What GaryVee Can Teach Musicians.
To a small nation's worth of young entrepreneurs, Gary Vaynerchuk is a hero. For the uninitiated, it's probably easiest to say that Gary Vaynerchuk is a marketing genius. The long story is that he's used cutting edge marketing strategies to build several multi-million dollar companies. He's an investor in Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook. Nowadays, you can often find GaryVee, as he's known, doing keynote speeches or on his YouTube channel.
I first found GaryVee through his most recent book, #AskGaryVee, which is essentially a transcription of his popular YouTube show of the same name. At the time, I was stagnant with music and not giving much attention to it. I was focusing much more on the business side, and developing my career as a writer. Where Music Theory for Dummies helped me kick start my music production, #AskGaryVee helped me get into business. Watching and reading GaryVee content might as well earn you an MBA.
When I inevitably returned to music, I had seen every AskGaryVee. Gary doesn't often speak on the music industry, he doesn't know enough about it to say much. However, while I was watching every Ask GaryVee, I was reading up on that, too. So the question at hand is: what can GaryVee tell us about the music industry?
This is easily the most important lesson to be learned from GaryVee. Many musicians, especially in hip hop, already know about hustle.
What many could stand to learn, though, is that hustling in the music industry is different than just making a lot of music. If you're doing your own management, it's very important to be hustling on the business side, as well. You should be out as much as possible posting on social media, reaching out to other musicians, etcetera. Building a fan base is rarely as easy as building it and letting them come. You have to search out and find fans.
Shake Babies and Kiss Hands.
Wait. I mean shake hands and kiss babies. Whatever.
Originally, I was going to call this "Social Media," but I then realized that there could be a whole post to itself about using social media as a musician, so we'll return to that later.
Here we need to discuss one of GaryVee's mantras and another of his books. The mantra is "Scale the unscalable." The book is "The Thank You Economy."
"The Thank You Economy" is the idea that saying "thank you" drives sales. It's important to treat your fans like friends. "Scaling the unscalable" comes into play here because of one of the ways Gary most often implies it.
For a man with almost 2 million Twitter followers, Gary can often be found replying to people. Maybe not everyone at this point, but as many as he can get to. Whether through Twitter, Instagram, or Snapchat, Gary is more than happy to give people a small chunk of his time. Often times in his vlogs, you can find him stopped on the street and happy to take a picture.
Not everyone can be that extroverted, but you're fighting an uphill battle if you don't at least try. Fans love when artists talk to them. It makes them feel special. Look at Chance the Rapper. The best rapper/entrepreneur of the modern age, Chance is more than happy to just talk to his fans for a little while.
Know who made you.
Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook.
Another of Gary's four books is "Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook."
You can see Chance applying principles from this book throughout his career as well. Chancellor is renowned for his "free albums." #10Day, Acid Rap and Coloring Book are some of the greatest albums of the past decade... and they're all available for free on SoundCloud. From outside, it doesn't seem like a sustainable business model. How can an artist make money off of something free?
The real answer is, whether something is free or not, no artist is making money off of the music they make right now. With internet piracy being as rampant as it is, all music is basically free. Streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal eliminate some of this, but the royalties to be made still aren't the best. It would take you millions and millions of streams a month for it to become liveable.
You may have seen the merch section of chanceraps.com though. Right now, roughly a tenth of Chance's sixty four merch items are sold out. This is the lowest number of sold out items I've ever seen on the store. Chance has been providing fans with so much great and free music (jabs) that the fans are more than happy to buy every tour ticket and t-shirt (right hooks) when they drop.
Document, Don't Create.
I can't possibly explain this better than the man himself, so here's a piece of what Gary has to say on the subject:
In very simple terms, “documenting” versus “creating” is what The Real World and the Kardashians is to Star Wars and Friends. And don’t get confused — just because you’re “documenting” doesn’t mean you’re not creating content. It’s just a version of creating that is predicated more on practicality instead of having to think of stories or fantasy — something that’s very hard for most people (including myself).
What this means for you is that the content, the social media posts, your using to promote your music shouldn't be fake. In 2017, people appreciate honesty. Actually, I believe they always have.
As anecdotal evidence, when I was a kid and DVDs were still a thing, I would watch and re-watch the audio commentary for movies. I've only seen The Lord Of The Rings movies through a couple of times, but I could recite any of the various documentaries made about them by heart. People love to watch things get made. They love the process. The process is the humanity behind the art. People fall in love with humans.
Tell your story. Wherever your starting from right now, is only step one in getting where you're going to go. People want to see every step along the way. Show your growth. Show your highs. Show your lies. Don't show bullshit. What I'm showing you right now is bullshit. I might be completely fucking wrong. But this is my blog, and I'm allowed to be. If you follow this blog in the future, you'll start to see a lot more documenting in the future.
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