The music industry is dominated by flashy personalities. For those of you that have forgotten, Justin Bieber makes news for being a constant hooligan, Kanye West claimed to be a god, and Lady Gaga wears stuff like this
Yikes. Some artists have taken the “sell when everyone else is buying” approach and found a niche of normalcy without compromising their music. J Cole is one musician in particular who sticks out. He keeps a fairly low profile (chances are most of you haven’t heard of him) and does not come out with music at the rate of rappers like Gucci Mane. (Fun side note: Since 2005, Gucci Mane has released a mind boggling 87 albums, mixtapes, and EPs, a fact that is even more incredible because he spent 3 of those years in prison. It would take over 3 months of not stop listening to listen to all of his music once). Nonetheless, when J Cole’s album dropped, his first in two years, its ten songs were all among the top 11 most played songs in the US on Spotify. Instead of being erratic in public appearances, J Cole has quietly built a loyal following by doing things like turning his childhood home into a transition home for struggling families and attending a fans graduation (and offering to help her with tuition). While he obviously does not do these charitable things to “be an entrepreneur,” J Cole has found a unique value proposition: a genuine rapper who is still committed to musical artistry. And people are buying.
Very few people in the public eye have been as hated as musician Kanye West. From his spontaneous outbursts to his infamous “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” rant on live television, the man has brought about so much hate and outrage directed his way. Whether or not that hatred is deserved is topic for another discussion, however his talent as a musician cannot be denied. Writing about an artist seems an odd choice for this assignment, but I believe that West’s approach to constantly innovating and pushing the boundaries of his genre and the style of his music, makes him an entrepreneur of a rare kind.
In particular, the album 808’s and Heartbreak showcased a sonic innovator who took the risk of trying something new; and resulted in it defining the sound of a generation. 808’s was released in a time when hip-hop as a genre was defined by brash, aggressive music and lyrics that primarily described a “gangster” lifestyle (women, drugs, alcohol…etc.). Following the death of his mother earlier that year, West decided not to be limited by the restraints placed on him by his genre and decided instead to release an album that deviated from the norm of the time; putting heavy emphasis on more somber, melodic instrumentals; lyrics on heartbreak and the loss of a mother’s love and being more vulnerable and personal than anyone in the genre had been before.
His revolutionary approach and the meticulous effort that he poured into crafting the album would define the music of the 2010’s. Some of today’s biggest artists: Drake, Lupe Fiasco, Kid Cudi, Alicia Keys and Chris Brown (to name a few) have credited their success and rise to prominence to the music and the style of 808’s; and his bold approach to thinking creatively outside the box has given artists the freedom to not limit themselves but to think and make more experimental music.
Music is one of the centerpieces of pop-culture today. It’s also a huge part of each of our daily lives. And with our current technology we can music downloaded to our devices with the press of button. But how do we discover music? How can we share our discoveries and favorite songs with other music lovers. Leave that to the Hype Machine. In 2005, Anthony Volodkin created Hype Machine. A music website and community (now with an app), that allows users to post blogs, share music, discuss music, and buy songs and even concert tickets.
Anthony’s vision for Hype Machine was to create a community that brought all music lovers and their thoughts and opinions together. For 2005 this was revolutionary, as many music and artist “reviews” were only featured in select magazines or on radio stations. Anthony set out to make a social platform for music to fix this problem in his eyes , and Hype Machine was a success.
Hype Machine is based in New York City and along with it’s website, it uses Facebook and Twitter as its other platforms. Hype Machine has steadily grown since 2005. Hype machine has gained revenue through ads, linking songs the music retailers, and by partnering with other platforms such as Soundcloud. Anthony Volodkin created the Facebook of the music industry and has bridged the gap between customer, artist, and producer relations. Hype Machine has all of the music hype!
The hip hop industry is constantly changing, new styles and artist are always popping up creating a very competitive and hard market to try and get into. One guy though has found a new market of hip hop that has yet to be saturated. David Burd commonly known as “lil Dicky” has proven successful in his endevors of creating a new type of “fun” hip hop.
