The announcement that rapper Mac Miller will be the featured artist for the Ohio Union Activities Board’s Big Free Concert further represents the changing of the prototype for how to make it big in the music industry. And few artists are as in touch with these new trends as Miller.
Miller, along with Skrillex, the dubstep DJ, are set to perform at 6 p.m. May 12 on the South Oval at OSU, OUAB’s concert chair Courtney Chow said.
But what sets Miller apart from his other popular musical peers is the way he gathered his large and ever-growing fan base over time.
Miller reached his point of popularity by breaking barriers and using the Internet to his advantage as an artist, whereas other artists have shied away from the big, bad World Wide Web.
The Internet has become an all-in-one-stop shop for nearly everything in our lives. News, shopping and social experiences can all be found on the internet. Music is no different. While the radio often feels like it is playing the same five songs over and over again, undiscovered or under-appreciated talent is simply a search away on the Internet.
I realize I am not breaking any new ground by telling you that music can be found on the Internet. But where artists used to fight this trend, worrying about losing the revenue streams that come from radio plays and CD sales, many artists have begun to use the Internet as a way to market themselves to fans. Miller has done this as well as any.
In hip-hop especially, bloggers hold a great amount of influence to those using the Internet to seek out their music. Establish a good relationship with these blogs and your music becomes more accessible to your fans. Miller has done this with a personality that engages his audience. As he often likes to say, “I’m just a kid.”
Fans, especially young fans in college without much money, want music that they do not have to pay for. So what is a good way to connect to those fans and build a following amongst that group? Release lots and lots of free music through the Internet. With seven free mixtapes available for digital download in addition to numerous singles made available at no cost, Miller was able to build a fan base over the years by providing easily accessible, quality music.
The next step to building your followers is interaction with your fans. Twitter has provided fans with a direct line to their favorite celebrities, and a celeb that frequently interacts with those fans is sure to only create a more devoted following to his work. Case in point: Mac Miller and his more than 2 million Twitter followers. Miller would make a habit of releasing a free song every time he hit a milestone number with his followers. By making himself more accessible to his followers, an underground musical artist can slowly start to make his way up to the top of mainstream music charts.
So what does this all add up to? Consider the fact that Miller’s debut album, released last fall, became the first independently released album to chart at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 since 1995, and it becomes obvious that the internet is a legitimate marketing tool for musicians.
A major record label deal is no longer a prerequisite for high record sales. With a good work ethic, a relatable personality and a keen understanding of the market you are trying to sell to, artists can make a name for themselves with the help of the internet. Mac Miller is a part of a trend that will only continue to grow.