Part One – The Review
I first met Chris Classic on set of the Tiarra Monet’s Diamond video while working as an assistant to photographer/videographer Glen Graham. It was uber late and we were shooting some indoor shots and Chris walked in with a friend, shook our hands and went about his business. His business is MUSIC.
Months later, I came across his tumblr page and was intrigued. I knew he made music for movies and tv shows but I liked the person behind the artist. He’s a father….a good one and respects and exhaults his ex wife. He’s provocative and sexy in his post about dating, relationships and sex. He’s a great photographer and an extremely emotive writer. He appears to be one of those tortured artist that’s also a profound genius. I look forward to the day when he’s less tortured and fully steps into his light.
Soon after coming across his tumblr profile, I found him on instagram and of all the accounts I follow, his is the most entertaining, thought provoking and inspirational. Look up hashtags like #classiclifenyc, #eatwithclassic, and his short film series #classicfifteens. If you search hard enough you’ll find his fictional dating dramedy with “Bey.” He knows how to do instagram!
It was via instagram that I found out he was finally working on his own music project after a hiatus. He writes for a lot of other people but he was ready to produce his own project….in FIVE business days titled… Five Business Days.
The album has 7 songs. Fashion, Black Bette & SomeKindaWay will speak to your every day urbanista. (It will speak to men too but my audience is mostly women.) Coca Cola is a good song and validates the sorrows of every dark skin girl that needs a theme song to affirm her beauty. (I sound sarcastic but as mentioned, it is a good song.) What makes the album for me are both the songs Victory and Made.
I listen to music for 3 primary reasons.
- As an average consumer, I simply like listening to music throughout my day, every day…practically all the time.
- As a writer and videographer, I’m constantly listening to music to help inspire new projects or possibly to license for clients. Do you know how much time I spend on TripleScoop, The MusicBed and other similar sites?
- As a sensual movement and pole dancer, I always need music for dance class, freestyle sessions and upcoming performances. I always ask myself, “Would I dance to this song? How does it make me feel?”
Part Two – The Critique & Unsolicited Advice
Chris’s marketing plan for his alternative hip hop and rap album seems to be primarily, instagram. It appears his hope is that of his 8,000+ followers they will spread the word to hip hop bloggers and music bloggers who will then write about his music. This is his public marketing plan that I can see. He could have very well sent out an email blast, wrote a few blog associations and hired a PR team. What I can see is instagram.
I’ve come across quotes like, “But for the other 7000 of you that follow me and DIDNT download #fivebusinessdaysmixtape … Cmon man. It’ll take a few secs from your computer.” as well as “I definitely know there are people who follow me who could get my project featured on major hip hop blogs. Who could get me appointed as brand ambassadors to cool brands. Who could make sure I attended certain events or be highlighted in a way that will help tremendously. Most shit by one simple email. Yet, they dont choose to and i have to respect that….. And i mean, i dont know if theyre expecting me to slide something in their hand like a club bouncer but if thats the case, speak up, give a nicca a nod or somethin. I understand nothings free. Just please dont assume im “good”. I can use all the support and looks that I can get. Thanks.”
Chris and to other artist hoping to promote their projects….here are a few things to note.
1. Where is your home page?
Chris used to have a website and yes he has an active IMDB page. But he USED to have a website. I maintain that any artist no matter how many followers they have on any social media platform, should at the least have a dynamic yet simple website as their online portfolio. Check out this post titled Best Band Websites. (And please note that diary entry post on tumblr are of a different calibar than an artist’s actual updated and active online portfolio.) This very thing annoys me about all the photographers on instagram who write in their bio, “Photographer. Book me. Email me for inquires and rates.” and yet they don’t even have a website. I truly am baffled by this phenomenon.
2. Have you googled yourself lately?
Chris is profound. He is a genius. He’s attractive as fuck. His work has garnered him an AMA and he was featured in Black Enterprise as one of the Black Musicians Behind the Grammy’s. (His interview is awesome.) AND YET…when I googled, “Chris Classic, Music” guess what came up?
- His Reverbnation website which currently showcases his old music.
- His Youtube page which shows that the last update was 11 months ago.
- And then his BandCamp page which shows the newest album.