Instead of preaching about the commonly written topics of drugs and violence, david has set his career in the music industry by raping about funny ideals such as his jewish heritage and politics. Backed by music with great beats lil Dicky has become increasingly more popular with the youth across America.
Burd grew up in an upper middle class Jewish family in the Elkins Park neighborhood of Cheltenham Township, a township on the north border of Philadelphia. He attended Cheltenham High School and then the University of Richmond. He then relocated to San Francisco, California, where he worked in account management at the advertising agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners. After reimagining his monthly progress report as a rap video, the company brought him to work in their creative department, where he wrote copy for ads like the NBA‘s “BIG” campaign.
Because of his life growing up, Burds style is a reflection of comical lyrics that can easily put a smile and laugh in anypersons day. Burd started off of youtube with his first video getting over 1 million views. since then he has grown and become very successful and recognized across the country. He released his first album on july 31st 2015 and while being backed by his followers on youtube he has started his goal of changing the hiphop industry. Because of his knowledge in marketing and Advertising, Dave realized a new market that no one had entered yet. Since he is the first in comical hiphop he is blazing a new way into the industry and being very successful at it too. I would not be surprised to see more new copies by other rising artist of this style. It will be fun and unique to watch how this specific industry of hip hop continues to grow and change throughout the years.
Twin brothers Jack and Finn Harries have had a relatively distinct presence on Youtubefor several years now. With over 4 million subscribers on their channel titled JacksGap since 2011, it is no wonder that have some level of influence on the Youtube community. However, their normal content is not what I want to talk about. It’s a branch of their channel that they recently formed that has caught my attention. Shed Sessions is a strand of content where they showcase musicians playing acoustic music in their neighbor’s shed. Both loving quality music, Jack and Finn, are striving to expose start-up and small town musicians to a wider audience to benefit both the artists and listeners by giving them new content to listen to. While announcing the new project on their blog, Jack said,
“Music is something that I have always felt passionate about, in particular acoustic music. So it only felt natural to me to share it on our channel… There is something really exciting about being able to share music in such a raw and intimate setting. It is important to us to record Shed Sessions in one shot, with one angle. We want to capture the song in its rawest form.”
JacksGap has featured artists such as JP Cooper, Jeremy Loops, and We Were Evergreen. I myself have enjoyed listening to new artists and experiencing their music in such a natural setting. Jack and Finn recognized that no one with a significant Youtube following was promoting growing, talented musicians and so they took initiative. JacksGap has experienced significant success with Shed Sessions with views per video averaging around 1 million. The JacksGap channel continues to grow and explore new possibilities and it will be exciting to see which new avenues they will take over the next few years.
One rule stands firm in this game, people will buy name brand equipment. I this day and age it is nearly impossible for anyone to make a name for their brand as a guitar builder. The big names, the Fender Stratocaster’s and the Gibson Les Paul’s, those are the brands that people are willing to spend countless amounts of money on. Occasionally the seasoned professional guitarist will spend money on the custom guitar made by some luthier who is known for producing the best equipment. However, a young man by the name of Marc Demers is beginning to change this. At only the tender age of 21 years old, people are beginning to take notice of his talent for making high end guitars.
Demers has decided to name his company K. Normand guitars, and the company is quickly making a name for itself among the public in Canada.
Another different approach to the industry that Demers is taking is in the production of his instruments. All of Demers guitar are handmade by the man himself. He hopes to use these skills in order to make a bold statement among the Canadian guitar builders.
Pentatonix is a group of five a cappella singers that came together to perform on NBC’s “The Sing Off”. The group originated with Kirstie Maldonaldo, Mitch Grassi and Scott Hoying. The three were friends in high school and sang at different local events. The three of them loved “The Sing Off” and wanted to compete in the show,m but in order to try out they needed at least two more people. They found Avi Kaplan, a well known bass singer in the a capella community, and Kevin Olusola, a beat-boxer that had become famous from a youtube video. They all met each other one day before trying out for the show, and they got in. What made the group so special was their ability to reimagine songs and create some amazing sounds only using their voices. When they first appeared on The Sing Off people could hardly believe they were actually signing. With a sound like no other the group won “The Sing Off” and with the title of Sing Off Champions they were also given $200,000 and a recording contract from Sony.
