This blog article has been updated with comments from Ryan Glover (RG), a manager and owner of RGM Production Ltd – http://ryangloveronline.com/.
I want to plug a song I have been loving recently: Let It Go // Wiggy, which was described to me as dancehall meets modern R&B. If you listen, you’ll hear another artist on the track (Jordan Morris) who sings while Wiggy raps. Sometimes I think on tracks which have a rapper and a singer, the transitions between the artists can sound awkward but I liked the flow of Let It Go.
Let It Go from Wiggy’s EP, Prelude: https://open.spotify.com/track/45FDrd0WIDlrGVjzKnn3dd?si=HqMJH-aAQKmmqnKFt3E4Ow
Socials: WiggyOfficial on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, website = www.wiggyofficial.uk
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Who is Cardi B?
Including NYFW fights with Nicki Minaj, Cardi B has done a lot in recent years to become a “global phenomenon” in the music industry (Saponara, 2018). This year, she released debut album ‘Invasion of Privacy’, gained her second #1 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop songs chart and became the first woman with five simultaneous top 10 hits.
2017 saw the rapper release Bodak Yellow, the first #1 record by a solo female rap artist since 1998 (Lauryn Hill) and the song of the summer (Saponara, 2018). Cardi signed to Atlantic records and was the only woman nominated for both Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song at the Grammy’s (Glamour, 2018). A year prior Cardi released her second mixtape and left reality TV show Love and Hip Hop.
But what truly set off Cardi’s path was her presence on social media app Instagram. Social media technology features in almost all of my articles, causing major change in the music industry which is predicted to both continue and strengthen.
Cardi showed her “humoungous” personality, which made the internet fall in love with her “straight-talking videos” (Glamour, 2018), twerking and “regular degular Bronx girl antics” (Madden, 2018). As with any social media personality/influencer (see here and here) Cardi was the topic of memes, gifs and tweets.
Was Instagram more influential in Cardi’s career than a manager would have been?
Instagram has over 400 million users (Turner, 2018) and is one of the more influential social media apps in music because it is known to allow music discovery, promotion, announcing releases and testing reactions to new music (Hernandez, 2016). IG works closely with the music industry to exploit their “unexpected” importance (Tiltow, 2017). Some fun facts:
4/5 of the most followed accounts are musicians
more than 1/3 of users follow 10+ musicians (Tiltow, 2017)
A musician’s manager creates new opportunities, generates paid work, grabs attention and commands respect (Elkabas, 2013) within a chosen field, among other things. Instagram fulfilled these roles for Cardi, and because of how important the app has become in the music industry, was Instagram a better tool in Cardi’s career than a manager could have been?
Is Instagram all that?
Instagram, while fun to use, isn’t a miracle worker and a social media app cannot replace a human. Instagram can’t do accounting, make decisions (McDonald, 2017), negotiate deals and work with people (Elkabas, 2013) as a manager does. Even the tasks Instagram can ‘do’ could probably be improved by a manager’s human touch.
But, let’s explore Instagram as a manager in Cardi’s career:
Creating new opportunities
Cardi’s IG fame created a fanbase (Saponara, 2018) and led to her appearance in Love and Hip Hop (Glamour, 2018). Cardi was recording and releasing music while on the show and left to continue this. Therefore, her appearance allowed her to “grow her followers and plan her next move” (Saponsara, 2018). And this worked, paving the way to further get into the music industry and land a record deal.
RG: But ultimately who landed that record deal? Cardi or a manager / lawyer. Landing a deal, negotiating a deal is something Instagram can not do. The manager is key within securing these deals wether that be a record deal, clothing deal or sync deal.
Like others, Cardi built and used a following in one field to create opportunities elsewhere. And we’ve all seen this eg Love Island contestants becoming brand ambassadors.
Managers have more industrial experience than musicians (usually), knowing who to work with. They can help musicians with contracts for new partnerships, avoiding eternal debt or exploitation.
Becoming Instagram famous can secure sponsorships/#ads where brands use your platform to enhance their awareness (see here). Cardi’s IG profile seems ideal for #ads; she quickly racked up millions of followers with her contagious personality, so shouldn’t securing paid work through IG have been easy?
