your music brand. Find out how to…
Invest in your craft
Harness your self-belief
Create an irresistible brand
Next time on The Ten Laws of Indie Success… The Law of Indie Success #3 Take Risks