“Attention is the new money”: Hip hop, listen up!

This contribution is by regular contributor and hip-hop legend Mike Johns, President of Digital Mind State who tweets here

The best source to find new music be it hip hop, rock, house or reggae without paying a dime, look no further than YouTube. Good for music lovers, but for artists maybe not so much.

According to the Nielsen Music 360 survey, nearly two-thirds of US teenagers use Google’s You Tube to listen to music more than any other medium. Nine of the top 10 most viewed YouTube videos are music videos; YouTube has quickly transformed into Generation Y’s MTV.

The site maintained its lead in the US as the most popular music video destination site over rivals Vimeo and Vevo and it boasts the most unique monthly viewers as well as the most engaged viewers, according to comScore. Google has been aggressive in music licensing; you can find just about any song on YouTube within seconds. The site is perfect for allowing users to create and share playlist. That said, how are Hip Hop artists leveraging online video platforms?

Hip hop is one of the most creative forms of music and early adoptors of technology now need to understand the power of online video platforms. Hip hop artists from the US to the UK have all turned to YouTube as the premier destination to upload and share videos.

It has appeal for several key reasons. YouTube is a trusted name for video uploading covering multiple devices, it is easy to navigate through and most of all… it’s free. Today the No.1 goal for hip hop artists as it relates to social media is branding and staying connecting with fans; YouTube provides a solid home for that.

An example of how artists are utilising the power of YouTube can be found with West Coast legendary rapper Snoop Dogg. He’s doing all the right things possible with his Westfest TV YouTube channel. His call to action is fully in place, fans can subscribe to his channel to receive the latest video, they can post comments and Snoop has the option to respond.

As for monetisation once the video has been watched, the song can be purcahsed directly from iTunes. Snoop’s channel is also connected with the big-name social media outlets of Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, Tumblr, Soundcloud and even newcomer Viddy to engage with fans. So, is that it?

With Big Snoop having more than (at time of writing) 20,731,439 Facebook ‘Likes’ and 10,083,054 followers on Twitter, is YouTube really the best online video platform option? Google’s YouTube continues to enjoy the benefits of having the most engaged online viewer experience as well as racking in big time advertising bucks with a solid formula in place that’s based on the number of impressions generated.

Make no mistake, Google’s YouTube site is a media company that’s in the business of making money. Hip hop artist and musician alike must have a digital strategy similar to that of YouTube in order to maximise leverage. In the movie Cadillac Records you can either be like Muddy Waters riding around in paid-for Cadillacs that were deducted from artist pay or be Muddy’s rival character Holwin’ Wolf and have complete ownership!

Hip Hop artists and musicians alike need to note. If viewers can get the benefits of viewing content for free, then why pay for it? The trick is to make your audience go through a different projector. In essence you want to reposition the game where ‘they’ can’t get the milk for free. Hip Hop artist, musicians and music entertainment websites need to have a strategy in place when dealing both with online video platforms and all aspects of digital. It’s the age old clash between artistry and business.

If your mission is to promote, brand and sell a few records then you’re missing out on the bigger picture. Snoop Dogg who last year launched a new weekly show, GGN (Double G News) Network on his YouTube channel. Snoop Dogg‘s GGN content can be found everywhere online when it should be powered solely from his website.

YouTube should be used to promote clips from his show only while directing fans back to his website. Snoop’s team should invest in a customized video player where advertisers would easily pay for. Fans would have the ability to embed the branded player into their respective website or blog. This will allow four things:

1. He can now control the experience and brand
2. Encourage integration with content
3. Create new behavior.
4. Monetise

If a portal was built and he received just 10% download from a mobile app that’s two million people. He delivers one video per week, that’s 60 million impressions. He now will have the ability to demand a higher CPM of $10 (much more than Google typically offers) which represents $600,000 per month in revenues.

Additional views can also be generated using the power of social media that raises the number of impressions to 120-180 million and further increases revenue potential. This is a solid strategic approach allowing Big Snoop to maximize and monetise his presence.

On the other side, Kanye West had the opportunity to change hip hop then he teamed up with New York-based ad agency Global Hues and the incubated Voyr video player. The subscription-based online video service launched a year ago and provided HD quality content, a behind-the-scenes access to West 35 city tour supporting the Watch The Throne album.

