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January 06, 2018

 Chance The Rapper is a bonafide celebrity.

He’s one of the most popular artists out there right now. His music seems to be universally loved and listened to. He’s built a massive following of loyal listeners that freak out as soon as any new music of his comes out, even if it’s just an unproduced sample of an early version of Waves from Kanye’s The Life of Pablo.

How do I know that? Because I’m one of those fanatics of course. New Chance is like Christmas over and over again. At the end of the day, he’s put himself a fantastic position for success.

The crazy part?

Chance The Rapper has never released a single album. 

Now some will argue that his recent hit project Coloring Book was an album he was simply calling a mixtape, but the reality is Chance doesn’t make music with the intention of selling it. In fact, he’s never sold a single track. Everything he creates is made available for free. From his breakout mixtape Acid Rap to Coloring book. There’s no gate. There’s no paywall. There’s no pay-to-listen at all. It’s all up for your enjoyment on Soundcloud.

Why would he do this when he could easily make millions selling albums? The answer is actually quite simple…

A loyal following is more valuable than a handful of one-off sales.

Yeah, Chance is incredibly talented and could’ve gone the conventional route of signing with a label, producing great music, then selling it all, but he wanted to bet on himself. If he could build up a loyal following of people interested in Chance himself, not just his music, he’d be able to monetize it in on his own terms.

He’d also be able to take a much larger cut than the traditional artist would sell albums. As Future of Music found, most artists are only seeing 5% to 15% of each sale. Everybody wants their cut, leaving the artist with far less than they probably deserve.

So now the question is this…

As a marketer, what lessons can you learn from Chance The Rapper and his strategy?

Let’s dive in…

Image: Vanity Fair

1. Provide Massive Value For Free

Chance is huge on the mixtape method. Give away free content to build up a larger fanbase and prove his talent to the world. This mixtape method applies to more than just music.

If you give away something valuable for free, people will notice and they’ll be grateful. If you hide behind paywalls and gated content, people will also notice and be far less likely to care about you at all.

Most of the people who come across you or your business have no idea who you are. They don’t know if you’re credible. They don’t know if you actually know what you’re talking about. They have no proof of your credibility or quality. You haven’t shown them a thing.

Considering that, would you really expect them to open up the wallet right away? Probably not. Your chances of getting that conversion are slim.

What if you’ve already given them some sort of premium content for free or a free sample already? Now that conversion is looking far more likely. You’ve now proven your credibility. They’ve seen what you can do and they like it. All of the sudden that cold sales ask is far warmer.

This is what we marketers call the mixtape method.

Hustle & Grind co-founder Ross Simmonds dropped a post talking about content mixtapes not too long ago that’s definitely worth a read.

Chance has embraced the mixtape model and it’s paying dividends. He gives away his music online to warm up the sales ask. When it comes time for concert tickets to go on sale, his fans can’t get their own quick enough.

As a marketer, if you’re giving away premium value in blog posts or free resources, when you finally start opening sales for premium content, a course, an event, or pretty much anything, your potential customers already know you’re legit and the sales process will be much smoother.

Image: Chicago Tribune

2. Build Up A Loyal Following

If you continue to provide immense value for free, people will start to genuinely like you. After all, everybody likes getting something valuable for free.

Now not only will your lead magnets convert better and allow your email list or social following to grow even more, but that email list and social following will be full of people who actually care about you and want to hear from you.

Of course, a savvy marketer like yourself knows that as your list grows, so does your monetization potential. When you’ve got a massive list, you’ll be able to make more sales. When that massive list is full of people that like you, you’ll make even more sales.

Chance has almost 7 million followers on Instagram alone and a personal brand that’s off the charts. Just imagine the endorsement deals coming across his virtual desk.

You can provide some major value through Instagram and build up a following of your own if you understand how to do it right. If you’re ready to start, check out this advanced guide on Instagram growth to help you get the ball rolling.

The bottom line is this…

Loyalty leads to long-term success.

Build up a loyal following and you won’t have to rely on one-off album sales like some artists. You’ll have people that keep coming back for more.

Image: Chicago Tribune

3. Embrace Your Story & Its Authenticity

When it comes to building that following, don’t be afraid to be you. That authenticity will go a long way in helping you keep your followers engaged long-term.

Chance the Rapper will always be Lil Chano from 79th, no matter how big he gets.

He’s a real person that posts videos of him goofing around with his daughter on Instagram. He’s not afraid to step back from the spotlight and show his true colors. In fact, it’s that authenticity and transparency that continues to help him build up his brand.

