memo 008: all about expansion

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by Dan Runcie

Every week, Trapital's free memo will give you insights on the latest moves in music, media, and culture. Join 32K+ readers who stay ahead of all the trends:

Each week, this memo gets sent to nearly 6,000 people taking hip-hop to the next level. Trapital covers the business of hip-hop. The goal is to get to 10,000 by the end of December. Join us!

Hey! Big weekend for the NBA. Lakers-Heat Finals! This matchup had 100 to 1 odds in the preseason, but here we are. It’s time for LeBron to get that fourth ring.

This weekly memo is your update on what matters most in the business of hip-hop. This week covers my latest webinar recording, Def Jam’s expansion in Vietnam, podcasts making their way on the big screen, and Issa Rae’s brand extension.

New podcast: the best hip-hop marketing campaigns

The audio and video of my webinar with Michigan Ross professor Marcus Collins is now up! We each shared our list of the top five hip-hop marketing campaigns of all-time.

I won’t spoil the rankings, but some of the picks include… Budweiser Made in America FestivalStraight Outta Somewhere, Reebok in the early 2000s, and Nipsey Hussle’s $100 mixtape. Marcus then shared his favorite campaign that he worked on as an advertising exec. We also talked about Travis Scott-McDonald’s, then took audience questions. We could have went on for another hour honestly. Can’t wait for the next one.

Listen on Apple PodcastsSpotify, or watch the video on YouTube.

Def Jam launches in Vietnam

The 36-year-old record label starts a separate label to invest in the country’s best talents.

This newly formed label is one of six labels under the Def Jam South East Asia umbrella, which includes Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.

Ride the wave. A decade ago, the country’s underground dance scene was more popular than its music, but the focus has shifted. A big moment came in 2016 when Ho Chi Minh City rapper Suboi performed for President Obama during a visit to the country. Vietnamese hip-hop artists have gained more and more momentum. This fall, two new shows “King of Rap” and “Rap Viet” will be the country’s first reality TV shows aired nationally.

Def Jam joins a vast group of Western labels that want in on southeast Asia. Warner and Sony have stepped up their efforts this past year.

Still more opportunity. Emerging artists still need development, which modern record labels focus less and less on. It’s time for the parts of the industry that do focus on development to seize the moment.

Learn more about Vietnamese hip-hop in this nine-minute video from VICE.

Podcasts getting ready for the big screen

The popular Song Exploder podcast will premiere this week as a Netflix docu-series. Spotify and Chernin Entertainment signed a first-look TV and film deal.

An IP goldmine. Podcasts are a perfect source for TV and film projects for good reason: Hollywood is risk-averse. If there’s an opportunity to create projects with valuable IP, a dedicated audience, that hasn’t yet transferred to video yet, producers want in. No one wants to be the executive producer behind a box office blunder like John Carter. Podcasts have some of the freshest IP and loyal followings. Song Exploder’s short, 20-30 min episodes fit well within Netflix’s explainer-style videos. Netflix’s hip-hop reality competition show Rhythm & Flow was a hit. There’s room for plenty more music-related content.

Chernin’s game. The stakes are even bigger for Chernin Entertainment and Spotify. CEO Peter Chernin will sift through Spotify’s original shows for those with Hollywood potential. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Chernin said that Spotify had “the biggest collection—and certainly fastest growing collection —of IP in the universe today.”

In other words, Chernin’s gonna Ford Vs Ferrari the hell outta Spotify’s catalog.

Chernin could make moves with Spotify’s Dissect Podcast, especially since Song Exploder is on Netflix. And if Dissect goes that way, I’m gonna come back on this memo with big “I told y’all” energy. Just wait.

Watch the trailer for Song Exploder on Netflix here.

Issa Rae now co-owns a hair care brand

The Insecure star teamed up with Sienna Naturals to rebrand the company aimed at Afro-textured hair.

A logical extension. Insecure is known for its authentic visuals and attention to detail. Issa’s hair has always been a focal point. The show has done a wonderful job with its cinematography with Black skin, tones, and more. When celebrities become icons for their image, extensions are always inevitable.

Success is still tough. It’s logical, but that doesn’t make it easy. There’s a reason Rihanna’s Fenty products have succeeded where others artists haven’t. Celebrity power is not enough to move products. They still need a product roadmap, go-to-market strategy, low customer acquisition cost, and a product roadmap like the rest of us.

More synergies. The big opportunity for Issa Rae is how to include the product in her myriad of projects. Her synergy map has plenty of offshoots and intersection. Sienna Naturals can get product placement in Insecure, no different than Lyft and Capri Sun have in past episodes.

Issa’s made several moves since I created this synergy map of Issa Rae’s business interests back in April. People have asked for updates, but she Issa makes a new move like every few weeks at this rate. I’ll hold off for now, but I’m keeping track!

Read more about Issa’s strategy in How Issa Rae Became the Modern Mogul.


Kanye announced he will give G.O.O.D. Music’s artists back 50% of the masters he owns, but let’s pause celebration until the artists confirm it’s complete. CreateOS made a record label simulator to help the industry better understand the economics of their deals. Joe Budden’s new podcast network launches with a new show called See The Thing Is…

Trapital Player of the Week: dude from the Fleetwood Mac skateboarding video

This viral video took over social media for good reason. Nathan “DoggFace” Apodaca isn’t your typical TikTok star. He’s a Mexican father of two who lives in Wyoming. He had a huge following, merch shop, and Cameo account well before this video blew up. Most of his videos are with 90s hip-hop songs, but this one with Fleetwood Mac “Dreams” happened to hit.

Fleetwood Mac streams have reportedly jumped 2,000% since the video blew up this weekend. I’ve watched it too many times, and I probably won’t stop anytime soon.

Coming soon… Trapital Mailbag podcast. Text me your questions!

I’m gonna do another Trapital Mailbag podcast in October. Any questions about current news? Anything on your mind about the business of hip-hop? Text me your questions. My number is 415-234-3074.

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My goal is to reach 10,000 subscribers on this list by the end of December. I’m currently approaching 6,000. It’s an aggressive goal, but I think we can get there.

Please send this link to someone who wants to help take hip-hop for the next level

Dan Runcie

Dan Runcie

Founder of Trapital

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