For $4.99, fans were supposed to be able to follow the star while on tour including witnessing West’s daily schedule, workout regimen, diet and other cool stuff. Mr. West stood to benefit big time if the site was able to gain traction.

But West seems to only be concerned with how he could brand and promote with Voyr while advertisers were willing to spend and sponsor various episodes. If only West took advantage of some of the concepts presented included allowing fans to engage and to vote on set designs for the Watch The Throne tour. Unfortunately the concept Global Hue presented to West fell short.

From a business side, Voyr strategy failed horribly as the same paid content was also accessible on YouTube. Voyr lacked a protected asset management that could have potential curbed some of the hacking. In short, the exclusive content Voyr offered to its paying subscribers could be found for free on YouTube. Strategically, YouTube should have been used to promote daily episodes in a ‘teasers’ like format only, with the show in its entirety be made available exclusive on Voyr.

South Korean rapper Psy, who became a viral video sensation with the hit song Gangnam Style, continues to be No.1 on YouTube’s music chart but how much is he really monetising? He has a total of 550,964,019 video impressions and YouTube has racked in mega bucks off the dance craze but what about Psy?

Unfortunately he’s not making enough money on the dance craze that he started. A investment should be made into creating his own customised video player, web portal and mobile app that would allow fans to create and join in on the Gangnam Style dance with Psy’s team having complete control of the content and the ability to rate and judge the top spoof videos.

Advertisers would pay top CPM to be associated with the new dance phenomena Psy has created. Until artist and musicians alike recognise big picture and power of online video platforms, they will remain limited in how they are leveraging this new frontier.

Hip Hop and everyone else should take note to what UK-based wireWax and its unique interactive TV technology is doing. WireWax teamed up with Interscope Records rapper Iggy Azalea and Grammy-nominated Diplo ft FKi to produce a successful interactive music video for Canadian online luxury apparel and accessory retailer, SSENSE for the company new marketing campaign.

The music video becomes an innovative ‘look book’ allowing fans to pick and choose from a selection of ‘fly’ threads and accessories that the artist are wearing in the video with the ability to purchase, with one click to buy. What’s very impressive is the adoption rate as result of the music video, 58% click-through rate and $20,000 of converted sales in two weeks for SSENSE (not bad).
Here are the facts:

* First purposely produced music video with all products featured having actionable ecommerce
* Branded tags and branded application
* Embedded across social media and high-influencing web presence – in more than 4,000 locations; trending number 1 in the US on first day of launch. Scored a 31% click-through rate.

Rick Ross says it best, It’s Deeper Than Rap, but hopefully this article will shed light. YouTube is NOT the be all and end all for branding, promoting, monetising and connecting with fans.

Artists who can garner more than one million impressions should seriously consider investing beyond a microphone, Pro tools, HD cameras and raise the bar by investing in a online video player.

I suggest investing in your own customised video players as you can do several cool things such as augmenting the experience, social network integration, clipping technology and the ability to be viewed across all platforms.

Start-up costs typically average about $3,000, charges thereafter are based upon consumption. Companies such as wireWax, The Platform and Kultura specialize in this service. Musicians need to think in terms of CREATE, OWN and MAXIMIZE the distribution of content. Hip Hop must adapt a new philosophy than pay checks for immediacy, think long range.

YouTube should remain at the core of one’s digital strategy but used to promote teasers or clips of a video/show while the entirety of the show should be made available exclusive on one’s website that features a customized online video player. By having your own video player an artist can “drive behavior.”

A good example of this can be found by watching the online presence of American Idol or E! Online. Attention is fast becoming ‘new money’ in new media. Return On Attention equals times (impression + reach + influence). “Attention is the New Money!”

This is Mike Johns, Digital Mind State- Holla at ya boy!

Mike Johns (13 Posts)

Mike Johns is the Founder and President of Digital Mind State formerly known as UrbanWorld Wireless, the Los Angeles based company that bridged wireless technology and hip-hop culture. Mike Johns is the driving force behind the Digital Mind State brand, responsible for planning, business development, marketing and the company expansion.