Ryan Leslie is a Grammy-nominated singer, songwriter, rapper and entrepreneur. He is also the creator of SuperPhone, a CRM platform that focuses on helping artists build one-to-one relationships with their fan base.
The direct-to-consumer strategy has helped to redefine how artists connect with the individuals who truly support their music. One of the many advocates of the direct-to-consumer strategy was Nipsey Hussle.
He deployed the ‘one-to-one’ strategy for the release of his breakout mixtape “CRENSHAW”. Selling 1000 hard copies of the mixtape for $100 each. The purchase included merchandise, tickets to an exclusive concert and preferences to future content.
The response Nipsey Hussle received was incredible. Selling out of the hard copy mixtapes within 24-hours and also receiving a 100-copy purchase from Jay Z. Not only did Nipsey Hussle’s $100 mixtape create conversations that are still being played out to this day. It provided a perspective behind the power of having a direct relationship with your fan base.
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The move also solidified Ryan Leslie’s theory that you don’t need millions of fans to be a successful artist. In an interview with TechCrunch, he describes what prompted him to experiment and develop a new model for artists to follow.
“I decided to go completely direct-to-consumer — not because I needed more money, but because I actually had a genuine curiosity about who, on a precision level, was supporting my music.”
The zinger about Ryan Leslie is that, not only is he an extremely creative individual. He is also a Harvard graduate who received a degree in Government with a concentration in Political Science and Macroeconomics.
Logic plays a major factor as well. Ryan Leslie is someone who has experienced the music industry as an artist being signed to a major label and being able to point out the shortcomings of a system.
Somewhat of a bureaucracy within the music industry. In an interview with Julian Mitchell and Forbes. He describes how there wasn’t a go-to CRM platform in place for re-targeting consumers who may have engaged or purchase your products.
Access. Appreciation. Acknowledgement.
He provided a simple solution, to a simple problem.
“SuperPhone is the first foray into personal relationship management.”
— Ryan Leslie
That is the beauty of Technology and American Capitalism. With the Internet, we are seeing value being created all around us and how you choose to capitalize is totally up to you. It’s important to create your own pipeline.
Ryan Leslie is a great example of what it truly means to be an independent artist. If you’re not interested in signing a major label record deal and your overall goal is to produce content. You can build a fan base of people who truly support the products that you present to the World.
Kevin Kelly’s concept of 1,000 True Fans proposes that if a person can get 1,000 people to spend $100 per year on products that they produce. You can make a living at $100,000 a year. It all begins with having a direct relationship with your fan base.
In today’s World, it’s — very much — possible.
If you’re an independent artists, business should take the front seat more than ever. It’s like your favorite local restaurant or local establishment, they’re not focused on providing a service to the World they are focused on providing a service to their community.
Ryan Leslie has provided a blueprint that artists should follow. This includes direct-to-consumer, one-to-one marketing and providing experiences. People not only pay for products, they pay for experiences. Think about it like this:
How many people travel or go on vacation?
How many people go to the Zoo or Aquarium?
How many people still go to the movies even though there’s a plethora of streaming services?
Take the same approach with your content. Think about how you can provide content that creates value. How can you build lasting relationships with your fan base? It goes back to Access — Appreciation — Acknowledgement.
Now, lets breakdown the numbers behind ‘How Ryan Leslie Made $2 Million Off of 1000 True Fans’.
With his ability to communicate with his strongest fans, Ryan Leslie was able to execute a strategy that involved Psychographics, fan segmentation and providing an experience that grossed him over $2 million dollars. Using the documentary below as the only ‘promotion’.
Check out “Ryan Leslie presents “BLACK MOZART”
For one album cycle, he was able to:
- Sell 15,000 records at $10 each = $150,000
- Sell 40,000 concert tickets at $40 each (European Tour) = $1,600,000
- Renegades merchandise sales = $250,000
Visiting back to Nipsey Hussle, he approached the direct-to-consumer strategy from a micro-to-macro perspective. Understanding that if he could influence Los Angeles, he could influence the World. Check out the article below, as I deep dive into the 10 steps that he laid out for artists and entrepreneurs to follow.
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Ryan Leslie approaches the direct-to-consumer strategy from a Global or Macroeconomic perspective. Understanding that there are pockets of activity that entrepreneurs can focus on to gain traction.
Fan segmentation and being able to reach fans where they consume content is major factor in the direct-to-consumer strategy. SuperPhone and its CRM capabilities combined with SMS allow artists to build and connect with fans directly on their mobile devices.
Access plays an essential role on both ends of the spectrum for one-to-one marketing.
Can the fan base reach the content and can the artist reach the fan base?