Pentatonix was very successful with their first two albums, but the contract from Sony was only for two albums, a regular album and a christmas album. The group was then on their own. When the record company left them, Pentatonix turned to social media and Youtube. They are now the 13th most subscribed to music channel on youtube beating out Beyonce, Lady Gaga and Avicii. When no recording company would take them, they made music on the Mac application “Garage Band”. They have made millions of dollars and their most recent album, “That’s Christmas to Me”, was No. 2 on the Billboard 200 only being beaten by Taylor Swift’s new album. The group has recently signed a record deal with “RCA Records” and will make albums with them. Their Youtube page continues to do amazingly with over 728 million views.
I have been a big fan of Pentatonix ever since they gave their first performance on “The Sing Off” and I can’t wait to see what they do next.
What if the history of music we know is wrong? What if all of the hits we knew and loved growing up sounded just slightly different? This is the alternative history of pop music that Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox plays.
When Scott Bradlee was young he was thoroughly inspired when he listened to Gerswin’s Rhapsody in Blue. He taught himself how it to play this on the piano, however, he was unsatisfied stopping there. He quickly picked up the steps of 1920’s ragtime music; fast, reckless, and fantastically loud. It captivated him. His comprehension of what made pop music from all ages truly great enabled him to slur together various styles of music, yet, he was still able to contain the core meaning of each song he recomposed. This is the brilliance of the man.
What can an artist do to make a name for himself? Bradlee made the traditional move aspiring artists make. He moved to New York City. Sadly for Bradlee, Jazz pianists, which he was marketing himself as at the time, were everywhere in the Big Apple. Refusing to break from his dream Bradlee made the sensible move and went to Astoria, a far less populated area with cheaper rent. While he was there he started making videos for YouTube. His first hit was a hit was a ragtime themed medley of 1980’s pop music that scored over a million views, and thus began his true career.
With the assembling of Post Modern Jukebox Bradlee finally had a crew of all shapes and kinds to help him achieve that truly spectacular sound he had always dreamed of. Since their forming, they have taken hits from the 1970’s to this very day and rewritten them in the full spirit of Postmodernism. At this moment Scott Bradlee has a following of 844,00 subscribers and approaching 150,000,000 views on his YouTube videos. Starting this year they are scheduled to tour North America and Europe. Thankfully, for those completely hooked on his videos, he shall still be making them while on tour.
Spotify is a music listening app that has transformed the world.
Spotify was created by, 31 year old Daniel Ek, as an application to allow the user to listen to any music and create playlists without paying anything. The way Spotify makes money is through advertisements in between songs.
Originally, Spotify started out solely on computers. In 2013, things changed, Spotify launched an app to allow smart phone users to also stream music. In 2013, Spotify had 24 million active users that streamed over 4.5 billion hours of music. This completely transformed the consumers experience in the music downloading industry but has reduced the profits of artists around the world, because nobody has to buy the songs anymore.
I believe Spotify is in trouble the next several months because of the growing number of artists pulling their albums off of Spotify. For instance 2 weeks ago, Taylor Swift, pulled all of her songs from Spotify to increase her profits by having fans pay full price for the new album, 1989, which just came out. Swift made a smart move, but it could start a movement by artists around the world to remove their songs from Spotify and all other free music listening applications.
Daniel Ek, founded his first company when he was only 14 years old. He has the drive of an entrepreneur to do whatever it takes to succeed. He is currently worth $400 million dollars and is making a significant difference around the world through the evolution of streaming music.
In entrepreneurship, your age doesn’t matter, your drive for success is what will carry you farther than ever before.