The point is, breaking through the overwhelming white noise of the Information Age and focusing people’s attention is a key element in any effective marketing campaign.


Kanye West's Success Provides a Blueprint
for the Recovery of a Beleaguered Biz
Can you say huuuuuuuuuge? Can you say huger than huge? Kanye West's magic week has everyone in the industry scratching their heads and wondering what just happened. I was barraged with calls asking me why this happened, how this happened, did this really happen and what it means for all of us. In this case, I think the answer is simple—it was a perfect storm for Mr. West.

First, he’s a well-respected artist who is pulling fans from hip-hop, R&B and pop.

Second his album has hits—real old-fashioned hits.

Third, the album is great, so that the initial buyers (as well as those who heard it when it leaked early) spread the word and sales projections actually kept gaining during the week. It was no one-day wonder, as many albums are these days.

Fourth, not only was West highly visible on the VMAs, he topped it off with a post-show anti-MTV tirade that was picked up by every media outlet in the Western world, putting him in the eye of the news storm that surrounded the Britney Spears performance on the show. West became the anti-Britney—the man who was wronged—as well as the anti-MTV and the media miracle for the week. You couldn’t turn on the TV or go online without catching sight of him. That flood of multimedia exposure enabled the word to get out there that his album was available. The point is, breaking through the overwhelming white noise of the Information Age and focusing people’s attention is a key element in any effective marketing campaign.

And fifth, the additional publicity he garnered from being dissed by the 50 Cent camp—along with Fiddy's media-trumpeted promise that if he failed to beat him, he'd never make another album—added more fuel to the media circus.

So what does this all mean for us?

1. Albums can still sell. (If he can do nearly 1m and Fitty almost another 700k in the same week, then there IS hope!)

2. Great music is always an essential ingredient.

3. Star quality is also necessary.

4. Hit singles never hurt. (Exposure of the right songs on the radio works, no matter what the radio bashers have to say.)

5. Publicity and exposure in all media is a key component. (Credit Messrs. Reid and Bartels and their team here for a job well done.)

6. Strive for greatness and add in all the other elements necessary to get people talking, and winners can still win!

What's your take on Kanye's feat? What does it mean, if anything, for the future of the business? What lessons does it leave us with? Give us your opinion at [email protected].


What Kanye has proven and why is pretty succinctly described by Lenny in his first missive here. Great music, HIT songs, great artist, STAR appeal and terrific marketing plus sense and use of the media, not to mention a great job by the label.

What does it prove? We can still sell records, a boatload of records in this climate if all the components are there. I've held the belief that the true problem caused by the Internet is not piracy and downloading, but it enables the consumers to hear how truly bad a record is before the rush out to buy it.

The real problem is the quality bar became lower than an earthworm's ass and the entire premise of "star" has been relegated to a Carl Sagan PBS special.

Quality music plus star equals sales, always has and always will.Kanye embodies both plus a dash of old school controversy and you get the perfect storm.

Stars used to be someone you wished you were, someone you wanted to emulate, someone you wanted to have sex with (opposite gender applies here, though there are exceptions), someone who was both rebellion and danger, someone different from you.

Not some idiot who looks, walks, talks, smells and eats exactly as you do. As a kid, my walls were adorned floor to ceiling with my heroes photos cut right out of the pages of Circus and Rock Scene.

99% of artists today I wouldn't recognize if they fell over me in a crowded elevator.
Not a STAR to be found. Who the fuck wants to hang a photo of someone who looks exactly like themselves on a wall?

We want the entry into the land of Oz, when black and white turned to color. We want escapism and entertainment, not some wretched three-chord perversion delivered by the same dude who works at Pizza Hut.

Let's not even expound on the current state of creative genius which makes The Seeds sound like Chopin.

Hit songs and a star, not a brilliant deduction but one hell of an equation.

Jack Ponti
Merovingian Music, Ltd.
CazzyDog Management
Visigoth Entertainment Holdings, llc

Kanye is a true recording artist in every sense of the word.
He is not manufactured by a label or producer.
He knows his target audience and how to reach them.
He knows how to craft a great record.
He understands how to put on a great show.
Best of all, he has a record label that understands his vision and supports it. Hats off to Jay, L.A., Steve, Hip-Hop, Al Branch and the Def Jam team for executing. MTV, give Kanye a Moonman. If anyone deserves it, he does!

Max Gousse
Music World


The album and the sales prove that great music, overall sense of showmanship and marketing via word of mouth presents an intriguing situation. This album was more of event status and reshapes the whole hip-hop landscape. To me this was monumental for hip-hop to see a manufactured beef that was friendly and more of a marketing scheme (props to Universal, Def Jam and Interscope) to make this event happen. It also gives Kanye the pride of his city of Chicago, which has always let him down when it comes to sales in previous years. Bravo to Kanye, 50 and HIP-HOP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jamal Hooks/Shabazz


Kanye West is a great artist AND a great marketer. He has an incredible sense of who he is musically and as a personality and what his appeal is to his audience. He pushes buttons with his music and his approach to press, promo and marketing in the digital age--he’s one of the first artists to fully embrace digital by creating multiple videos and embracing the TMZ-type “instant news.” You also left out an important element not lost on this rock/urban music fanhe’s a better performer than 99.99% of his hip -op contemporaries and, citing his Live Earth performance (no hype guy and rapping while running from sideline to sideline at Giants Stadium), a large % of most other current artists. Kanye is the type of artist that makes you anticipate what his next move will be, whether it’s a musical shift, an emotional tirade, a performance, etc… For me, Kanye is about as “rock & roll” as any artist gets.

Todd B. Rubenstein, Esq.
Sciorra, Leaness, Averill & Rubenstein


First I want to say that this is simply a classic hip-hop album that, as you stated, crosses the interest boundaries of R&B, hip-hop and pop. Kanye crafted a brilliant and solid piece of work that has really brought people out of their homes and offices and into the retail outlets. Not to mention those that stayed home and simply downloaded the release. I agree with your comment that great music, hit singles and the right marketing can help make an artist a top seller at retail. Sheer artistry, focus, creativity and innovation are key elements that are pushing this album into a stratosphere--something that we get very little of out of artists these days. Labels are pushing cookie-cutter performers with simple and underdeveloped lyrical content combined with beats from producers that have the power to drive salesit’s just not good enough these days with the change in technology music is facing. Buyers are opting not to physically purchase entire albums containing two good songs when you can just download the two songs and save yourself 10-12 bucks. Kanye put 200% in this project, didn’t overwhelm us with filler songsjust 13 good solid tracks that are already making me wonder, what will he come up with next?

Kenneth Buchanan