zaterdag 21 juni 2008

Lost in translation

The web is discriminating. The victim is: ME! In all seriousness, I have noticed the last couple of weeks that somehow I do not translate well on to the www. Whether it is via this blog, comments elsewhere or skype talks, important elements of the person I am are getting lost when I digitze myself.

2.0 is funny that way. In many ways it strips people down to the core of their being; their inner personality. And that's where I run into trouble. Not that I don't have one ( I actually think quite highly of myself, hah), but it's just words (in my case) that are used to convey who I am and what I believe. The physicality of human interaction is left out.

I feel I am being robbed of instinct. The web stripped me of the ambiguity I thrive on in real life. A certain look you give, a pause you take while speaking, how you walk in to a room, the fact that I am 6"7 or left handed. Gone.

Recently I played some poker online. And I went down in flames. It was clinical, without context and safe. Yet when seated at a table in a real life cash game, I hold my own, being able to fully explore the one element 2.0 is advocating, but I am missing; the human element. Does this expose me lacking fundamental math skills required for this game or exposes me to be a good soft skill player? How do you make such a judgement about a person? Do we start keeping tabs about online and off line feelings towards one another?

Would a nice template, some more pics, tweets, tags, clouds and streams enhance me on the web? Perhaps.. and yes the offline versions of tags and pics etc, are clothing and haircuts, make up etc, so If I do not translate well I should use the tools at hand better (get a make over of sorts), but there is still the loss of that ambiguity of flesh.

So what's my point: Will the web, like a great poetry translation, ever capture the nunaces of the meaning of people and convey them to full effect, or will it stay what it is now: a part of the picture that is editable to make you more or less than you really are. And if it stays this ways, but keeps gaining importance, where do I, we go from here?

woensdag 18 juni 2008

coke needs to be pushed

So the Carter III is out. and it's a hit. First day sales are predicted to be well over 400.000 copies. First week over a milli.

From a businessmodel and from a brand perspective there a couple of interesting observations to be made. Observations that hark back to some old school marketing lessons and some seem to encompas some 2.0 tricks.

In classic disruption fashion Lil 'Wayne's path to releasing his album has offered (often) lower quality in some ways (depth and comprihensiveness), but offered atractive trade offs as lower cost or free of charge, fresher output and anytime access.

1) Segmentation is crucial/Stand for something!

Wayne claimed "the best rapper alive" tag and stuck with it. He was ridiculed, laughed at by industry types and old hip hop heads. But that was never his core audience. Best rapper alive is not so much a slogan as it is a call to action for those who feel him and feel the same to join him in staking their claim (to call him the Obama of rap would be overstating it, but is yes we can so much different except for the "we" form).

His audience are the "80's + 90's babies", much like himself. Kids who heard of Biggie or Nas, but actually don't have a connection with those guys, much like you daddy's fav player being Best and you thinking Ronaldinho is the bees knees. Kids who got mountains to move. Kids who the record execs kinda ignored because of some common believe that they don't buy albums, they just go online...

2) However whenever where ever
So now that he knows who he is catering to, he needs to push his product in a way that appeals to his peoples: short, free and without delays. So he was out there: mixtapes, leaks, guest appearences. In 2007 he dropped 77 songs without releasing a official track. that's a track a week. Bit of a strategy like the toyota company. While other artists wait years to drop something, waiting for the perfect song, he just drops. Good plan right now, beating a better plan tomorrow type thinking.

3) primer inter parus + live your audiences lives
Yes he has the money, the fame the women..but he shares. Not the money or the fame or the women, but his experiences. He talks about going out and blowing money, about being dumped. It's not all glamour, nor is it the hard knock life that other rappers talk about. It's basically teen angst wrapped in syrup stories. Just like the kids who buy into him want it. 

The sense of talking to your audience is gone. Wayne is not an authority figure. It's more about being amongst the herd and making moves that they understand and respond to.

4) it's not the content, nor the competition, stupid!

He has flow, but little or no conceptual thinking in his non official material. But that's ok. With a song a week average he does not need to be deep, he just need to be out there. Going on mixtapes assures that he has the hottest beats at hand, making it easier to ride the wave of what's hot and what's not. piggybacking may not be original, but it is helpfull. 

What Wayne, and rap in general teach us, is that coopetiton is where it's at. Shared resources, like hot beats, producers and even verses written by other rappers can be used by different competitors. It's not even about them, it's as Wayne says about " doing you" and giving the crowd what they want.  

The time of keeping stuff in the vault is gone. Why try to create the hottest track all the time by yourselve, when the ecosystem that you are part of provides you with all you need to re-use and re-sell. All it asks is that you share as well. 

The best rapper alive (Lill Wayne) and the God MC (Jay-Z) share the same stage, beats, last name ;) and it's all good. The crowd want the best and are willing to pay for it. So they give it to them. With great profit.

5) Everybody likes an event (especially if their parents don't care for it) and once in, you stay the course

So you hear stories about Ali vs Frazier, about the Golden age of rap ( when wutang, nas, big, jay-z, dr dre, snoop and tupac dropped albums between 1992-1996) and what do u have? fuck all. So if the "best rapper alive" announces he is to drop his masterpiece, and then builds up by delaying a couple of times, buzz starts to create. Add to that the fact that he was not liked alot by the establishment and u got the makings of a perfect storm. 

From an strategy point of view Wanye was also creating commitment amongst his fans. Every time he delayed, people cared (either positive or negative), blogged and talked about it and in the end were more eager to get the album. 

6) The game is to be sold, not to be told

Reciprocation is about how, if you do something for somebody, they will feel obliged to do something for you, or they will at least feel better about doing something for you. And Wayne made sure that his fans knew he had given them enough and that is was time to return the favour. We are in the business of selling, lest we forget.

7) Scarcity AND ubiquity.

Lil' Wayne is talked about, written about. His drugs, women and money. Yet he remains elusive. Yes he does interview, but really tells nothing. He keeps it interesting. All the while being quite ubiquitous with his music. Like stated before, 77 songs and no official album did not saturate, but caused major interest. What would he do next? So by giving a lot (online), but also holding back (offline) he pushes and pulls people in. Know your channels and how to use them. Know how to start a converstation and how to provide tools to keep the conversation going.

8) Breathing space

Lil' Wayne has managed to created different brand molecules (idea John Grant) for himself. He is not a straight gangsterrapper, although he can lay claim to that aspect of life with some cred. He is not a straight pop artist, yet can do that quite well. 

He freestyles on various subjects and thus has created many layers and operating space. He has the room to stay current without being seen as bending to popular demand. He has fluidity to his persona/brand.

So what do we learn:

Create addicts, ha! 

Give your shit away (even if it's not top as long as it meets demand), isolate them by making sure they feel besieged by outsiders who don't understand, hype stuff up so that it feels monumental, leave room for yourself to stay current (either by sharing resources or by stretching who you are), cash in + don't forget to ask for the sale. repeat cycle.

Off to make some money...