I went to see Jay-Z and Kanye West play at the O2 in London last week. Although Jay-Z was clearly the main attraction, they both killed it. Equal parts ludicrous and sublime, it made me think about some of the fundamentals which have escalated Jay-Z to the top of the music world.
1. Invest in your customers by giving them clear value for money
Jay-Z and Kanye played for over two and half hours. No woolly interludes or faffing around on the stage. To quote the philosopher Westwood-just straight fire. That’s a long time for an industry that seems to think most performances shouldn’t be longer than a football match. No matter what you paid for your ticket, it was a great experience. Means next time I won’t even think twice (no matter what the ticket prices are).
2. When you’ve found the thing that works, relentlessly exploit it
It’s not as if either rapper struggled for traction with the crowd. But the Ni**as in Paris track is clearly the tune of the Summer, and had a particular impact. So they played it FOUR times for the encore. And still people were loving it. I’ve never seen an audience leaving a (major) gig that excited.
3. Presentation is everything
Jay-Z could pretty much get a crowd to its feet by adjusting his cap. But this gig was a master lesson in lighting and stage choreography. Almost worth going to see for that alone.
4. When presenting, involve your audience
A time-honoured hip hop thing. When they say ‘hey’, you say ‘ho’ and so forth. The very essence of community engagement was being practiced by Brooklyn rappers in the 1970s. Still holds true for startups and investor presentations today.
5. Understand your own business model
“I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man”. Somewhere along his career, Hove realised that he was much more than a rapper, he was a brand (or had the potential to be). Understanding that distinction has allowed him to leave once-contemporaries like Busta Rhymes, Ghostface Killah and Nas behind him