Nipsey Hussle was one of the few rappers who had complete control over his destiny. The Los Angeles native built a brand and a career outright before partnering with Atlantic Records for his first major label debut in ‘Victory Lap’. Not only will Nipsey Hussle go down in history as a marketing genius, he will also be remembered for his keen ability to build leverage and execute at a high level. After making a splash with CRENSHAW, the mixtape that he sold for $100 dollars a pop, he solidified his rise to fame with consistency and continued to build his brand locally and within the Hyde Park community. He embraced Peter Thiel’s idea of micro to macro in 0 to 1, believing that if he could influence Los Angeles, he could subsequently influence the World. With his theory being proven true, the retail part of his empire, 'The MARATHON Clothing’ continues to be a hotspot for tourists from around the Globe.

Eventually, being mentioned in the same conversations as Lakers Great Kobe Bryant and other Los Angeles legends, Nipsey Hussle personified what it meant to be an entertainment mogul. Completely doing it his way and retaining ownership within his companies. Early believers in Nipsey Hussle included the likes of Jay Z, who purchased 100 copies of the CRENSHAW mixtape, and Snoop Dogg, who Nipsey was often compared to after his “Hussle In The House” release. The rapper redefined what it meant to be an independent musician and businessman, continuously reiterating the importance of retaining equity. Keying in on ownership, entrepreneurship and honoring the hustler, he laid out a number of steps for all artists to follow. If succeeding as an independent artist is your long term goal, Nipsey Hussle’s path to success is a great example.

Lets deep dive into Nipsey Hussle’s 10 Steps To Building A Music Empire.

1. Focus On Your Core Product

2. Creative Collaboration

Check out Nipsey Hussle’s latest music video with YG, “Last Time That I Checc’d

3. Study Success

4. Experiment and Pay Attention (Segmentation & Price Points)

5. Understand Your Brand & Your Fans

6. Focus On Ownership

“I’m not into trading ownership of the only asset I have, which is my intellectual property.”

— Nipsey Hussle

This goes back to studying success, examine artists who own their music versus artists who don’t. Jay Z said it best, “I’ll never sign another record deal” and Nipsey made it very clear, “We can’t have a conversation if it’s not about a partnership or being an owner.” Ownership affords opportunity and it also affords power regarding the decisions being made. Check out the article below, as I go through some of Nipsey’s key choices and moments that defined him as a business mogul and independent artist.

7. Invest In Your Music Empire

8. Analyze Fan Data (Demographics, Analytics & Psychographics)

In my opinion, data is more valuable than money because it puts you in position to repeatedly create value, make connections and expand your reach. For artists, there are three different types of data that you should be gathering. The first is analytics, which covers your blog/website, social media (music streaming) and email campaigns. This form of data can assist you in what type of content to produce, what content is most popular and when to release a project. The second is demographics, which covers the overall gender and location of your fan base. As artists, if you’re interested in developing markets outside of your city, this is where you would analyze to build a marketing campaign or create specific content. The third is psychographics, which involves understanding what drives behavior and how to speak to your fan base on a psychological level. Nipsey did a great job of exploiting this data through his musical releases, touring and retail. His most interesting utilization of data involved the retail aspect of his business. He discussed plans to open up a total of ten “The MARATHON Clothing” stores in markets where he had the most traction. He planned to repeat the steps he had taken with the release of his CRENSHAW mixtape. Selling 1000 physical copy albums for $100 each, generating $1 million dollars of cash revenue over the span of the marketing campaign.

9. Don’t Be A Fame Junkie (In The Words Nipsey Hussle)

“I’m not doing this for the fame. I was famous in the streets already.”

10. Embrace The Magic of Thinking Big

“How much he getting paid? The writer that wrote that, I pay them type of salaries to my employees; at my business. That got felonies and can’t get jobs.

No disrespect. So who’s the underachiever? I own my company. I own the asset of this whole industry, which is your masters — your intellectual property — your publishing.

Your metrics and what you’re gauging as an achievement, is actually like a peon or underboss way of looking at it. I’m not in it for the fame. Everybody wanna be seen and held at the highest regard — obviously ya know but you can’t cash that out. You can’t take that to the bank.

You can make it other ways, but you know what’s the asset? What do the labels do it for? They do it for the ownership, for the catalog, for the mailbox money.

I think if you’re up on what’s going on, you’ll respect that.

You wouldn’t say dude underachieving.”

— Nipsey Hussle on Complex

At the end of the day, it’s a marathon. Think BIG and play for longevity.

A big part of building a music empire is paying attention to what has been successful in the past and applying it to your journey. While also, keeping innovation in mind and having an idea of what’s going to benefit you down the road. If you’re interested in reading more about the independent grind, check out my article featuring Tech N9ne and his long journey of building Strange Music into an independent rap empire without a record deal.

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Written by

Entrepreneur based in Minneapolis, MN. I write about Music, Inspiration, Economics & Business. Website: & Newsletter:

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