When you think of Eminem, how do you believe he became such a megastar?
Would you say it’s because he’s a talented, gifted wordsmith? If you would, you’re about half right.
Eminem’s technical skills—everything from penning tight lyrics to composing enthralling beats—are phenomenal. He’s a Hip Hop legend.
But that’s not the only reason he’s successful. Actually, that’s only half the story.
Eminem As a Marketer?
Yes, Eminem also knew how to market his work. He knew how to self-promote, network.
This shocked me. If you’re an Eminem fan, it might shock you too.
It might contradict your general perception of the rapper. I always viewed him as a reserved, introverted artist who relied solely on talent to climb the ranks.
And he did. But you better believe he also fiercely concentrated on marketing. He built relationships and made connections.
He realized his so called ‘skills’ and ‘talents’ would only take him so far.
He’d have to showcase these abilities.
When Eminem was young and raw, he would confront other aspiring rappers and ask them to battle (a sequence where two rappers square off and ‘spit’ rhymes to see who’s better).
He believed that the intricacy of his rhymes was far superior to anybody else’s. He was confident.
So confident, in fact, he even walked into a Detroit record shop and challenged an up-and-coming Kid Rock to a battle, who was promoting his new album at the time.
(Of course, Kid rock was a rocker; he didn’t ‘battle’. But you gotta respect Eminem’s determination to prove he was the best wordsmith in town.)
Eminem was proud. He had steely focus. And he poured this energy not just into mastering his craft, but also into mastering the art of marketing.
With Eminem, he learned the art of business. He learned the art of networking—as well as working on his craft and getting better and better. And doing that, he was able to meet people, and get people to listen to him that were maybe outside his normal circle of Detroit, which helped him get discovered.
—Johnathan Dunnings, Detroit DJ
Eminem, almost desperately, entered rap battles and competitions in clubs around Detroit. When he worked part-time as a short-order cook, he’d bring people his tapes and ask for feedback.
He’d persuade just about anyone to check out his performances. He did his own legwork.
And people came out to support him. Because they liked him. Because they appreciated his drive.
Marketing is Key
Some artists take a while to realize the importance of marketing. Some are even repulsed by the idea of ‘self-promotion’.
But it’s the only way you’ll get heard in today’s noisy, cluttered, hyperactive world.
People’s attention spans are short. They don’t care about your work. They have other things to care about.
They’re not gonna discover your genius. They’re too busy thinking they are the geniuses.
They’re not gonna find you and give you money. They have other bills to pay.
They won’t pay attention unless you give them a reason.
You have to (politely) interrupt them and make them care.
Give Marketing Equal Attention
Eminem is a brilliant wordsmith. The way he webs his words together to create compelling, emotional, and relatable songs is brilliant. But even he struggled for years and years to be heard.
Then he started reaching out as far as he could, networking and circulating his music—and he started gaining popularity.
Having talent or making exceptional work simply isn’t enough. Marketing must be given equal attention. Because people still need to hear it.
Ignore marketing, and your efforts will likely be wasted. Your skills will go undiscovered. Combine it with high quality work (developed through deliberate practice), though, and you’ll start to see real progress.
For writers and bloggers: CopyBlogger
For anyone looking to market online: Seth Godin
For those looking to build relationships: Remarkable Communication
For musicians, check out what Amanda Palmer is doing.
For poets, see what Sarah Kay is doing.
For writers, check out Jeff Goins’ blog.