His followers get to see him as Chance Bennett the person, not just Chance the hip-hop mogul. Sure, his fans love his music, but they also love him as a person. That personal connection will make your audience like you for you, not just what you do.

Embrace that authenticity and stay true to who you are. You don’t need to fake it.

Image: Billboard

4. Feature Industry Leaders To Increase Reach

Don’t get caught up thinking you need to do it all on your own with no help from anyone else.

It’s possible to make it on the back of talent and hustle alone, just look at J. Cole and Russ. They don’t do features. It’s all them.

Featuring marquee industry leaders will help you increase your reach.

Think about it…

On the very first track of Chance’s Coloring Book, he featured Kanye West. All the sudden, Kanye and his fanbase want to check it out. If they like it, they’ll keep listening. On the second track, he’s got Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz featured. Now the two of them are going to help promote the mixtape and sell their following on it.

Keep going through the mixtape and you’ll find features from JeremihYoung ThugLil YachtyJustin BieberFutureT-PainTy Dolla $ignAnderson Paak, and more. Just like that, Chance has an army of high profile artists with a horse in the race. They want to help him promote the tape because every listen helps their brand as well.

On the flip side, Chance knows that getting himself featured on other projects will have a similar effect. For some Chance fans, the first they heard of him was on Ultralight Beam from Kanye’s The Life of Pablo. That one feature has helped him one-up his loyal following.

He’s jumped on tracks from Big SeanDJ KhaledJohn LegendAction BronsonMacklemore & Ryan LewisKyleChildish Gambino, and a ton more. When each and every one of those songs gets listened to, Chance is being heard and his fanbase is growing.

How does that apply to the marketing world?

Featuring top influencers and guest posting on top publications will help your brand significantly. If you plug an industry leader in your blog post, you can now reach out to them and ask if they’ll give it a share. If they do, your content is now being seen by everyone who follows them and listens to them.

Similarly, if you can get your content featured on a popular publication like Forbes, everyone seeing that content now knows you’re on the map. If it’s high quality, they might check you out. Over time, those guest features will help you build up your following and increase your influence.

Image: Pop Sugar

5. Creative Freedom Is A Big Deal

Since Chance isn’t signed to a record label, he gets to create what he wants to create, and what his fans want to hear.

There’s no label owner telling him how he’s going to sound. If Chance likes how orchestral music sounds in the background, Chance makes a song with orchestral music in the background. If his fans go crazy over a certain sound that he’s producing, he’ll produce more of that sound.

Creative freedom helps you maintain your authenticity as well. If your audience can tell you’re just towing a company line with every word you say, they’ll be gone real quick. After all, people like other people, not just company logos and ‘admins’ publishing the content.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you need to quit your job today and start writing whatever you want to write. I’m just saying you need to seriously look at the language you’re using and the tone you’re rolling with.

Does it seem forced?

Is it awkward and overly corporate?

Is it dry and boring?

If yes, fix it. Creativity and authenticity are key to keeping your audience engaged. Just like how Chance creates what he knows his followers are into, you can do the same. Build up an understanding of your target audience and make sure your marketing efforts match up with what they want.

Image: BET

Now It’s Your Turn…

It’s time for you to step up to the plate and put the Chance marketing methods in place. He’s carved out a huge chunk of the hip-hop industry, and it’s been done mainly through these 5 core ideas. Whether or not he knows it, he’s a brilliant marketer.

So just as a quick recap…

Don’t Be Afraid To Go Against The Grain

Chance is gambling on himself and turning down a $10 million offers with record labels to maintain his creative freedom and independence. So far, it’s paying off big time.

Just because something doesn’t seem conventional, don’t be afraid to run with it. If no one ever challenged the status quo, there’d be no such thing as innovation.

Create Mixtapes Instead Of Just Selling

Focus on value first and foremost.

Don’t try to take right away. Give first, build up your own loyal following, then monetize in the future when you have a list of people who dig what you’re doing. You’d be surprised how far a handful of free resources can take your lead generation efforts…

Start Hustling…

Chance works hard. He works very hard. If you want to become a successful marketer, you need to embrace the hustle. Stay focused on the strategy, but always be willing to put in the work.

If you’re looking for some daily motivation, check out Hustle & Grind on Instagram. Every single day they’re sharing the content you need to see to keep you focused on the hustle.

Of course, if you dig this post give it a share. I’m sure there’s a handful of Chance loving marketers out there that’ll be into it!

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