A few weeks ago the drum & bass scene was riling from an update that Welsh MC / rapper Mr Traumatik posted on his social media pages which allegedly contained homophobic content (For clarity I didn’t see the post as it was swiftly deleted).
For the next few days, as you’d expect, there were posts from D&B fans & industry heads calling for him to be cancelled. Cancel culture seems to be the norm these days especially on social media, it’s the practice of mass withdrawal of support from a public figure or celebrity who’s done something that isn’t socially accepted.
I watched this drama unfold and, as someone who takes an active interest in music marketing & promotion, I knew that whatever Mr Traumatik had said it wasn’t going to be as easy to cancel him as the keyboard activists had initially thought.
A mere 3 weeks later I was proved right, after being cancelled Mr Traumatik announced new tour dates, dropped a new track aptly titled ‘Cancelled’, which directly addressed the controversy and promptly gained him tens of thousands of plays on both Spotify & YouTube!
3 Lessons For Success In The Music Industry
While I most definitely don’t condone the things Mr Traumatik allegedly said, the way he does business as an independent artist is a master class in how to survive in the music industry in this day and age. He’s making a living from music when many are struggling to make ends meet with the pittance that streaming services pay.
I’m going to highlight 3 lessons for success in the music industry, things that I see Traumatik putting into practice. A strategy that has kept Mr Traumatik going despite the angry mob with pitchforks banging on his door!
1. He Found His Niche
The internets reaction to Mr Traumatik saying something controversial was to be outraged… BUT anyone who’s ever listened to his music will know that saying outrageous things is completely on brand for him. It’s his thing!
He’s found a niche, his audience listen to hear the tongue in cheek humour in his lyrics and to be shocked by the subjects he raps about.
That audience has supported his last 10 albums & gains him almost a million streams a month on Spotify!
2. He Owns His Music
The thrust of cancel culture is to highlight the wrongs someone is doing and to put pressure on the people enabling them to withdraw their support. Granted a few promoters pulled Traumatik tour dates so it clearly had some effect, but all the pressure in the world was never going to get him dropped by his record label.
While a record label is the gateway for a lot of artists to get their music released (as well as being a great quality control filter between artist & audience), in Mr Traumatik’s case he’s been self releasing his music pretty much since he burst onto the scene via his own Multidimensional Music imprint.
He’s his own boss, he owns the music he releases. There is no one above him dictating his destiny or stopping him from earning money from his back catalogue.
3. He Owns His Audience
While social media is an important platform for any artist to share their music with their audience, it’s not the only way to get the message out there.
As previously mentioned, Traumatik has self released over 10 albums, many of these were sold directly to his fans via his own website.
As such he has his customers data in order to contact them when new music drops. This section of fans are his most important, they’re the people who spend money on his music, merchandise & buy tickets to his shows.
With the way platforms like Facebook restrict the reach of posts in order to encourage more advertising, having direct contact with your customers is essential.
How many artists lost their audience when MySpace disappeared? Twitter seems to be heading the same way since Elon Musk’s takeover. UK grime artist Wiley got universally dropped from social media platforms. Rapper Kanye West has fallen out of favour with the gatekeepers at Instagram for violating the platform’s policies. Even Donald Trump, a former President of the United States, got banned from Twitter!! It doesn’t matter how big your social media following is, you don’t own your audience on those platforms.
Mr Traumatik getting cancelled off Facebook wouldn’t effect his income too much as his die hard fans will still be getting messages in their email inbox from him.
Takeaway Tips For Independent Artists
Hopefully you can learn a few lessons from Mr Traumatik? Firstly it’s never cool to say homophobic things, neither on the internet or in real life. Remember our drum & bass / jungle music scene was born at Rage, a club night that was hosted at Heaven, one of the UK’s longest running gay clubs!! What made the rave scene so special was it’s inclusivity, for bringing people together regardless of colour, creed, sexuality, culture or what football team you supported!!
Career wise, as an independent music artist you need to find your niche, your unique sound. Once you do that your resonant audience will find you.
Own your music, if you can build a career as a musician, producer, rapper or vocalist then your music is a continuous source of income.
Own your audience. This is the most important factor for success in the music industry… Nurture a relationship with the people that like your music and learn to connect with them regardless of changes in social media algorithms.
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