Response To The Power of Twitter

by Moe Arora on January 14, 2009

Young Money President, Mack Maine

I’d like to address some of the questions and comments raised regarding my Twitter Exclusive Experiment, where I premiered “Throw It Back” from Mack Maine ft. Lil Wayne on Twitter.

I know it’s been over a month, but hey – it was the holidays.

Better late than never :)


The Use Of Lil Wayne’s Name
While most people realized that I simply put Wayne’s name first, there were still a few people who thought it was misleading.

To make it clear, I never stated the song was “Lil Wayne featuring Mack Maine”, nor did I state it was a Lil Wayne song – I wrote Lil Wayne Exclusive.

Granted, some people may not see a difference between “song” and “exclusive”, there is a difference; especially in the mixtape scene.

Countless of emerging artists have used the ploy of stating that their song features a major artist such as Jay-Z or Akon, when it fact it’s simply a verse they’ve taken from a previous recording and placed it on their own mixtape song. When a mixtape uses the term “exclusive”, it’s simply to clarify that their music features original content from the artist they have featured. My use of the term “exclusive” was doing the same. It was simply stating that this song features original content from one of the leading artists on the planet right now, Lil Wayne.

This is common terminology amongst the hip-hop community, especially when discussing mixtapes and “street singles”. In retrospect, I realize that not everyone uses, or understands, “music slang”. I could have more carefully worded it for the sensitive types, who overreact to everything online :)

Regardless, it wasn’t done intentionally. That’s it.

Getting 14,000 Downloads Without The Appeal Of A Major Artist
A lot of people made the same comment over and over, “your experiment only worked so well because of Lil Wayne’s name. You can’t do that with an unknown artist”.

And they’re right.

I wholeheartedly agree that the number of downloads would be far less significant if it weren’t for the association of Lil Wayne.

That’s why I used this particular song to try this experiment out with; it had the right appeal.

I didn’t do this from an independent artist’s standpoint; I did this from a marketing standpoint.

I wanted to test out the viral nature of Twitter to promote music.

My angle was more of a test to compare Twitter/social media exclusives compared to the impact of sending exclusives directly to major online outlets via email blasts & the like.

I’ve been testing out different variables with blog promo and online marketing in the past year, so this time I wanted to see how effective it would be to offer something directly to everybody at the same time. This way the excitement of having first listen of an exclusive was as intense for eager music fans and online tastemakers as it was for bloggers who rushed to be the first to post it & send out their email blasts.

To test something of this nature, I can’t use a no-name artist with no appeal. I needed an artist with a strong enough fanbase to at least test the waters.

Luckily, I had a song from that featured one of the biggest artist’s in the industry.

I see it as “testing the waters” to new ideas of using social media for music marketing.

There are so many “Music 2.0 gurus”, however in my humble opinion, the digital landscape evolves far too quickly to really become a guru or expert at it (and most of those who do spend enough time becoming an expert at one of these sites, are often focusing on a site and/or tool that has already passed its prime).

My main motif is to just experiment with new ideas and use all these pieces to build new and innovative marketing strategies. For major and independent artists.

Free Downloads Are Great But How Do You Monetize From It?
This was a mixtape song. The concept of mixtapes are not as familiar outside of the urban genre, however to sum it up quickly for those not in the know; it’s a promotional tool.

Mixtapes are used as a free (mostly) promotional tool to raise awareness of an artist (or DJ, producer, collective, etc), therefore developing a bigger fanbase and higher anticipation for any future releases, tours, merchandise or other revenue streams the artist may be anticipating.

Rather than relying solely on well scripted bios. press releases & storylines to build awareness for an artist (a.k.a “buzz”), hip-hop artists will often promote their music with music.

Genius, ain’t it?

So regarding how you monetize a mixtape song, it’s the same as asking how to monetize a music video that you can viewed for free or how to monetize free promo swag that’s passed around.

I didn’t create the concept; I just use it when needed.

Can This Be Done On Other Social Networks/How Many Followers Do You Need For It To Work?
Yes, I definitely believe this can be achieved on other social networks; whether it be an existing social network or one that we’ve yet to all flock to.

Also, you don’t need 10,000 followers for this to work (Twitter refers to people who add you to their network as “followers”).

At the time of this experiment, I only had about 600 followers on Twitter. I know some people with almost 10,000 followers but they wouldn’t have been able to pull this off.

Why?

Because the quality of your network is far more important than the quantity in your network.

There are social network spammers who get trigger happy with the Follow button, in hopes that the more people they follow, the more people will follow them.

But follower numbers don’t necessarily equate to a good network.

All these “network spammers” do is create mass followers and then use their account for relentless promotion. Their followers (myself included) have learned to just glance past their tweets or even unfollow them.

I’m by no means a “social media professional” or anything of the like, but it’s not that difficult to figure out that people don’t like to be spammed.

In my humble opinion, one of the keys to social networking is right there in the name of it: you have to be social and you have to develop a real network.

Why does that concept seem so hard to grasp for some?

I’ve introduced several artists to Twitter and in all honesty, only a handful of them are approaching it with the right mindframe. The rest only post promotional messages and then complain to me that they only have 40 followers and haven’t seen the benefit of being there.

If you’re an artist, of course you’re going to want people to know about your music, but don’t forget that it’s still a SOCIAL network.

If your name isn’t Jay-Z, people will need a good reason to pay attention to you. So don’t just spam them, talk with them.

Talk to people and interact. If people care, they’ll find out more about you and might actually respond when you do post a promotional message.

That’s what I did. I interact with my network, I engage in conversation with them often, and now we’re seeing the results of how they supported me when I decided to promote something.

14,000 Downloads Isn’t That Much
Okay. To some people it might not be that much.

But think about this; I posted a message on Twitter telling my network that I had a Lil Wayne exclusive, another message saying that I wanted to try an experiment, and then at 11pm on a Friday night when the majority of young, hip-hop fans are out with friends, I posted one last message with a link to the song.

Those few tweets resulted in over a dozen retweets in the span of ten minutes which resulted in over a dozen popular websites & blogs posting the song – which finally resulted in thousands of downloads.

No major push.

No month long build-up.

Just a couple tweets.

It might not be the biggest download total you’ve ever seen, but 14,000 downloads in 48 hours, for an upcoming artist, based on those few tweets on a Friday night isn’t too bad.

And remember – this was just an experiment I decided to do at the last minute.

At least I’m trying new things. That what matters, isn’t it?

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