Artist Strategy: “Story Time”


What separates Deadmau5 from Dyro, or Rihanna from Rox? Why do we recognize certain names – certain brands – so well and others maybe not so much? It’s safe to say that talent wise, these artists are comparable; their production or vocal chops alone aren’t enough to propel them to the front of the minds of music consumers. So what is it? What makes Joel and Robyn different and what leads listeners to go to them first for a music fix? If it’s not all about the final product, then why do we as independent artists tend to lock ourselves away in dark bedrooms, littered with discarded bags of Doritos, painstakingly self-producing an EP that embodies months or even years of deliberation and practice, only to post it online to a tepid-at-best response from friends and family? What can we do differently?

We can strategize, of course!

Artists are quick to consider independent and major label business practices decidedly incompatible – but there’s a lot to be learned from the success of the stars and it doesn’t mean lip-syncing or dressing up in a space suit [unless you’re into that].


Intro To Consumer Choice 

The kind academic community of marketing scholars offers an analysis of consumer decision-making that we can apply to the music business. It’s a series of educated guesses regarding why buyers buy what they buy. They have identified a “need,” either functional [serving a practical issue] or psychological [satisfying a perceived desire], as the origin of purchase decisions. These needs include anything from hunger to clothing, sleep to self-actualization and the majority of which can be satisfied quite easily and simply. That is hardly ever the case; what’s known as a ‘want’ complicates the equation and it is that ‘want’ position that music competes for. Since, statistically speaking, the reclusive approach to professional artistry doesn’t tend to achieve that position, it takes strategy.


The main problem lies in artists’ product-centric vs. buyer-centric approaches towards strategy. Ever since Henry Ford’s mantra of ‘any color, so long as it’s black’ dissolved into a sea of possibilities and customizable options, consumers have had the final say. Competition between businesses [or in our case, between artists] encouraged the development of ‘different’, of ‘unique’. The pool of options grew and grew and correlated with a growing importance of consumer choice considerations. Consumers are more empowered than ever. As a result, a savvy business [and a savvy artist] looks just as much to what consumers want as to why they want it.

Strategists that understand this are able to do some very interesting and effective things. For now, I’ll discuss a creative approach to pro-consumer strategy that’s been quite successful for those who have pulled it off.

So, relax. It’s story time.

Trent Reznor

In 2007, Trent Reznor began an incredible promotional campaign for the Nine Inch Nails album, Zero. To begin, he circulated a concert t-shirt [seen below] with a hidden URL included in the shirt’s lettering; his clever fans quickly found the website – “”.


The dilapidated looking site, which portrays a world in which the government sedates and controls the population by invading the water supply with a psychoactive drug called “Parepin”, initiated an extensive network of “eerie voice mail, Web sites, Morse code clues hidden in MP3s and messages buried deep within music videos” all leading up to the release of the band’s record. The promotion brought together fans, created an entirely alternative reality, garnered a massive amount of “earned media”, and made Year Zero one of the most memorable experiences a Nine Inch Nails fan could have.



If there’s to take away from Reznor’s creativity, it’s a lesson in creating value through telling a story. As an independent artist, one may not be in a position to stage an extravagant movement, she can work to engage her fans and involve them in what he or she does whether it be consistently live streaming rehearsals or sharing updates on recording projects. There needs to be something to carry the music – a story, a mindset, a video [ahem… Psy/Baauer] – and augmenting the hard work of a self-produced EP with something more tangible can be the difference between two choices. It can be the difference between Deadmau5 and Dyro.

*NEW* Artist of the Week: BAAUER

The purpose of this blog is to showcase upcoming artists who have either signed with a label or chosen to build their career through a Direct2Fan method.

ALSO KNOWN BY: Captain Harry
BIRTH NAME: Harry Rodrigues

AGE: 22
ORIGIN: Brooklyn, New York, USA

GENRE: Trap and Bass Music
LABEL: LuckyMe Records

TWITTER: 47,706 followers |
YOUTUBE: 1,885,192 video views |
FACEBOOK: 80,983 likes |
SOUNDCLOUD: 62,258 followers |
INSTAGRAM: 11,877 followers |
LAST.FM: 309,197 scrobbles |


Baauer has quickly spread across the US becoming known as the love child of Brooklyn and the Internet. He is an American producer that has cleverly combined the Southern Hip Hop style of bass rhythms with today’s 4/4 dance pop genre.

Before I continue, I would like to acknowledge that I fully recognize that Baauer is not someone who would typically be decribed as an “artist.” He’s a producer, right? Well, if we continued with that perspective, this new genre of music that has emerged (Electronic) would technically never have an “artist” to recognize. We associate artist as the face of a creation/work. Therefore, as the producer of these mixes, Baauer is the associated face of these works, and thus deserves this write up on my blog.

I was first introduced to Baauer last Fall at a house party. The DJ played a song that I vaguely recognized, then I realized it was a remix to a song that I already knew. I was so intrigued by the mix that I asked the DJ who it was. Since technically the artist was Wiz Khalifa, I needed to know who produced the remix. The song was “Rollup.” Check it out!

“Rollup” (Baauer Remix):

After discovering Baauer’s remix of “Rollup,” I didn’t really find it necessary to look more into the producer – at that time. However, he resurfaced through a viral video craze of his new single “Harlem Shake.” Somehow, Baauer doesn’t have an official YouTube Channel that hosts his viral hits, but “Harlem Shake” currently has over 13,500,313 views on YouTube hosted by fungmungus in HD. That same song has over 4,480,084 views on hosted by maddecent. The most popular thirty-second video of a group dancing erotically to “Harlem Shake” has over 18,358,978 views on YouTube hosted by hiimrawn. In total, over 40,000 videos have been uploaded by users with over 175 million views. Interestingly, Baauer said in response to the viral craze “It [was] definitely a total shock, but I see it as a very positive thing now. But to me, it came out of nowhere…It came out at like the end of [last] summer, and now it’s like back again, nine months later.” Check them out!

Baauer “Harlem Shake HD”:

Baauer “Harlem Shake” Video Craze:

Baauer is currently managed by Mixed Management Group in Los Angeles, CA, and he recently signed with LuckyMe Records in Glasgow, Scotland. “Harlem Shake” has reached #1 on iTunes chart and the Billboard Hot 100 with over 262,000 sales in the US and 42,373 in the UK. Check out his response to the sudden stardom in this Interview with Music Talks:

I have grown very fond of Baauer’s music. I never imagined supporting a producer in the way I support other artists that sing and/or rap. I look forward to following the growth of his career. He will surely set a new precedence for producers to be featured in the same light as other celebrities in the enterntainment industry. Stay tuned!

Prayre Finley


“Baauer.” Musicfest NW. Web. 21 Feb 2013.

Buyanovsky, Dan. “Baauer and Just Blaze Get High.” Interview Magazine. Web. 21 Feb. 2013.

Caulfield, Keith. “USA.” United World Chart (2013): Billboard Report (Excerpt). Web. 21 Feb 2013.

Jones, Alan. “United Kingdom.” United World Chart(2013): Music Week Report (Excerpt). Web. 21 Feb 2013.

ollieDJZ. “Baauer | Biography.” CBS Interactive, 20 Feb 2013. Web. 21 Feb 2013.

Stern, Marlow. “Meet Baauer, the Man Behind the Harlem Shake.” Daily Beast. 18 Feb 2013: Web. 21 Feb. 2013.

Trust, Gary. “Baauer’s ‘Harlem Shake’ Debuts Atop Revamped Hot 100.” BillboardBiz. 20 Feb 2013: Web. 21 Feb. 2013.