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10.22.07 08:14 PM

A Study: Soulja Boy and Web Marketing & Distribution, but Don't Forget Radiohead

Ever since I first wrote my post on Black Web 2.0, "Hip-Hop 2.0: Soulja Boy Is A Web 2.0 Wonder," I began to notice a flurry of conversation taking place on the Web about how the artist employed the next generation Web model for digital distribution and digital marketing to launch his career.

A few years ago, 2002 to be exact, I predicted such a future when I spoke on a panel -- "Black Music Technology" -- at the American Studies Association Annual Meeting. The paper I presented, "Hip-Hop's Transformers: Technologies of Production and Distribution in Hip-Hop," was kind of all over the place. I had the technologies and production part down, but the distribution part was a little weak. The only example we had at the time was Chuck D, and it wasn't very successful -- not yet, especially because we hadn't yet heard of "The Long Tail." One of my panel members even told me she didn't see that the Web would be a viable distribution channel any time soon. Perhaps it was just too early to tell.

Clyde Smith at ProHipHop follows up my post at Black Web 2.0 with "Hitwise Called Soulja Boy's Success Back in May." I had been thinking about writing about Soulja Boy for a while now, but it wasn't until I read about the conversation at Web 2.0 that I really got around to doing it. And I still haven't written about it the way I want to. I'm guessing that we'll see some scholarly articles and white papers about this all, from a variety of sources, very soon.

As for Radiohead, Patricia Martin, author of the powerful new book, RenGen: Renaissance Generation: The Rise of the Cultural Consumer and What It Means to Your Business, blogged last week about why the Radiohead experiment is working. She wrote:

"Two weeks into the experiment, the band Radiohead is getting traction with its RenGen pricing stunt. First, the band cracked through the media clutter, earning instant notoriety for its pay-what-you-want pricing model for its latest release. They’ve broken new ground--making passion for their music the new currency. The band is also building a community of fans who feel empowered when they vote with their dollars for the music. Their story has lessons for all of us about how to build a brand in the RenGen:"

More of this lesson, here.

More info on the RenGen:

"This book explores the emergence of a generation on the verge of a second renaissance. Years into the knowledge economy, we no longer live our daily lives in a twilight zone of change. Who we are and what we care about are taking clear shape. There is a powerful player at the center of this transformation -‑ the cultural consumer. These are thinking, expressive individuals with an emerging set of imperatives, behaviors and ambitions that will set the agenda for society."

Business is really changing, and not just the media and entertainment businesses either. The old stalwarts need to wake up from their sleep or the younger, creative, risky business takers are not only going to continue disrupting -- they're going to win the game. I see a bubble on the horizon, but after it bursts, the players in charge of how we consume information and entertainment are going to change dramatically.

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