I had the opportunity to interview Jaeki Cho (jaekicho.com), Senior Online Editor for XXL. Check out what this creative, hip-hop enthusiast had to say about online marketing, viral videos and more!
1. What tips would you give indie and emerging hip-hop artists for launching and executing a strong online marketing strategy? Be realistic. Assess your manpower and budget. Hiring a publicist can work, sometimes. But you’re not the only one with a publicist. Editors and writers are pitched with a new artist every other day. Over exposing your brand via social network, whether it is YouTube or Twitter, can definitely earn yourself a fan base. Your music can be awful, but you can still earn a fan base. But then the question is, “Are you trying to be a musician or an Internet celebrity?” If you’re trying to be a great hip-hop musician, just make great music. Make sure your visuals (videos and photos) are correct; make sure you keep in touch with the fans; but most importantly, make sure your music’s on point.
2. In your opinion, what are some components for an effective viral marketing video? Personally, a video with very stereotypical elements is boring. Nice cars, beautiful women, slow-motion footage, and grilling faces are great. But why would I watch your low-budget effort when I can watch something with much greater quality released by a major label. What’s really effective is coming up with something completely unique, hilarious, or visually captivating. If you can’t stunt, then use your brain to fulfill that missing void. Or, you can just rap really well. It's simple mathematics.
3. From your observations, who are some indie and emerging hip-hop artists who are or have done an excellent job with online marketing? TDE and Black Hippy, before their deal with Interscope, have definitely put out some outstanding visuals and music that went well with their online marketing. I’m personally impressed by acts like Dumbfoundead, who’s been able to garner a very strong following via YouTube. He was able to create a persona that’s getting more recognition than his music.
4. What are some factors that XXL considers when selecting the “Freshman Class”? I’m not speaking on behalf of my company. Personally, I just think an artist has to be nice, needs to have a buzz, and hints signs of a promising future. Now, there are many artists that don’t shine until later down in their career, and many artists with merely a hot spark. Nobody knows what’s going to happen. But if you’re nice, you’ll get recognized somehow, someway.
5. Besides Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and etc., what are some other social media/ online outlets that indie and emerging hip-hop artists should be utilizing to promote their music and brand? Soundcloud,Tumblr, Instagram, Wordpress etc. If you’re trying to develop a persona, show the people a side of you that doesn’t just involve your music. But once again, if your music sucks, we don’t believe you (you need more people).
*Who are some of your favorite indie and upcoming hip-hop artists? Personally, I am a fan of Rekstizzy. I’m also a fan of Big Baby Gandhi, Alexander Spit, and T-Shirt. Indie guys with various daytime activities that are putting out great music and great packaging.