Hey! Two quick updates for you:
- I am planning a Bay Area Trapital Brunch in December. Stay tuned for more details next week!
- I am holding off on the Taylor Swift-Scooter Braun-Scott Borchetta situation until there’s more info. The story has followed an unsurprising pattern of he said / she said. Any thoughtful assessment right now would be based on pure conjecture and influenced by predetermined bias, and that wouldn’t be fair to you all. You can read Taylor’s comments here, Big Machine’s response here, and unsubstantiated takes on the situation anywhere else on the internet!
Today’s update covers the anniversaries of both The Slim Shady LP and 2001, Spotify and Procter & Gamble’s new podcast with John Legend and Pusha T, and Summer Walker’s career struggles.
Dr. Dre and Eminem’s Run Turns 20
We all have that friend who went a little too extra for their milestone birthday festivities. Yes, life is meant to be celebrated, but do we need to turn up for the entire month?? At some point, we all got things to do. Some of you might be that friend! And if that’s the case, you probably got other things to do to if you’re being honest.
But rest assured, even if you are that friend, your celebratory measures were likely pale in comparison to Eminem’s. February was the Detroit rapper’s 20th anniversary of The Slim Shady LP, the album that launched his career. Here’s a brief breakdown of what the rapper has done this year to commemorate it:
- February: Re-issued Slim Shady LP Expanded Edition on streaming services for the first time. Including tracks from The Wild Wild West soundtrack.
- April: Released Capsule 1, a collection of commemorative throwback merchandise. Eminem’s website also featured an interview with rapper Skam and photographer Danny Hasting on their contributions to the album
- November: Releasing Capsule 2 on November 19. More merchandise.
Despite the year-long celebration, each of these merch drops has sold out and the upcoming Drop 2 will probably do the same. The customers are there so it’s hard to knock Team Slim Shady for maximizing the fan willingness to pay, but there’s a better, more holistic way to maximize all this.
Eminem’s rise is synonymous with Dr. Dre. Tomorrow is the 20th anniversary of 2001, Dr. Dre’s album that in many ways is a cousin to Eminem’s album, The Marshall Mathers LP. These albums are so connected that I sometimes mix up the songs! A few months ago I swore that “Bitch Please II” was on 2001, but it was actually on Marshall Mathers LP.
The grouping of these albums reminds me of the “twin films” concept in Hollywood. Movies about the same subject often get made around the same time (Dunkirk and Darkest Hour, Hulu and Netflix’s Fyre Festival documentaries, Armageddon and Deep Impact). Sometimes it’s sheer coincidence, but other times its an intentional push for collective attention—especially if the same studio is involved. It was an intentional strategy for Aftermath Entertainment since 2001 dropped conveniently between Eminem’s two albums. We still see this tactic executed today. Last summer, G.O.O.D. Music artists released five albums that were all seven-tracks.
That collective attention drove the popularity for both Eminem and Dr. Dre albums, which featured many of the same artists: Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg, and Xzibit. Their promotional run was capped off with the Up in Smoke Tour, one of the most iconic rap tours in the post-Hard Knock Life Tour era.
There’s a great opportunity to coordinate a joint campaign for both 2001 and Marshall Mathers LP. The rollouts could culminate next summer with commemorative merchandise for the 20th anniversary of the Up in Smoke Tour.
The chances of this happening are slim though. Dr. Dre didn’t do anything for The Chronic 20th anniversary in 2012 or 25th in 2017. The likelihood of 2001 getting love seems slim.
Procter & Gamble and Spotify Launch Podcast with John Legend and Pusha T
“You’re not pretty for a Black girl. You are beautiful, period.”
With this simple reminder from a mother to her young daughter, Procter & Gamble’s award-winning campaign, “The Talk,” began a conversation about race in mainstream media. Now, Spotify and P&G are continuing the dialogue with Harmonize, a new podcast series focused on the impact of racial bias in the U.S. and how music has served as a catalyst for change. The four episodes, featuring Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony Award-winner (EGOT) John Legend and rapper, songwriter, and record executive Pusha T, are available today exclusively on Spotify.
Before I assess this partnership, Procter & Gamble deserves credit for its continued efforts to openly address systemic racism and sexism. As the largest CPG company in the world and one of the largest advertisers, it has had an important role in the images that impact society. While some of its competitors still position products in ways that reinforce colorism, prejudice, and other problematic beauty standards, the multinational firm understands its role and has pushed the discussion forward. That deserves acknowledgment.
