Business lessons from rapper Russ

Last week, I talked about a new found student whom I mentored over the phone. She was starting a beauty business. I made public the tips I gave her so that most of the frequently asked questions around the same topic can get answers.

Thanks to everyone who wrote to me through my social media platforms. Write to me on any of my social media platforms with any business issue that you need help with. I will gladly tackle it.

Remember the article I talked about customer care and always responding to customers’ issues? Well, this is your time to test the professor.

Today’s lesson is picked from the book according to Russ. Russ is an independent American rapper, whose business prowess has inspired my business acumen. 

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Being an independent artiste means he is not signed to any major label. 

This means he has more control of his music and the revenue share stays within his circle of people who have helped make the music.

That is unlike others in the hip hop community - the Jay Zs and the Diddys - who admitted in interviews with the Godfathers of the hip hop communities that had they known how the system works, they would not have signed to recording labels.

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In addition, we are seeing a lot of established artistes buying their masters and rights to their music back from the recording labels they were signed to.

Russ was listed as one of the rising wealthy artistes of this generation by Forbes and he has invested in diverse spaces and industries.

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While it might sound and look easy to be an independent artiste, how did Russ make it?

Act local, think global

I am sure most of you are hearing of Russ for the first time. I have followed his music career for as long as I can remember.

Believe me when I say that he has mastered the art of capitalising on and growing small crowds. The guy tours the world and has a fan base everywhere he goes.

He knows what his audience wants and gives them just that. He understands that his fans are his customers. So his target market is very defined.

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Be consistent

Beyond knowing his audience, he is consistent with his content. The only way your fans will grow with you is if you are consistent.

I always give this example; imagine three of your customers or fans are talking about three different brands or artistes. Does your customer/fan have enough points to fight for you when questioned on why they chose your product or service?

In the same way, when you dine at a good restaurant, what stands out about the restaurant?

Independent doesn’t mean alone

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Being an independent artiste doesn’t mean you are doing everything by yourself.

It means that your team is helping you be the best version of yourself.

For instance, I am good at building strategies and writing lyrics. My manager’s strength lies in execution. If he doesn’t play his role, then I fail. If my strategy is wrong, not even my A-class manager can salvage the imminent bad results.

Remember, this reflects on you as a brand and as a team. 

Even as my manager’s strength lies in execution, we need to have our vision aligned in order to be successful. Only then can we create something worth the customers time and money.

This does not mean that you will not fail. Fail you will. Many times.

I have come to realise that the fear of failure is the reason we don’t have many young businesses. No one said it will be easy. With this is mind, less and less youth are willing to fail to create the learning ground.

That’s why many of them play safe and automate themselves into systems that already exist rather than creating new waves.

The writer is an award-winning artiste and entrepreneur.

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