Equalo, VR, and Innovative Marketing Tactics

Anybody that reads me knows that I like to write quite a bit about technology, business, music, and the intersection of the three when I can. This is fitting, I think, because it seems that technology changes quicker than music trends do, and lately has actually defined them. Soft synths are used in like, nine out of ten pop songs nowadays (don’t actually quote me on that), and mixed with digital DAWs have enabled anybody with enough drive and the money to get ahold of them to make music like the professionals–and that is actually where our story begins.

For those who don’t know, I do a show on Radio Boise KRBX 89.9 FM called Krush Korner Sundays from 10pm  to 11pm (shameless plug), and I was talking with my co-host DJ Winkle about the generational waves of rappers that sort of make themselves known in the scene. Equalo, a Seattle transplant who’s been working to establish himself in Boise lately, became the topic of conversation, as we’d decided on spinning the song “Sleep” from his album Underage Thinking.

Before I go further into this, I’d like to explain that the way we pick songs to spin is two-fold–we either wait for people to send us tracks, or we go digging for them ourselves. The little-known side of the process is that Winkle and I critique everything we play, and honestly, we don’t like everything we play. We give equal opportunity to everybody, and just because something isn’t our style doesn’t necessarily mean we won’t play it; we want to give full representation to everybody in the spectrum, from boom-bap to trap, from polished to dusty, and from tight-knit to somewhat sloppy.

With that, I’ll be completely honest about Equalo–he needs to sharpen up some of his flow, tighten up his rhyme schemes and his content a little bit, and I think he still needs to find more of his own voice. Now, if that’s the worst Winkle or I have to say about your music (especially considering other local content that we’ve listened through), you shouldn’t be worried at all. This is the natural progression of an artist: always improving, always sharpening up and getting tighter, and always moving forward.

All of that said, I think there are quite a few things Equalo is doing right. If you listen to “Sleep” you can hear it in the production value alone. The beat is modern and crisp, as are the vocals, and among the lyrics I picked out a couple of gems: “got my own demons and they follow me // wanna see me self-destruct like Apollo 3” is an original spin on a cliched line, so I gotta give kudos and credit where it’s due.

Anyway, something that Winkle mentioned beyond the production value that he liked was that Equalo is the first guy that I know of to have done a 360 degree video recording of one of his performances. Peep it below:

Video via Vicarious Video Productions

I’ve seen this before from hip hoppers outside of Boise, but rarely see anybody trying innovative tactics like this in the 208. MCMD’s Leaf Tag album release via Twitch last year was one of the more innovative tactics, but unfortunately I haven’t seen many others following up with this type of creative marketing expansion.

Video and virtual reality in particular are the two mediums that I see taking off soon, and I’m not the only one in that camp. Anastasia Passaris from Clipchamp predicts that video content will overtake written content across the web sooner rather than later (you may be listening to me instead of reading me soon), and that when mixed with VR we’ll be live-streaming multiple environments and events from the comfort of our living rooms.  

When talking about VR, it’s easy to see the technology as an out-there, “maybe-it-will/maybe-it-won’t affect me” type of tool–but we have to remember that the internet was viewed in the same light. Reportlinker findings show that the technology itself is reaching the tipping point, and that good content is what will drive VR success. Movies and TV will define some of that content, but so will concerts, according to Billboard, and I think that people who think and market like Equalo are going to be the ones that come out on top.

It’s easy to forget that the most-watched television event of the year, Super Bowl LI, was not only broadcast (partially) in VR, but that the winning team actually employed virtual reality in their training efforts.  

I’m not saying that Twitch streaming or 360 degree videos are the silver bullet that will make you successful in your musical career. I’m saying that if you often find yourself waiting for others to come up with successful forms of marketing, you’ll always be a follower instead of a trailblazer.

Get creative with how you’re presenting yourself, try new things, and blaze ahead.

Andy O.

Andy O. is an independent hip-hop artist from Boise, ID and one of the co-founders of Earthlings Entertainment. Follow him on twitter @AndyO_TheHammer and facebook.