For anybody that knows me or follows me should probably know that I have been heavily inspired by Rick Ross and the energy that he had when he started his Maybach Music label (the newer version with Meek Mill and Wale, not the original version with Triple C’s). The way they came onto the scene and pretty much took over with putting out content was very impressive to me. Another label that I have learned a lot from over the years was Tech N9ne and his Strange Music label. Even though they don’t have a crazy mainstream presence, they have pretty much been the kings of the underground for the past 15 -20 years. They were able to do that by eliminating the middle man from a lot of things that they do, killing the merch game, and they tour like no other label.
There are a lot of things that drew me into both of these labels but the business lessons that I have taken with me that I learned specifically from these two labels has been something that I have carried with me during my journey as an entrepreneur. These are a few of those lessons.
Do It Your Damn Self. From just watching these two labels over the years and seeing the moves that they have made, one thing is very apparent. They are both self-made. Strange Music’s mentality is all about cutting out of the middle man and from all of their business endeavors and instead of paying a company to do their merch or renting out a studio or hiring an outside video production company. They did it all themselves. They now have one of the largest music compounds in the industry, a large warehouse for all of their merchandise as well as their own trucks for touring. As far as Maybach Music, even though they had a label deal they didn’t wait on the machine to help them with anything. They were focused on creating their own content from an in house team instead of waiting for Atlantic or Warner to open up their marketing budget. That allowed them to be in control of how hot they are. As simple as it sounds, this has taught me to not to wait on any handouts and really just do everything your damn self.
Take Advantage of Being Hot. Speaking of being in control of how hot you are, this was something that really stood out to me. When you realize that you are hot and that door of opportunity opens up, you have to take full advantage of that. When Rick Ross was building his buzz, he released a great Rich Forever mixtape (check it out if you haven’t already), and then followed that up with one of his biggest singles, BMF. Then while the momentum was still high he retooled his Maybach Music label with some slept on free agents. Instead of sitting on them for months, it seemed like he put them to work from day one. Dropping songs, putting out visuals, doing features, doing vlogs and everything else in between. That allowed his team to be looked at as legitimate right out the gate. This has taught me to build up your momentum and once people start talking about you, continue to give them something to talk about.
Do It On A Large Scale Independently. Back 10-15 years ago, the word independent left a lot of people with a sour taste in their mouth because they thought to be independent means you would be a struggling artist. Most people wanted to sign to a major label and make a whole bunch of money. Not only did Tech N9ne change the perception of that but he totally smashed that box by being on the Forbes list multiple years and being one of the highest paid musicians in the industry. To do that though, he couldn’t just be a regular independent artist, he had to be an independent juggernaut. Like I said before if there was a place that he and his team could do something themselves they did. They had killer merchandise, from tees to foam fingers to women’s panties and everything else in between. They released music at a rapid rate with multiple projects dropping from their label in a year. And let’s not even discuss their touring. They tour as a group at least 300 dates a year. That is a lot of shows. This has taught me that you should always be investing in you and your company. Whatever money you make, put that back into your marketing, promotional materials, presentation, etc.
Control Your Narrative By Creating Your Own Content. Back around 2010 when creating your own content wasn’t a big thing, Rick Ross and his team took it upon themselves to not only be in charge of their own music videos but they would also put out vlogs that highlighted them in the studio or them speaking about their latest moves. In the business world, most companies will wait until a larger publication will reach out to them to tell their story, but now you can let people know exactly what you want them to know and not have to worry about it being taken the wrong way, things being edited out or things just being spun in a negative fashion. You can do that all by creating your own content. I strive to make sure my companies create their own content. We never wait for a podcast invite, or a speaking engagement to let people know what we are up to.
After writing this piece it has me thinking that I really need to do more of these things. These are really the keys to success when it comes to building a business in general. It is now just time to get to work.