Some individuals rely on a stacked resume to prove why they are worthy of a position. However, for Maurice Slade, his love for music has overshadowed the value of any bullet point.
Slade was recently appointed as SoundCloud’s Head of Marketing, Artist Relations, where he will cultivate the artist-to-fan relationship. Of course, he is well positioned for this role as he previously played a hand in the branding and marketing strategies for Hip-Hop artists Travis Scott and 21 Savage while working under Epic Records.
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Before that, he also spent some time with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation and learned how to uniquely build strategies working alongside J. Cole early on in his career. This season cemented pivotal lessons as it pertains to artist development.
During their introduction, Slade tried to integrate some successful tactics that worked with a former artist. However, when applied to the North Carolina rapper, he was not getting the same results. So, he learned by trial and error to develop marketing strategies that reflect the artists’ individuality. In this fashion, it allows fans to authentically gravitate toward the artists and their work.
“The first project I worked on, I was hands-on and watched it blow up from the beginning. The next artist I worked with was J. Cole. I tried to use those same strategies, and the same content as his project, but they weren’t working. Looking back, it’s because they were different people, in completely different situations, and with completely different styles of Hip-Hop. Now, working with these artists, I take a look at them, analyze who they are, strengths, weaknesses, things that they have going for themselves, and things that could be better, and utilize that to my advantage,” Slade told AfroTech.
J. Cole now has become one of the most successful rappers in the game. Yet, he’s maintained this success while seemingly appearing as a “regular guy.” J. Cole had that allure even back in the day, and Slade had to structure campaigns around that persona.
“He’s a pretty normal dude. So, what we did was — there were photos of him at Mcdonald’s we promoted and photos of him on an actual Metro Bus. So, we doubled [down] on the fact that he’s a normal guy,” Slade said.
You could imagine the road ahead since J. Cole was gearing up to release his second project “Born Sinner,” which coincided with the release date of Kanye West’s sixth studio album “Yeezus.”
Both talents were dropping on June 18, 2013, and Slade’s goal was to ensure J. Cole would secure the No. 1 spot. Therefore, they strategically released J. Cole’s music prematurely through a SoundCloud link and hosted an exclusive listening party.
“We felt like we had a big album,” Slade said. “So, one of the strategies that we used was for people to hear the music before it was released because it would garner that chatter that we wanted going into the next week to get the numbers done. So funny enough, we did two things. We leaked the album online through SoundCloud and put it on his website so a lot of people could hear the song. People were then talking about how they felt ‘Born Sinner’ is better than ‘Yeezus.’ So, that was the back and forth that we wanted before the release.”
He continued: “We also did a listening session in New York City for press and fans. It was maybe 100 to 150 people in the theater that we showed the visuals, and we had the album playing. Everyone was wearing headphones. While the album was playing we also used an application to have ten different stations around the country where people could listen to J. Cole’s album at the same time as we were having this listening session.”
It was genius.
Many users started creating moments that would be imprinted ahead of his release. Some were blasting the album in their cars. Others were jamming out to J. Cole’s lyrics at block parties. For J. Cole’s team, that was all they wanted as they were looking “to create moments for people that they would never forget.”
The album “Born Sinner” ended up charting at the No. 2 Spot on Billboard, selling 297,000 copies within the first week of its release, and became one of Slade’s proudest accomplishments.
As Slade looks ahead, his focus will be to find innovative strategies that will empower artists in their musical journey. He also looks forward to his next chapter with SoundCloud as it will provide multiple avenues for artists to expand their influence.
“I feel like artists signing or partnering with a company, they should be getting something out of it right away. SoundCloud has the leverage to do that,” Slade said. “SoundCloud is a platform itself with millions of creators, so as soon as that artist signs, there are opportunities to put artists on a platform right away to promote their music, whether it’s through social posts, emails on SoundCloud, certain playlists, or certain campaigns. Being able to put these artists on the platform immediately when they sign is something innovative and something that I’m to be a part of.”