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Hey. First things first, my thoughts are with Jeremih who’s in the ICU with COVID-19, Benny The Butcher who was shot in the leg, and Boosie Badazz who was also shot in the leg. Sad news. Get well soon.
This Trapital memo is your breakdown on the latest in the business of hip-hop. This week is about my latest podcast interview, Beyonce and Peloton, The Weeknd and the Super Bowl halftime show, Lil’ Nas X and Roblox.
new podcast: Dave Macli, co-founder of Audiomack and DJBooth
Audiomack is an artist-first digital streaming provider. In this episode, Dave breaks down why he launched Audiomack, how the company landed early projects by J. Cole and Chance the Rapper, and its expansion plans in Africa. Dave is also the co-founder of DJBooth, which recently partnered on Audiomack World—a publication within the music streaming service.
If you’re wondering why streaming services (and record labels) are more interested in media companies, this is a must-listen. Audiomack is living proof of this.
Why Beyonce is the perfect Peloton partner
Last week, Peloton announced a multi-year partnership with Beyonce AKA Blue Ivy Carter’s mother.
A perfect match. Queen Bey is the perfect Peloton partner for two reasons:
- She’s the most-requested artist on the platform. Music is a core part of the Peloton experience. If the music isn’t right, Peloton users will let the company know. The company has spent millions in lawsuits and licensing agreements to get it right. For Peloton, this Beyonce partnership is both a cause for celebration and a sigh of relief.
- She’s the ideal Peloton customer. Let’s forget about her near billionaire-status for a minute. Beyonce fits the profile of Peloton’s target customer:
– Millennial parent with young kids
– Work schedule has been disrupted by COVID-19
– Still busy AF
The best celebrity partnerships are those products that people assume the celeb already uses. Beyonce said she’s been a Peloton customer for the past two years, which is easy to believe.
Here’s one of Peloton’s most recent commercials with a busy adult juggling it all. Peloton should do one of these with Beyonce! But the commercial shouldn’t feature Bey the entertainer. It should feature Bey the wife, mother, daughter, and friend who “got real problems just like you.” She dropped that lyric in Everything Is Love, and has reminded us of it in several interviews.
HBCU Connect. As part of the deal, Peloton is giving free two-year digital memberships to students at 10 HBCUs. Beyonce worked closely to create Homecoming-themed workout experiences. The plan is to build a recruiting pipeline for these schools at the intern and undergrad levels.
Read more about Beyonce’s Peloton partnership from the official press release.
Why The Weeknd got picked for the Super Bowl Halftime Show
Last week, Pepsi announced that The Weeknd will headline the Pepsi Super Bowl Halftime Show in Tampa, FL on February 7, 2021.
An accurate prediction. In 2019, I predicted that J. Lo would be the halftime show performer well in advance. I did the same this year when I predicted The Weeknd. That’s two straight years. At first, I said that makes me the Black Nate Silver. But Nate Silver hasn’t got the Electoral College right since Obama so I take that back.
The Roc Nation strategy. I predicted The Weeknd because of Roc Nation, which partners with the NFL on entertainment. At last year’s Roc Nation – NFL press conference, Jay Z was critical of the prior selection process for two reasons.
- The NFL used to interview several performers at the same time, pick one, and tell the others “thanks but no thanks.” Sure, that process works fine when Google’s hiring 53 program managers. But that process is bad for roles with limited talent pools. There are only so many superstars! The league may have already burned bridges with those they led on, which makes it easy to get stuck with subpar options.
- Jay Z said he didn’t like when Travis Scott played second-fiddle for Maroon 5 because Travis Scott dominated 2018. Jay Z is more likely to want a current superstar than a legacy act.
I assume there’s a hypothetical rubric that measures all these factors and others:
- superstar popularity (e.g. will tens of millions watch? is the artist timely? have they peaked? legacy act?)
- entertainment factor (can they put on a good show?)
- availability / interest (have they done it yet? would they be interested? any burned bridges?)
- external factors (relevant to broader societal issues, NFL’s Inspire Change?)
- location (any superstars from this area? what is the region’s music culture represents?)
The Weeknd checks most boxes. He’s had the biggest year in pop music and has used his platform to raise awareness for Black Lives Matter after George Floyd’s murder.
We know that Rihanna, Cardi B, and Jay Z have all turned down past performances. My gut tells me that Taylor Swift and Drake may have been asked before, but might have got burned by the original process, had scheduling conflicts, or potentially weren’t interested. Those artists will be in the running for a while but might take some time.
Read more about The Weeknd’s success in How The Weeknd Mastered his Brand.
LEVEL: unpack the most pressing cultural news
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Lil’ Nas X on Roblox
Last week was the first concert series in a new partnership between Roblox and Columbia Records.
Eight months in the making. Columbia and Roblox have been in talks since the pandemic started. The major record label thought Lil’ Nas X would be great since over half of US kids play the game. The game draws over 150 million monthly active users.
The digitally rendered Lil Nas X took the stage to play his hits and release a new single “Holiday”—his first in over a year. He performed four shows total this weekend, with “stops” in Asia and Europe. Roblox hasn’t released any numbers yet, but hopefully they do! It would be great to see how it compares to Travis Scott’s 28 million viewers on Fortnite.
Roblox’s future. This online video game has gotten more and more popular with kids. Last month, Roblox confidentially filed to go public, and hopes to land an $8 billion valuation. Roblox developers are on track to earn $250 million this year and shows no signs of slowing down. The pandemic has been a silver lining since its target audience (kids) have spent more time indoors in 2020 than ever before.
Who’s next? This Columbia-Roblox partnership should continue, which means future Columbia artists may get their own Metaverse experience. The most likely ones are Chloe X Halle, Harry Styles, Jaden Smith, and Lil’ Tjay. My ten-year-old nephew is the biggest Lil’ Tjay fan I know. He’ll be pumped if that ever happens!
Read more about hip-hop and gaming here.
Trapital Players of the Week: Gucci Mane and Jeezy
These two rivals will face off on Thursday for an epic Verzuz battle. The Gucci-Jeezy beef spans decades. Verzuz hits its peak viewership when there’s legit animosity between the two acts. People tuned into Brandy and Monica just to check the chemistry, and this will be no different.
I’m glad both rappers agreed to this. Thursday should be fun! Jeezy will win (TM101 is too deep), but Gucci will make it competitive.
And if you haven’t yet, read The Autobiography of Gucci Mane. I listened to the audiobook and loved it. He breaks down the Jeezy beef in more detail.
Coming soon from Trapital
- Trapital reader survey. Later this week, I will send you a brief survey to learn more about you and get your feedback to make Trapital even stronger in 2021!
- Interview with Cameo CEO Steven Galanis. This company has blown up in 2020. Steve and I talk about why so many rappers joined the video-sharing platform, and what’s on deck for next year. Go subscribe to Trapital wherever you get podcasts!
Have a good week! If you haven’t yet, go read my latest essay on what the ringtone rap era can tell us about where the music industry is heading in the 2020s. Read here.