Brands were initially resistant to Cardi (Madden, 2018), but she finally worked with taxi service Lyft and Steven Madden shoes once Atlantic’s managerial help stepped in. But with her recent NYFW fights, she has been called ‘unprofessional’ and the music industry is said to have turned against her. A manager could work on damage control.
Grabbing attention & commanding respect
Cardi was a natural at attracting attention (Madden, 2018). However, is it true that all publicity is good publicity? Not in Cardi’s case, where her content may have limited the ability to command musical respect. During meetings, clients wanted Cardi to “talk about that one time she said this”, and her representatives needed to “bring the conversation back to music” (Madden, 2018).
This shows exactly how important managers are. Without a manager, a musician who is just expressing themselves for a living without having the long-term business perspective of a manager might take on these opportunities. A manager ensures a balance between self-expression and business/long-term thinking, given music is a career and ideally progression and money are desired.
RG: My main role as a Music Manager / Artist Developer is to keep artists on track. Artists so easily sway from one thing to the other especially unsigned artists as they are looking for any given opportunity but usually do not think it through and think of the long term effects. A Manager will keep the train on the track no matter the situation.
Music managers are important and forever we’ll be. We ultimately run your day to day business which an artist should not want to be running. The Artist should solely be focusing on making music and progressing with their artistry. Worry about your next hit song, not your next business move. Leave that to the suit and ties.
The future of the music industry and Instagram/IGTV
IG are continuously working to increase their music industry involvement, introducing a musician’s own filter with Ariana Grande and Jaden Smith’s ‘Electric’ being released exclusively though new service IGTV.
This is labelled as YouTube’s much-needed competitor, with vertical video content up to 1 hour long. Cardi’s videos might have done well if the platform was around.
I think IGTV will try and compete with Vevo, the home for music videos on YouTube, because of their current music industry importance and connections; I have already seen a musician debut a music video on IGTV (Victoria Monet). Soon, it will be a race to secure exclusive deals between the two (Resnikoff, 2018).
There are many predictions about IGTV, but a lot is unknown when trying to assess IGTV’s potential: whether it will ‘take off’, last or fail.
This video summarises everything nicely:
- IGTV is untapped territory: should content creators quickly establish themselves as an IGTV-er?
- IGTV doesn’t monetise content like YouTube (this is ‘coming soon’). Should content creators work for free until then?
- How will monetisation (presumably through ads) change the viewing experience?
- IGTV has technical issues: will these be resolved to compete with/exceed YouTube’s funcionality?
And finally, the linking of IGTV and IG accounts is problematic. There are said to be uploading restrictions based on your followers, which is unfair. Someone with a smaller following would have to work harder to build up their IGTV view count compared to someone who already has 100,000 followers.
This person may believe they can upload anything onto IGTV, knowing this will be pushed out to 100,000 people. If even 10% watch this, there are 10,000 views. But someone with 100 followers is likely to put in more work, understanding the need to attract attention. (See here for why this is likely to negatively impact IGTV video quality).
To wrap things up, big things should be coming for Instagram. Considering I want my own music marketing business, I like that Instagram are aware of how boring social media music marketing has become.
They don’t want musicians to simply re-post content used elsewhere nor have overly promotional marketing (Tiltow, 2017), but brainstorm creative strategies instead (Tiltow, 2017). I personally feel like most people are still taking the easy route (something I recently tweeted RE: MNEK’s recent fiasco).
So, Instagram, record labels and artists, if you need help developing new social media strategies, you know where to find me.
SOURCES: https://www.thebalancecareers.com/music-artist-manager-2460745, https://www.theguardian.com/careers/what-does-a-music-manager-do, https://www.musicbusinessworldwide.com/is-instagram-about-to-become-the-music-industrys-new-best-friend/, https://www.billboard.com/articles/business/7256283/nielsen-music-study-instagram-impact-artists-sales, https://www.fastcompany.com/40472034/how-instagram-became-the-music-industrys-most-powerful-weapon, https://www.npr.org/sections/therecord/2018/04/05/599592959/the-business-of-being-cardi-b, https://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/hip-hop/8264124/cardi-b-music-career-timeline, https://www.digitalmusicnews.com/2018/07/24/youtube-6-7-figure-igtv-creators/, https://www.glamourmagazine.co.uk/article/cardi-b-facts, https://lbbonline.com/news/instagram-tv-thoughts-and-predictions-from-a-strategist/