EDM.com Spotlight

EDM.com Spotlight

How To “Hack Culture” to Build a Successful Music Career


One question that is constantly on people’s minds is, “How do I get a successful music career?” 

With physical CD sales on the decline, and an extremely saturated market of electronic music producers to compete with, the ability to “stand out from the crowd” is an extremely important attribute towards gaining recognition for your talent.

Gone are the days when you can upload an original song or remix to Soundcloud, and for it to get millions of plays with minimal marketing. Although many people are turning towards YouTube promotion channels as a way of marketing their music, I’m going to explain why hacking culture is undeniably the best way forward – if you wish to be successful. 

After all, we would all love to be stars of Hollywood someday…

I can almost see the stars :) #hollywoodlife

A post shared by Tep No (@tepnomusic) on

Before you can even consider entering the music industry full-time, you have to question your mindset - as this will either be your blessing or curse. If you are determined, willing to succeed, and persistent, then you’ve got a good start.

Every day, we all have the same amount of time to complete activities: 24 hours. If you get 8 hours sleep, what are you doing with the other 16? If you’re playing Xbox or watching Netflix, you’re wasting your time. Instead, spend every minute of your time (that you are able to) perfecting your craft and generating contacts within the entertainment industry.

“Culture” is essentially regarded as different human achievements and behaviours within society. Whether it’s Picasso, Beethoven, Stormzy or Majestic Casual, everyone within the entertainment industry over the past few hundred years has had an influence on people due to their actions within the arts. And so if you are able to hack culture and immerse yourself in the centre of everybody’s attention, you’re going to be fairly successful.

The best advice that I could give to anyone is to simply be thinking ahead. If you’re just reacting to trends, you’re only going to be as good as the person you’re reacting to. If you’re able to create trends and have people follow you, you have a much higher chance of becoming successful. Basically, if you want to be an anomaly, act like one. Think ahead of the market and anticipate future trends. For example, many people are turning their attention to online streaming sites such as Netflix instead of watching television. So instead of paying $3,500 for a campaign to get your song on CBS or FOX, your dollars are much better spent on campaigns with production studios such as Amazon, Apple, and Netflix. After all, that’s where people’s attention is.

Over the next 5 years, many companies will move resources to the entertainment industry as a way of becoming part of modern day culture. Eg. I can quite comfortably predict that Starbucks will bring out a record label for lounge & chill music - like what you’d find in their stores. Don’t believe me? They already have a large Spotify playlist which is gaining loads of traction:

My point is that both companies & individuals are noticing a shift in traditional culture. Traditional advertising methods such as television & billboards are no longer the most effective way of providing engagement with consumers. Instead, social media is taking prominence within society due the current advancements in technology. This leads me nicely onto my next point: social media influencers.

Without a shadow of a doubt, this is the next generation of marketing tactics. Whether you like it or not, it’s happening. Influencer marketing does exactly what it says on the tin: using people with cultural influence to advertise your product or brand.

Spending 30-50 hours researching the algorithms and influencers of each platform will put you in a great place to marketing your songs. Even creating a spreadsheet of influencers and their contact details may help you to be more efficient in executing your strategy.

Obviously there’s Facebook & YouTube influencers which people pay a lot of attention to. Getting your song in the background of a video which gets a lot of views is extremely beneficial for gaining leverage and recognition. But how do you get these so-called influencers to use your song? Provide value to them. That’s it.

This may be in the form of a monetary payment, or providing services for free (such as doing some graphic design). But if you’re able to provide value to them upfront, there’s a much higher chance of them wanting to help you out in return.

A good example of influencer marketing is Kygo’s promotion plan for his newly released single “Kids in Love.” Asking a range of celebrities the first time they fell in love, Kygo is immediately appealing to audiences of multiple demographics. Including the likes of The Chainsmokers, Vin Diesel, and Vine star, Logan Paul, the marketing plan for “Kids in Love” is extremely effective due to the fact that they are using influencer marketing at scale.

#KidsInLove @loganpaul 🤙🏼

A post shared by Kygo (@kygomusic) on

I’m going to go into further depth about different social media platforms during a future article. But just remember that the digital music industry is constantly evolving. It’s similar to the idea of you being the owner of a local CD store the day before Spotify decided to get serious. Adapt to the changing times and you will be successful. Period.