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What Justin Bieber and the Odd Future Have in Common

The most interesting anecdote from The New Yorker’s recent profile of Justin Bieber’s manager Scooter Braun, came when Braun explained how he had turned “the most Googled person on the planet” into a money-making dynamo, even within an industry that seemed determined to not make any money.

It bears quoting at length:

When Braun met David Geffen, at a party a couple of years ago, he said that Geffen had one bit of advice for him: “Get out of the music business.” So Braun has been converting his twelve-person company, SB Projects, into a many-faceted organization: it now has film and TV arms (Braun recently sold a scripted show, and has reality shows in development), a publishing division, and a technology-investment unit, in addition to a label and a management company.

Bieber’s success, at least from a financial standpoint, has come as much from cross-platform branding as it has from the sale of actual music. Consider the 5 million sales of Das-Bieb’s two albums to date, versus the 50 million sales enjoyed by Adele’s similarly sized catalogue. Bieber, however, is raking in far more dough, thanks to the sale of such items as concert tickets ($83 million), feature films ($98 million) and perfume ($120 million).

As cross-platform branding turns the music industry into what is essentially a series of advertisements for other services, Bieber has found himself with some unlikely company in the business’ forefront: the Odd Future.

Like Bieber (or, to be more accurate, like Braun), the Odd Future has proven tenacious when it comes to leveraging its acclaim into non-musical pursuits. In addition to the small universe of splinter groups that have capitalized on the Odd Future brand (Domo Genesis, Mellowhype, Frank Ocean), the group has placed its name on everything from throw pillows to key chains, not to mention the infamous cat t-shirts that Tyler, the Creator has turned into a closet industry in and of themselves.

Perhaps most significantly, Odd Future has sold its image to Cartoon Network in the form of its Loiter Squad sketch comedy show.

Rappers have long harbored a talent for turning their popularity into monetary reward, but it appears that in the future, the industry as a whole will be forced to adopt a similar logic, following in the wonderfully mismatched footsteps of misters Justin and Tyler.

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About the Author


Shane Danaher's affection for pop music has peppered his adult life with a variety of aesthetically rewarding and financially disastrous decisions. After moving to Portland, Oregon for college (because that's where he heard Modest Mouse was from) Shane has wound up participating in the music world in roles ranging from 'drummer' to 'promoter' to 'bathroom floor scrubber.' He has toured without money, written about almost every band ever to have come out of the Pacific Northwest, and one time traveled all the way to Los Angeles just to see a catch hip-hop show. He currently resides in Portland, where he writes about hip-hop, pop and rock music for a variety of publications. He still plays drums. He wants to meet Kanye West.

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Posted in: Hip Hop Music


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