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How to Build Buzz for Your Next Release (German Rap Edition)

You know who’s selling more records than US rappers?

German rappers.

Not only have records sales in Germany beengoing (relatively) strong overall, but homegrown rap artists are topping the charts.

Seems like they’re doing something right…

Do you want to know how to build buzz for your next release?

Let’s take a look the secrets of their success:

1. Start Controversy

This is nothing new: music fans LOVE controversy.

And it gets people talking (read why in Jonah Berger’s excellent book Contagious: Why Things Catch On).

So how exactly do ze Germanz take advantage of this?

With some good old BEEF of course!

(Seriously, following the German rap scene is like watching a soap opera…)

Artists are taking shots at each other in interviews, releasing diss tracks, posting private text message, or secretly recorded phone calls to expose their rivals.

But controversy isn’t limited to rap beef.

Rapper Bushido is a master of creating well-timed controversies (always right before  his next release…) by taking shots at public figures outside of music, like journalists or politicians.

The song “Stress ohne Grund” received an unmeasurable amount of attention because of lyrics like:

“I shoot at Claudia Roth [german politician], and she’ll get holes just like a golf course.”
— Bushido (“Stress ohne Grund”)

While the song eventually got banned…

…it propelled the album to the #1 spot on the charts!

So what’s the lesson for you as an artist?

Should you go “threaten” politicians just to get some attention?

Probably not…

But you have to be willing to take a controversial stance when it’s relevant to you as an artist.

It’s ok to offend. It’s ok to exaggerate.

If artists shared the same well-balanced, politically correct opinions and behaviors as everyone else… why should anyone care?

2. Stick To Your Story

Here’s another highly effective marketing strategy German artists use:

They’re not just musicians.

They are PERSONAS with a backstory.

And they stick to their plot:

Take Schwesta Ewa, she’s an ex-prostitute turned rapper!

Her unusual backstory is fascinating. And it’s pretty much all she talks about.

Her STORY is what makes Schwesta Ewa interesting and memorable.

So don’t just be another rapper.

Be “the guy that wanted to become an MMA fighter, but had an injury, had to quit, and became homeless, but then fought back with his music.”

I just made that up.

Because I don’t know what YOUR story is. But if you want to cut through the noise, you need to figure it out.

(Here’s an example of an artist bio I wrote, that makes use of a personal story.)

3. Make Them Laugh

Why so serious?

I understand your music is important to you. But when you assume the same level of commitment from others… you’re expecting too much from your audience!

Instead, make them laugh every now and then:

Here’s some Photoshop-inspiration from German rapper Summer Cem :-)

Nicht mehr lange meine Freunde!!! HAK kommt !!! #hak #bababox

A photo posted by Summer Cem (@summer_cem) on Nov 11, 2014 at 7:25am PST


Humor is another high-arousal emotion, so it gets people to take action!

As a result, the engagement on many German rappers Instagram and Facebook pages is THROUGH THE ROOF (despite Facebook being declared dead all the time)…

If you want more likes, shares and comments, stop being all serious about your music, and entertain your fans with some humor.

4. Plan Your Release

I don’t know who said this first, but it’s true:

“If you fail to plan, plan to fail.” (Tweet if you agree!)

German rappers have had big success with their releases because they follow a launch strategy.

Here are some of the ways they build excitement before a new release:

  • Announce a release date
  • Show making of/behind the scenes content
  • Share partial information (track list, features, artwork, teaser videos etc.)
  • Release music videos
  • Offer pre-order deals (or other clever products to sell as a musician)
  • Start a controversy (see above)

Coordinating a successful release is not an easy task.

But the lesson is:

Don’t just “put it out there” and hope for the best.

Think about how you will get your fans excited for your next project, and put a plan in place ahead of time.

5. Collaborate And Cross-Promote

Here’s the final piece of the puzzle:

On the flip-side of all the drama and beef (see above), many of the most successful artists collaborate and promote each other.

In some cases, independent labels (Banger Musik, Selfmade Records, Alles oder Nix, Chimperator) have formed around these groups of artists.

Releases are coordinated between the artists (who help each other out during promo), the success of one artists boosts the next release, and the audience grows exponentially!

Bonus: What Are You Selling?

German Rappers are not only masters at building buzz…

…they also get creative when it comes to the different products they sell:

Like Kollegah, who turned his music fame into a bodybuilding business called “Boss-Transformation”!

For more product ideas check out my free report: Music Is NOT What You’re Selling: 10 Clever Ways to Make Money as a Musician

Don’t let your next project be a dud… Build a buzz with these proven strategies, and turn it into a success!


Author Bio:

Hi, my name is Lukas. I have to passions in life: music and marketing. On my blog, I share proven online marketing strategies and how they apply to music. Want to find YOUR audience? You can download my step-by-step guide here. 

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