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In my opinion, every brotha and sista who wants to avoid “working for the man” and not being limited to the 9-5 corporate grind should carefully study past hip hop entrepreneurs, including Nipsey Hussle. Nipsey gained respect in the music industry for being the first “fool” crazy enough to sell one of his early mixtapes, “Crenshaw,” for $100 each - and sold 1,000 of them, pocketing $100,000. Jay Z bought 100 of them. Where did he get this idea from? From the story of a restaurant owner who came up with the crazy idea of selling a Philly Cheesesteak for $100!
In other words, he thought outside the box, so Nipsey emulated that idea, and it worked. Why did it work? At first, Nipsey was going to do like 99% of hip hop artists do and upload his mixtape for free to a popular mixtape site. But after reading about that $100 Philly cheesesteak idea from the book Contagius, he realized that “free” is sometimes too accessible and not special, but when you charge an outrageous amount like $100, then a mystique surrounds your product, and people with the money and means get curious as to what sets you apart. And it worked! Music industry heavyweights like Jay Z took notice. Of course, your product has to be good once the big dogs get wind of it; otherwise, they will tell their friends not to buy it, and you will fail. Nipsey’s product was high quality enough to be ready when opportunity came knocking.
Another lesson from Nipsey’s life is to always know your business before you do business. In the music industry, which I’ve been a part of for sometime in a few different ways, the ability to make real money started dying once Napster killed the game back in 1999 (for those young whipper snappers who don’t know, Google it lol). And once streaming music sites took over, money really got tight as millions of artists have to compete for a slice of $9.99 a month of unlimited downloads. Being a smart brotha, Nipsey decided to monetize his music in smart ways. In a Forbes magazine article in 2013, here’s what he said about making money in the music business:
It’s time we acknowledge what we all know: the music is free,” Asghedom said. “We shouldn’t force people to buy it, what we should do is create different methods to monetize the connection.
Nipsey Hussle in Forbes Magazine, 2013
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