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How to Score the Next BIG Hit: 5 Marketing Tips From Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' "Thrift Shop"

Written by Lukas Camenzind

With over 7 million copies sold, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “Thrift Shop” is one of the highest selling singles of the past few years.

But WHY was the song such a huge success?

And what can you learn from it if you want to score the NEXT big hit?

Here are 5 key insights:

1. It’s A Single

Did you know Thrift Shop was the 5th in a series of singles released from The Heist?

The first single was “My Oh My” (released December 2010). It completely failed to chart. About a month later came “Wing$” (released January 2011), but it didn’t really catch on either. Then, “Can’t Hold Us” (released August 2011) as the third, and a year later “Same Love” (released July 2012) as the 4th single…

…but it wasn’t until AFTER “Thrift Shop” (released August 2012) blew up in October of 2012, that the previous songs climbed the charts, too.

So what’s the lesson? Release and promote a series of individual songs. And: If it’s not a hit, switch. Don’t keep pushing a song that’s not getting any traction on its own. Keep releasing new songs until one catches on.

2. It’s Different

If you don’t want to drown in the sea of new releases, the first challenge for any (new) artist is: How do you stand out?

The simple answer: Be different.

“Thrift Shop” IS different: It’s an ode to resourcefulness and getting fabulous even when you can’t afford to touch the luxury items that rappers usually talk about.

In fact, it’s the exact OPPOSITE.

The lesson: If you want to get noticed, don’t do what everyone else is doing. Dare to be different. You will alienate some, but connect more with others - and that’s what matters in the end.

3. It’s Fun

As Jonah Berger shows in his book “Contagious: Why Things Catch On”, funny stories are among the most likely to go viral (because humor is a high-arousal, positive emotion, which makes it highly shareable).

And “Thrift Shop” IS a fun song… about a “controversial”, but not-so-serious topic: Whether you are a thrifty-hipster or not, it’s safe to have an opinion and fun to “argue” about it.

So, remember: Even if your music isn’t comical, don’t take yourself too serious. Make sure it’s fun to talk about your music, if you want anyone to share it.

4. It’s an Anthem

Thrift Shop is not just a song - it’s an anthem.

Why? Because the song is a symbol that captures the ACTUAL cultural phenomenon of the cash-strapped hipster (by choice or not), on the hunt for vintage clothes.

Here’s the good news: If you want your song to become an anthem, too, you don’t need to start a whole new movement.

All you need to do is draft behind a trend that’s ALREADY happening within the audience you want to reach.

Write a concept song with a clear and focused message, and you’ll have a better chance of it becoming an huge hit like Thrift Shop.

5. It’s Visual

With “Thrift Shop”, the song’s message doesn’t just come across through the music and lyrics:

The music video (currently at over 430 million views on You Tube!) communicates the song’s concept visually: It’s fun, different and out-there, and captures what the song is all about.

In todays online world (where everyone’s attention span is short), using stunning, extraordinary visuals to go along with your music is crucial.

If you want your next song to be a big hit - or at least more successful than your previous song - don’t skimp on the visuals.

Now tell me this…

Why Do You Think Some Songs Become HUGE Hits? And What Are You Doing To Increase Your Chances Of Scoring The Next One?

Leave a comment and let me know!

Author Bio:

Hi, my name is Luke and I have two passions in life: music and marketing. Have you ever wondered why some artists fail, while others have HUGE success online? If you’re a talented musician, I want to help you reach and engage more fans. To find out why some artists fail while others succeed, download my free report now:

How to Score the Next BIG Hit: 5 Marketing Tips From Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' "Thrift Shop"

Reader Comments (4)

What do you mean. "release"? Mail CDs to all the radio stations? Tell your million-dollar international sales team to contact all the media? Put up a video? What exactly constitutes a release?

What if radio stations don't like getting singles (they don't)? What if you don't have a million-dollar international sales team (we don't)? What if you're not famous already and nobody looks at your videos (they don't)?

October 19 | Unregistered CommenterAlan

My musician friends and colleagues have been debating this issues for a while: how frequently do you release music? Some are still holding onto the album concept and others are going for EPs.

I've definitely moved away from the album and have been on the EP path, but I may try to do a series of singles this time around to see what happens.

The idea of putting a track out and, if it doesn't get any traction, put out another one. It may take a few tries (most definitely will), but it keeps your name out there.

Thanks for making me think differently about releasing new stuff.

Rock Hard! Rock Sexy!
† The Deacon †

October 20 | Unregistered CommenterThe Deacon

Alan, by release I mean: Make it available for people to hear. Yes, I'd say make a video. If no one's watching it, then something's not working. So look at the videos people ARE watching, and do that. Obviously, you can't expect to score a hit on mainstream radio from nothing. The main point of the article is to learn from what's successful.

October 21 | Registered CommenterLukas Camenzind

The Deacon, cool! Even if you have an album or an EP, I would always push songs individually, too. Most people connect with individual songs, and usually it will be pretty clear, which track(s) grab people the most.

Thanks for commenting guys!

October 21 | Registered CommenterLukas Camenzind

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