The Brand is Strong

In Beats + Bytes by Nue Agency


Hip-hop runs the world, it’s a fact. Since I was in high school, artists like Nas, Tupac, and Puffy influenced what I liked, what I wore, and how I carried myself. I got my start in the biz throwing parties and quickly discovered “the X factor” that determines whether an event is a failure or a success: is hip-hop in the house?

There’s a great article in Rolling Stone this week which claims that, thanks to rap music, the music industry is no longer embarrassed or shy about advertising and brand partnerships. Last summer, Nielsen confirmed that rap had surpassed rock as America’s most popular genre. It rattled boardrooms the nation over. We need Quavo on a Wheaties box!

As entrepreneurs, it’s our job to see the future, to expect the unexpected. While sports branding has become a 60 billion dollar industry, music’s equivalent stands at a paltry 1.5 billion. Kanye can sell out a basketball arena with one mic (or one tweet…) but the amount of money spent on sports remains bewilderingly disproportional to what we see in entertainment. I know plenty of people who care more about Kendrick than CP3 or Bryce Harper. Maybe that’s why the Yeezy brand was just given a billion dollar valuation. This is a big arbitrage opportunity for marketers.

If this were a gold rush, you’d start seeing hip-hop deals level off, but they’re not. They’re getting bigger and more frequent. Since starting this company, I’ve learned the ins and outs of the brand deal. We do them around the clock at Nue. Believe me, there’s nothing quite like making that meaningful match. And it’s long been clear to us that hip-hop can’t be pigeonholed or stuffed into the tried-and-true box of liquor brands and sneaker deals. Is our industry finally realizing the immense profit potential of expanding its horizons?

At Atlanta’s A3C Conference in October I will have the honor of being a featured speaker alongside Rob Stone and Steve Stoute, a couple cats who know a thing or two about hip-hop 😉 If you’re in the area, check out the Artist Accelerator panel, the Beatstars Summit, and the Music Tech talk. This conference is fully focused on the future and growing with the times. Here’s to hoping the music business does the same.

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Also published on Medium.