- Mac Miller’s “Watching Movies With the Sound Off” Will Outsell Kanye & Cole on June 18
- J. Cole’s Puts “Born Sinner” vs. Kanye West’s “Yeezus”: Stupid, or Stupid Like a Fox?
- Fails: Nicki Minaj Takes The Lap Dance To New Levels Of Awkwardness (Video)
- Internet Memes Gone Wrong: The Drake & Miguel Drop Kick Edition (Pics)
- Sweet Baby “Yeezus” Kanye Killed These SNL “Black Skinhead” & “New Slave” Performances
Mac Miller’s Smarter Than You, Deal With ItPosted by Nathan S. on 11/21/11 | Filed under Top Stories, Features, Mac Miller
Ok, I know "smarter than everyone else" is a bit of an exaggeration, but not by much. In the words of Jay-Z, numbers don't lie. Mac's debut album "Blue Slide Park" debuted at number one...in the country....period...making it only the second indie hip-hop album in music history to ever accomplish that feat. The only other was Tha Dogg Pound's, “Dogg Food” in '95, which was backed by Snoop and Dre and was only indie in the loosest sense of the term.
Miller, on the other hand, is actually indie. "Blue Slide Park" not only beat out other indie releases, he beat out billion dollar major labels and did it with exactly zero co-signs, zero guest features and essentially zero radio play. This is a "Miracle on Ice" level underdog upset. (Yep, that makes the major labels the evil Russians, and I'm totally fine with that analogy.)
I know a lot of people are recoiling at the thought that they should respect Miller, and that headline's in large part my way of fucking with them for fun, but let's be clear. Mac isn't some Justin Bieber pop sensation. He inarguably knows his hip-hop history; if I have to explain what his "92 Till Infinity" mixtape is a reference to you don't know you're hip-hop history? Is he the greatest rapper alive? Not even close, but he's better than a lor of detractors want to admit.
But it doesn't really matter what you think of Mac's music. Regardless, there are some crucial lessons Mac's success has taught us, and if you're so blinded by your hate for Miller that you refuse to learn those lessons, fine. Enjoy getting left behind.
Lesson One - Friends Not Fans: Unless you're a mega star like Drake or Kanye, the days of casual fans buying your music are over. What artists need now are friends. Think about it like this. Some walks up to you and asks for $10 . You've seen this guy around - wasn't he in your Biology 101 class last semester? - but you don't really know him. So you tell him get the fuck out of here, I'm not giving you $10.
Now you're friend, a dude you've known for years, walks up and asks for $10. You've only got a $20, but you give it to him and tell him not to sweat the extra $10.
Most artists spend their time chasing fans, but Mac's invested all of his energy into building friends. That means involving his friends in music decisions (they help decide what the next single should be), giving them extra bonuses (merch, music, etc.) and touring incessantly; all strategies that Tech N9ne's also employed to huge success.
These days it's all about quality (friends) over quantity (fans), but most artists are still focused on gaining fans. They can't help it, they want to be mega stars. But ironically they're so focused on building massive fan bases that they'll never become mega stars. "Blue Slide Park" proves that you've rather have 100K friends who will actually buy your album than 1 million fans that will rip it.
Speed & Agility Kill: These days it's no secret that things move fast. A single drops and it's old 48 hours later. One of the primary reasons the majors have suffered is because they're still built like massive, slow moving bureaucracies. They have 17 meetings to decide the next single, then that decision gets passed down to the marketing department, and by the time the single actually drops it's three months later and the track's already leaked.
Mac's team is small and only has to answer to themselves, so if on Monday morning he decides to put out a new single he can have it out by Monday afternoon. This flexibility has also allowed him to make some significant innovations. He promised his friends that if "Blue Slide Park" hit 50K pre-orders he'd drop the album right then, release date be damned. It was a move I'd never seen anyone attempt before, and something that would make a major label throw up in their mouth if they even considered, but it was obviously a move that worked.
Does anyone actually care about release dates anymore? Who's got a release date circled on their calendar? One day the album's just out, you go "oh yeah, I want to get that", head over to iTunes and grab it. Tying releases to fan involvement, and not a set date, not only makes sense in the digital age but helps convert those fans to friends.
I don't know what the next innovation is going to be, but I do know that the next artist who figures it out - as opposed to trotting out the same, tired weekly release plan for example - is going to be the next big success.
To be clear, this isn't all Mac's doing, or maybe even primarily his doing. He's signed to Rostrum Records, run by Artie Pitt and Benjy Grinberg, who through their work building Wiz Khalifa from the beginning has turned the small Pittsburgh indie label into one of the industry's biggest success stories. But regardless, there's no denying that Mac's laying down a blueprint for success in the 2012, and he's wisely time and time again turned down major label offers, saying he'd rather see how far he and his small team can take things on their own.
These days, if you're smart enough, you can yourself all the way to #1.