Article: Local Urban Investing

Invest in YOUR Local Hip-Hop
by Kandis Knight

As I write about local Hip-Hop every week I have to try to reach out to the business community, especially young business owners. I witness my share of talented local Hip-Hop artists. These artists are unsung heroes just waiting for the opportunity to hit the road and never look back. Hip-Hop is a part of the Twin Cities economy: every day local CDs are purchased, merchandise is sold, events are being planned, business-to-business transactions are taking place ... and Hip-Hop’s legion of a fans is growing.

Your company can garner huge returns from Hip-Hop with minimum investment. So before you "mis" judge Hip-Hop and write it off as some nemesis to the community, please take some time out to think about the Twin Cities Hip-Hop market. Twin Cities Hip-Hop "heads" (fans) encompass a large market, people from the ages of 14-35 (and expanding) of diverse racial and socio-economic backgrounds consider themselves Hip-Hop fans.

Does this sound like your target market or a market you'd love to tap into? Listen, this demographic is very brand loyal and supportive of those companies that acknowledge and support Hip-Hop culture.Much like fans of independent rock music, the Twin Cities has a very young, vibrant Hip-Hop community. The Twin Cities has a sturdy Hip-Hop infrastructure; there are Web Sites, journalists, radio shows, stores, festivals and events all focused solely on Hip-Hop.

For a large or small investment your company can sponsor a local Hip-Hop show, CD release, Hip-Hop newspaper column, radio show or weekly Hip-Hop event. Your corporate identity can be associated with a local Hip-Hop artist who reaches regional or even national success—positively impacting your bottom line for years to come. And to think we aren't even talking about celebrity endorsements yet! You might be thinking. “Why would I want my company associated with a Hip-Hop show or group?” There are myriad reasons. For starters, Twin Cities Hip-Hop groups are reaching national and even international fame. In fact, the next major superstar(s) to come out of Minnesota may very well be of the Hip-Hop genre.

Now close your eyes and imagine a local band that is looking for businesses to sponsor their music shows and invest in a movie pilot they are developing. Would you see the benefit in supporting this group? What if the band was called Prince and The Revolution and the movie they were developing was called “Purple Rain”? I know I’m reaching here, but the point is that there are hundreds of talented local Hip-Hop artists who have the same desire and ambition as an early ‘80s Prince and The Revolution. The difference—there are no financial supporters in the business community stepping up to the plate.

I say this even though everyone reading this article knows the city would benefit greatly if we were once again thrust into the national entertainment spotlight like we were back in the days of “Purple Rain.” So back to Earth, there are many young creative Hip-Hop entrepreneurs who have created a community here in the Twin Cities all around Hip-Hop culture. If your company is a small neighborhood business you can truly benefit by sponsoring a local Hip-Hop show simply by having your marketing message reaching outside of your neighborhood on the back of fliers promoting a Hip-Hop show or event.

Who doesn’t want their company or brand to be considered cool by thousands of young people across the Twin Cities and the Midwest? Here’s a real world hypothetical if you still don’t get it. Do you own a restaurant, clothing, music or shoe store? A coupon on the back of 10,000 fliers promoting a local Hip-Hop show will cost you as little as two hundred dollars and will reach your target market quicker than you can say "P. Diddy". And there’s no need to worry about distributing your coupons or fliers because Hip-Hop promoters employ street teams full of young, passionate, troopers ready to paper the town for their love of Hip-Hop.

Let's say Pappalo's Pizza Company sponsors MC John Doe's Hip-Hop show by giving away coupons for a free slice of pizza. After the show 300 hungry kids jam into Pappalo's with their coupons in hand and each kid buys a soda and maybe an extra slice of pizza. By the end of the night Pappalo's Pizza made a huge profit, the fans and customers are happy and Pappalo's helped a local Hip-Hop artist further his career.

Most importantly is the residual effect of sponsorship, these kids are going to remember Pappalo's Pizza is a cool place to hang out and it is open until 2:00 a.m. and supports local Hip-Hop shows and MC John Doe whom everyone loves.If you need more examples, look at Pizza Luce, the all around "cool" pizza place. Pizza Luce has followed the market trends for years. They have sponsored more than their share of rock, Hip-Hop and alternative events. No wonder the company is raking in over $5 millon a year! So don't be skurred (scared) to invest in local Hip-Hop.

The summer is coming and last year the Twin Cities was bustling with plenty of Hip-Hop events and only the savvy business owners realized the potential and helped "the cause" by offering sponsorship dollars and only the savvy venue owners opened their doors to begin building relationships with this Hip-Hop community. Can you envision your logo and coupons on thousands of fliers, T-shirts, stickers, album covers, posters, hats, Web Sites, newspapers, radio shows all related to Hip-Hop? Now you're thinking!

If you’re interested in investing in local Hip-Hop shows I encourage you to do so. There are thousands of events that go on yearly and I have a long contact list if you'd like to get started on this today.

Prince doesn’t have to be the only Minnesota artist to make it to the national spotlight when there are hundreds of talented young Hip-Hop artists, producers, DJs, journalists and promoters looking for that break to make it to the next level. We’ll all benefit if the next big Hip-Hop star emerges from our hometown and takes the world by storm. It’s going to happen!

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