Future & Freebandz return with a cult classic in ‘High Off Life’, the album is executive produced by DJ ESCO and host a cast of star studded features. Among those featured are some of hip hop’s heavyweights including Drake, Young Thug, Lil Baby, Travis Scott, Lil Uzi Vert and many more. As Future continues his run as the ‘Rap Game Bill Russell’, the rapper’s latest release is being projected as his seventh №1 album debut by Billboard. While combining strategy and a winning process, the Atlanta superstar has created a recipe for success. Future utilizes a number of music release strategies that every artist should add to their repertoire. One noteworthy tactic that the rapper excels at is positioning his content within his overall objectives as a brand.
In the article below, I dive deeper into content strategy and the benefit of creating a repeatable lifecycle. This method of producing content creates freedom, while simultaneously eliminating speculation out of execution.
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Content strategy is a preparation cycle for creating and managing digital content such as photos, audio, visuals, etc. The repeatable lifecycle infers that each type of content that is produced within your organization can be reproduced by using the same methods each time. The overlaying scheme of content strategy has Governance built-in (execution+consistency) and should always be at the heart of everything you do in order to produce magnetic content.
Now let’s deep dive into Future’s 5 music release strategies every artists should know.
1. Quality Control
Future has done a great job at perfecting his sound. Being a product of Outkast and ‘The Dungeon Family’, the rapper has found a way to produce sonic quality at a consistent rate without coming off as repetitive. The Freebandz team has surrounded him with a number of artists that not only compliment him as an artist, they add to the sonic presentation of his music releases. At the helm, you have creative regulars like DJ ESCO, who helped Future to produce 56 Nights & Purple Reign during his legendary mixtape run. For artists, when you are producing content for consumption. You want to focus on the overall sound and quality of the project, so that nothing sticks out or seems out of place. For Future, him achieving this feat included partnering up with DJ ESCO for his signature wave of music.
The quality control strategy allows you to better regulate how you present content to your fan base. Developing an overall sound puts you in position to plan everything from visuals to aesthetics. For Future and DJ ESCO, they embrace that brand of “Rockstar Lifestyle” music, this provides a mutual understanding of where to take the music sonically. The second part of quality control is planning. Future does a great job of introducing fans to the wave of music he is planning to present. The release of his single with Drake, ‘Life Is Good’ was a great strategy in retrospect, as the move put the Atlanta rapper in position to go “Gold” just 30 minutes after the release of “High Off Life”. The single is currently on its way to garnering more than 500 million views on YouTube. Check out the video below,
2. Create A Strong Visual Image
A strong visual image includes everything from brand aesthetics to how you present the visuals surrounding your project. For more strategies and tactics, check out a recent article I wrote about building a strong brand image like Smino.
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Future does a great job at being consistent and presenting a certain brand image. His core fan base is familiar with his overall sound and messaging. So his ability to produce and execute at a high level allows him to expand his reach to larger audiences. For artists, when you are a releasing a project for consumption, you want to create aesthetics that go along with your content. Future has presented branded images that push the narrative of a person being “High Off Life” and the overall ‘feel’ of the project being a cult classic.
The brand aesthetics of the project are presented as if it was motion picture. Early in Future’s career, he often would refer to his mixtapes as ‘making a movie’. Giving off the impression, that the experience of his music is ‘unreal’ or ‘above reality’. This adds to his overall brand of being from Atlanta and seeing things that you wouldn’t normally see in other cities or settings. Gucci Mane being the first rapper to coin the phrase, “Rockstar Lifestyle, might not make it.” People buy into the “bad boy” image and Future has consistently used the effect of toxic emotions presented in his music to an advantage.
3. The Netflix Effect
When releasing a project, a major component of its success is accessibility. With many of the algorithms in place today, your fan base can find your content without searching for your music. Platforms like YouTube, present a tremendous value for artists because it allows users to go down a rabbit hole or discover new artists based on viewing history alone. Future is one artist that has done a phenomenal job at presenting his content and making it accessible across all platforms. The Netflix Effect not only allows for content discovery, it encourages content binging. So for artists, a big factor in the success of your career is the accessibility of your content. Because with each new project, recent releases are essentially advertising and provide an opportunity for fans to discover your body of work. The goal should always be to get people to buy into your music and join you on your journey.
4. Features & Project Recommendations
This is a great strategy that has been perfected by Atlanta rappers for some time and is probably one of the main reasons why Atlanta has been so dominant in hip hop. Although, Wu-Tang Clan was probably the first to bring light to the situation. It’s a combination of brand collusion, marketing and strategy. As an artist, having the ‘right’ features can work wonders for your career because it speaks to quality control, brand relations and growing a fan base. Among all the artists featured on ‘High Off Life’, a good majority of them have recently released music.
Let’s go through the list below, in order of appearance:
- Travis Scott, Kid Cudi — THE SCOTTS (Audio)
- YoungBoy Never Broke Again — 38 Baby 2
- Chris Brown & Young Thug — SLIME & B
- Lil Uzi Vert — Eternal Atake
- Drake — Dark Lane Demo Tapes
- Lil Durk — Just Cause Yall Waited 2
- DJ ESCO & Doe Boy — 56 Birdz
- Meek Mill — Believe (feat. Justin Timberlake) [Official Music Video]
- DaBaby — Blame It On Baby
- Lil Baby — My Turn (Deluxe)
Features & Project Recommendations are a great way to grow your fan base and also develop brand partnerships within a region or genre. Creative collaboration in my opinion, will always be a great way to develop unity and push artists to perfect their craft.
5. Form A Deep Connection With Your Fan Base
As artists, it will always begin and end with your fans. That is why it is important to cultivate those relationships. Sometimes people let fame go to their head and to avoid that downfall — you have to be aware that it is not just about YOU. It’s about the Art and providing a service to the people. T.I. described it best, when he said, “Imagine going to a mechanic and they mess up your car. Would you go back to that mechanic?” Take the approach of any business, you’re only as good as your customers. So, what is an artists without a fan base?
Future has done a great job at storytelling and creating a bond with his core fan base. His projects are always constructed around providing a narrative, then leaving you looking for answers. Comparable to what you would see with season finales that would raise questions, but not get answered until the next season. It’s a great marketing scheme that every artists should deploy, if possible. That’s the beauty of storytelling with content, it’s always ongoing. This brings me to my final point, as artists, the number #1 rule is to focus on the fans who consume your content. These relationships can assist you in meeting your objectives in music (building a community, cultivating a fan base or acquiring a record deal, etc). With “High Off Life”, Future has structured the project as a time piece. He discusses his wins, his losses and his journey up to this point in life.
Check out Future’s latest music video, “Hard To Choose One” below, it’s a movie.
Future Is Now.