Ryan Leslie was not afraid to do the unordinary to push his artistry and his pockets to the next level.

The singer-turned-entrepreneur has never shied away from sharing some of the tips and tricks that have led him to the pinnacles of success he’s achieved today.

During a previous interview on the Earn Your Leisure podcast, he was back with even more gems.

Building Your Audience

“In order to build the audience that I wanted to build and in order to attract the audience that I wanted to attract and in order to accumulate the kind of data I wanted to accumulate, I needed to make sure that that audience was communicating with me directly,” he explained. “Because the convenience of iTunes, the convenience of Amazon, the convenience of Spotify, made it such that they really were just like ‘Okay, I can just go listen to Ryan’s music, why I gotta give him my cell phone number to listen to it.'”

Removing His Music From DSPs

With his focus lasered on finding his core audience, Leslie made the decision to remove his music from all streaming platforms.

@earnyourleisure @ryanleslie gave the blueprint to independence on episode 64 of Earn Your Leisure. Available on our YouTube channel and all podcast audio outlets. #musicbusiness ♬ original sound – Earn Your Leisure

“So, to take all the music off the streaming services, it gave me a way to differentiate between those that were passive interactions with me and active interactions with me. And I knew that I could convert the active interactions into a relationship of support,” Leslie continued. “And that support came to the tune of a $2 million independent album cycle at that time with no label, no management, no music video, just a short documentary around the project. And so it was important to make sure that there was one exclusive hub where they could get the product and that the gateway to that hub was for them to just simply introduce themselves so that for the first time, instead of having an anonymous following, I could actually have a following where every single interaction had a name, an email, a phone number, a city, a birthday associated with that.”

The Text Message That Changed It All

Before others really caught onto the power of automated messaging with fans, Leslie knew that the concept would help lead him to his core audience.

“When I put my number on Twitter and said ‘Hey, everybody shoot me a text,’ there were 35,000 people that texted in,” the “Addiction” crooner revealed.


For him, being intentional about the information captured from fans that were texting in set his campaign apart from the rest.

Photo Credit: Lester Cohen

“The difference between my 2013 campaign, and the campaigns that I’m seeing now is that there was a very specific intent captured at the initiation of the conversation,” said Leslie. “I didn’t just say, ‘Here’s my number, shoot me a text, what’s up.’ I said, ‘Look, shoot me a text to get my new album.’ So, they shot me a text, I already know the reason they’re texting is to get my new album.”

He added: “Once that intent is captured, then you have an incredibly high conversion rate. So one out of two, about 17,000 people actually brought that record — that’s $170,000. The difference, though, is that I now have a Rolodex, a record, a ledger of every single person that’s willing to spend money with me directly,” Leslie explained.


From there, Leslie also gathered information about the regions in which his fans were located and made the decision to embark on a tour.

As previously reported by AfroTech, artists often bring in millions of dollars by connecting further with fans via concert events, and Leslie did just that.

The artist says he ended up selling 40,000 tickets during the Europe leg of his tour.