3. Get Creative with Your Target Market!
It appears Chris is appealing to the hip hop bloggers and music bloggers by proxy through his instagram followers. That makes sense but that’s only a piece of the puzzle. As artist we need to market on the periphery of our target market group. Think about the average person engaging with your instagram feed and the hip hop or music blogs. Along with possibly reading hip hop blogs, where else are they? For songs like Fashion, Black Bette, Coca Cola and more…why hasn’t he appealed to fashion bloggers, beauty bloggers and lifestyle bloggers? The same women who happen to read The Grio…what other websites are they reading. She’s probably reading Curly Nikki too. Or take me for example, I’m a pole dancer. We are our own marketable group constantly looking for music to dance too. Youtube and google “pole dance” or “pole fitness” or “pole artist.” We have videos with millions of views, instapics with hundreds of likes and facebook pages with a shit ton of followers and WE LOVE MUSIC. Our industry couldn’t exist without music. Have you reached out to us or has your team done it? (This isn’t written directly to Chris but to artist in general.)
4. “If you want me to buy your sh!t, you need to get me to buy INTO your sh!t.”
That’s a quote from “Marketing for Artist.” <– Click that and read that. It’s short and to the point. I wrote that piece after seeing one artist try to get Danny Simmons to validate his crowdsourcing project at Working On It.
5. “SUBSCRIBERS” do not equate “PAYING CUSTOMERS”
I see a lot of people with HUGE social media followings. They put up a video on youtube and within a week they have 100,000 views. BUT once they go to sell their new product, they can barely make 20 sales. Or someone has a newsletter subscriber list of 5,000 people but they go to sell their book and 20 people buy it. Or they have 200,000 facebook fans and the average post yields maybe 100 likes. This is because “likes” and “subscribers” does not actually = customers and buyers. It is so easy to build numbers…that are made up of passive people who will immediately “like” your latest image or video. But it takes a different approach to build a community that would buy ice from you in Antartica who are smart but they believe in you that much. PRETTY PLEASE go read, “Customer Engagement.”
Chris has created a lifestyle brand thats urban and hip. That eats at dynamic and cool spots. Shows up at great events, clubs, and lounges. It’s a sexy, provocative and fun, hip brand. Instagram followers will only take you so far. Why not host a dynamic event? Now a music listening party but something that speaks more to the spirit of your brand? You know these women are dying to just be in the same room as you. Use that energy.
6. Gatekeeper Tips
A. Call Glen Graham and have him shoot videos for your songs. ( <– That’s a link to his work. )
B. Respond to bloggers & writers who have requested to interview you. ( I did ask to interview Chris a few months back but he was in a different place in his life and said maybe some time in the future. Now would probably be the time to re-respond to my email.
C. In addition to bloggers, reach out to vloggers too!
D. While I personally love how emotive you are and transparent you are, tone down the “tortured” soul just a bit because brands do not respond to that. I’m not saying don’t be yourself. Please be yourself but be intentional. Having worked with Verizon Wireless, Iman Cosmetics, Pantene, Bodybinds Lingerie and more….yes they want our raw authentic passion….but they also want a strong dynamic type. I don’t remember the last time they hired a “whoa is me?” type. (Chris isn’t this but I see it from a lot of artists.) Gatekeepers are turned off by “starving artist”.
In “Marketing for Artist” I wrote, “If you’re consistently a “starving artist”, what you have is a metaphorical eating disorder and the hell, if I’m going to invest into an unhealthy situation. When “pitching” or conversing with me, layoff the guilt trips. Why are you asking for $50 for 10 portrait head shots? Why are you selling your book for $1 and lamenting about it. I can’t stand hearing, “You know man, every day I’m hustling. Gotta to do what I gotta do. You know how hard it is out here. Just trying to make a dollar.” What the fuck? That reads as desperate and needy. No, I’m not going to buy your product or service and I most definitely do not believe in you.”
Five Business Days is a really cool and good album by Chris Classic. He knows music. The lyrics actually say something. The sounds make you want to dance. And the artist himself…well, you always want more from him. I recommend that you take a listen.
And to the artists with projects, releases and new content to share, I recommend that we do more. Want more advice, help developing a market plan or access to my network that I’ve spent YEARS building relationships with, book me for a business consulting session. It’s what I do best. Or you can also check out my other FREE post on business RIGHT HERE! Oh also, an extra tip. Google “launching a product”…and see what post and ideas speak to your marketing plan.
Ask yourself: What makes me different? Am I really better or am I just hoping to be an alternative to someone I’m not so fond of personality wise?
Your soul is [invaluable] … but this business has lots … and lots of money. Become priceless.