There are several parties involved here, so let’s break down the value prop for everyone involved:
- exclusive content – helps acquire or retain free customers (which generates more ad revenue, and more paid subscriber conversions).
- association with diversity – Spotify wants to strengthen its diversity efforts both internally and externally. Producing this podcast helps get there.
- artist relationships – while streaming music exclusives aren’t as prevalent as they once were, other projects, like podcast and radio exclusives are more common than ever. This opens the door for future collabs with Pusha T, John Legend, and others.
Procter & Gamble
- continue diversity efforts – after “The Talk,” “The Look,” and Gillette’s “The Best a Man Can Get,” it’s a continuation. While those three projects are time-intensive, the production effort is much lower on a conversational podcast.
- authentic artist collaborations – it’s much more meaningful to see Pusha T in a Procter & Gamble podcast on diversity than say, Nelly in a Honey Hunt Cheerios commercial for the sole purpose of using the pun, “must be the honey.” Customers reward companies for earnest efforts.
- more business from diverse customers – this is top of mind for P&G. The company purchased Tristan Walker’s Walker & Co. earlier this year. Walker & Co was originally started to be P & G for the underrepresented, which implied that P&G wasn’t doing the best job at the time. P&G purchasing that same company says a lot about their focus.
Pusha T and John Legend
- Exposure via global companies – I often write about the benefits stars get when partnering with companies with mass distribution. The benefits aren’t just sneakers or merchandise drops. A partner like P&G can be effective even if there aren’t products sold. For instance, John Legend spoke at Cannes Lion earlier this year as part of this P&G-Spotify partnership.
- Opportunity to tell their story – while John Legend has several outlets to voice his thoughts on racism and other societal issues, the same can’t necessarily be said about Pusha T. Can you imagine Pusha T releasing an IG video where he opened up and said “I wanna keep it real with you, I’ve been processing some thoughts”? Even though he’s be justified to so do, it would seem a bit off-brand. This podcast is an opportunity to tell his story in a setting that’s built for it.
The short, four-episode podcast season gives P&G and Spotify time to assess this as a pilot. As of now, neither Push or Legend promoted the podcast themselves on social media. Legend is clearly in the middle of his promo run for People Magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive,” but they should both be spreading the word! The more awareness it gets, the better it is for all parties involved.
Summer Walker’s Struggles
Earlier this week, Summer Walker went on Instagram to let her fans know that she is canceling future shows
“As you know, I have been very open about my struggle with social anxiety. I want to continue to be healthy and to make music for y’all, so I have decided to cut down some of the dates on the tour. I hope you all can understand. I’m grateful for every single one of you, and I hope that you understand that wellness/mental health is important. All cancelled dates will be refunded asap.”
Here’s the video:
This comes after several fans complained about their underwhelming experience from a Meet & Greet at a recent tour stop. While fans understandably feel upset about an experience they paid extra money for, artists shouldn’t feel subjected to upsell services that conflict with their psyche. In today’s industry, there are plenty of ways to offer different upsell services that fans would value that are far less exhausting for Summer.
Forbes writer Julian Mitchell had an interesting take on a potential solution:
If you’re Summer Walker or on her management team — This would be a great opportunity to explore new ways to deliver a live music experience.
We’re in a time where live shows are becoming truly immersive with AR/VR, live video, production design etc.
Be creative for the fans.
— Julian Mitchell (@AllThingsMitch) November 14, 2019
He’s right. We’re in an era where Lil’ Miquela, a CGI influencer, interviewed J Balvin at Coachella and releases music videos on YouTube. (in my Kevin Garnett voice, Anything is possible!)
Before Summer calls it quits, here are a few options:
- High-priced tickets for intimate concerts (e.g. Sofar Sounds)
- VR/AR concerts and immersive experiences (something I wrote about last year when I covered an event that Lupe Fiasco and Autodesk put on)
Twenty years ago, we saw Lauryn Hill’s career longevity falter because she was forced to follow the standard demands of a young artist on tour while raising a family. It’s a sad reality of the rigidity that existed in the industry back then. But today landscape is far too fragmented for Summer to feel subjected to the standard model.
There’s room for her to succeed in the current system, it just requires a willingness to push the standard concepts and determine what works best for her.