Hey! Happy Friday. As you know, today is the final Trapital Member update! I will follow up on Monday with more details and next steps. For more context on that change, you can read the explanation here or scroll to the bottom of the email.
Today’s update covers the next steps for the music industry’s #TheShowMustBePaused and Snapchat’s opportunities with Gen Z.
Next Steps for the The Show Must Be Paused
This week, Billboard interviewed the two music executives who started the #TheShowMustBePaused, Brianna Agyemang, and Jamila Thomas. They spoke about what went right, what went wrong, and what’s next.
Here’s a summary:
- The “pause” started #TheShowMustBePaused as a day for both execs to reflect on the deaths of Floyd, Taylor, and Arbery, especially in the middle of a pandemic.
- The #ShowMustBePaused spread quickly, but the message evolved like a game of telephone. “Blackout Tuesday” and the black Instagram squares were not their idea. Those efforts muddled the intent and blocked out the informative #BlackLivesMatter hashtag on social media.
- On the actual day, June 2, they organized a 1,500 person virtual summit with industry professionals to develop a plan. After the summit, several labels made announcements and took action in support.
- Phase 2 will start ASAP and will focus on social justice and systemic racism.
First, let’s breakdown Tuesday, which became a symbol for the “slacktivists.” We all know them. Some of you might be a slacktivist for particular causes. But as annoying as they are to the people who put in the real work—myself included— they still add value.
Part of the reason why the pulse on Black Lives Matter has shifted this time around is due to social media. Instagram and Twitter are social proofing platforms that cause users to question their intentions.
If all your friends are post vacation photos, you’ll want to book one yourself. If your friends post maternity photos, you may start to wonder when you’ll have kids. And if all your friends get involved in a misconstrued social justice campaign on Instagram, you may start to consider your beliefs on the underlying issue.
Personally, I saw black squares posted from people I’ve gotten into heated arguments about BLM in the past. This shift didn’t come from the echo chamber that’s been pushing this since 2014. It came from those who were once silent or resistant, but are now coming around.
I often think back to the Ice Bucket Challenge—another social media initiative with tons of well-deserved criticism. The ALS campaign was a self-indulgent, disproportionately funded phenomenon that wasted tons of water. But the money raised helped scientists discover a new gene tied to the disease. Viral activism has its regrettable issue, but good can come from it.
As mentioned, the next steps for #TheShowMustBePaused will focus on social justice and systemic racism. My interpretation is that social justice will focus externally. The music industry will use its economic power to fight police brutality and other racial injustice that impacts black lives. The power of major record labels and digital streaming providers can galvanize support from many. This can come in the form of donations, activism, and empowerment.
The systemic racism efforts should focus internally. It will force industry execs to look inward and adjust their culture. It will frustrate those who were happy with the way it was before. It will anger those who were on the “career fast-track” under the old culture. It will require tremendous inclusion work to ensure that any new Black execs hired or promoted gets the support they need to thrive.
Historically, systemic racism is the hardest to change. It hides in the “grey area” that is often explained away by those who “don’t see color.” Luckily, both Brianna and Jamila have more momentum than ever to change the narrative. Let’s hope that 2020 continues to shift this.
Why Snapchat Should Team Up with Gen Z Rappers
Yesterday, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel led the company’s 2020 partner summit. He shared some impressive stats that made many folks in tech and VC question past assumptions about the social network.
Ever since Instagram stories copied Snapchat, people left the company for dead. Angry tweets from Kylie Jenner and Rihanna didn’t help either. But it now has 229 million daily active users. To quote the presentation, “Snapchat reaches more people in the US than Twitter and TikTok combined.”
Here’s what I tweeted:
Snapchat has the same advantage Gen Z rappers do.
Since mainstream media members don’t check for it personally, it gets less coverage. But it keeps growing, gets stronger.
Then it has a moment and the media says “damn, this is bigger than we thought!”
It’s like clockwork.
— Dan Runcie (@RuncieDan) June 11, 2020
When younger artists like Lil’ Tecca, NLE Choppa, and Lil’ Uzi Vert have big moments, the same thoughts arise. Hip-hop media is more favorable to the older artists it personally enjoys. But that doesn’t mean those artists are bigger than the ones that they cover. They might lose media coverage, but they gain more direct fandom—especially if it’s on a platform that media outlets pay less attention to. Ideally, Snapchat has a great opportunity to partner more with Gen Z’s rising rappers.
Venture capitalist Turner Novak wrote an analysis and recap of Snap’s summit and growing business. I’ve highlighted a few opportunities where hip-hop artists can get involved.
Snap Originals: Content is a big opportunity. If 51-year-old Will Smith can succeed with a Snapchat show, then rappers who are one-third his age should be fine.
Snap Games: I just wrote a few weeks ago about how hip-hop and gaming are scratching the surface. Age and gender were huge opportunities. That bodes well for Snapchat, whose audience is 61% women.
Snap Minis: This tool allows friends to engage with other apps together. Early partners include Headspace, and agents for movie tickets, concerts, and voter registration. There’s a future where fans use this app to create a more interactive version of Ask Me Anythings between fans and artists.
Admittedly, I am one of those who overlooked Snapchat in recent years. I’m a little older than the target demo, most of my friends don’t use it, but that shouldn’t stop me from following along. There’s a big opportunity here. Let’s hope it lasts longer than DJ Khaled’s moment from a few years back.
Upcoming changes to Trapital:
1. Trapital’s membership will focus primarily on community engagement and data resources. In each survey I read, email read, and conversation with you all, I often hear that the biggest value-adds are engaging with the Trapital community and the data resources I had initially pitched at the beginning of 2020. To date, our Slack group attracts a few, but I can do more on the community front, especially since we can’t convene in person. Also, I have only publicized the Rap Investor List as a resource, and want to get the others to you as soon as I can.
Based on that, I will soon sunset the Monday and Friday Member Updates. A select few of you read every update, but most of you enjoy the free weekly deep dives and podcast more than those Monday and Friday updates. I had to make a change. Instead of continuing that pattern for another year, I want to refocus that time into what’s most valuable.
In full transparency, this will also give me more time to serve more consulting and advisory clients (learn more here if interested), and to grow Trapital further.
Here’s what to expect:
- More hip-hop-related data resources like the Rap Investor List on various other topics. I’ve heard many of the suggestions, but I’m open to others too. Reply to this email if you have requests
- More virtual meetups and hangouts. We did a COVID-19 related meet-up in March. My goal is to make these monthly. I’m aware that not “everyone” will attend these either. But the value-add will be greater for those who can, and that’s what matters
2. Trapital memberships will become Annual only. Existing monthly subscribers will be grandfathered in at current rate. A lot of work goes into data resources. The $10 / month tier had too much churn to justify the time and effort put into these resources. The one-year commitment will also attract those most interested in the community.
These changes will happen over the next few weeks. I’ll likely share more in a longer post, but wanted to give you all a heads up.
If anyone has any questions or concerns, please reply to this email and let me know.