Recently independent hip hop artist Chance the Rapper released his third mixtape “Coloring Book” and is streaming it for free exclusively on Apple Music. This was the first exclusive release on Apple Music, and an artist like Chance was ideal for the media giant to partner with.
When he first began making music, Chance did not agree with the major label business model that limited an artist’s earning potential and vision, and he decided to be completely independent of these constraints. As an independent brand, he is able to make the music he wants to make and distribute it to his audiences the way he sees fit, but he is dependent on his fans to earn revenue through concerts and merchandise. For Chance, complete freedommeant no marketing dollars or support system, and a challenge to be creative outside of the studio as well.
Brands should start paying attention to the content marketing tactics being used by musicians and influencers like Chance and Taylor Swift. Especially those with a limited budget. If a brand shares the same limitations as Chance the Rapper, it needs to make sure it is activating a passionate fan base to spread its messages with high-quality, valuable content and a unique brand offering.
There is a lot of value in free
Giving away music in the form of mixtapes to get noticed or have artistic freedom is a time-honored tradition in hip hop, but Chance has pressed the “free mixtape” perception by releasing all three of his albums for free. These albums feature big name guest artists and top-tier original production, which is almost a 180-degree shift from a traditional mixtape.
By offering quality music (content) for free, Chance was able to spread his music to the masses. People were able to learn about his music and what he stands for risk-free, which means there is a low barrier to entry and it was easy to share with friends. Brands offering quality and valuable content for free are able to connect with current and prospective customers or clients who may love it enough to make supportive investment in the future.
If you build a strong and passionate fan base, they become your greatest marketing tool
Chance understood that his fans were the key to his success, and he also understood how to connect with them and leverage their sphere of influence. From the very beginning of his career he used social media platforms, like Facebook, to share his music with friends and encouraged them to share it with their friends.
Despite his recent success and popularity, he continues to use this technique. He uses social media to let fans have a behind-the-scenes look at his life, offer exclusive content and give early access to concert tickets and merchandise. When the album cover and release date was announced, fans were able to purchase a poster of the album cover and were encouraged to plaster the poster all over.
Stay true to your brand
Not bound by the limitations of traditional marketing practices, Chance became more focused on offering fans an experience they could not find with another artist. Instead of offering the usual selection of album cover shirts and hats, Chance offered fully customizable merchandise allowing fans to design their own shirts, hats and hoodies with different colors and graphics. This unique marketing tactic allows fans to fully express themselves and share their love of his personal brand. Brands that are in touch with their key audiences’ interests can invest in strategic brand planning that’s a win/win for both sides.