Will.i.am: Business Genius in the Music Industry

Will.I.Am - apparently dressing weird is a 'genius' requirement Will.i.am front man for pop sensation Black Eyed Peas is a business genius.

Its forgone that he’s a creative genius, having transitioned his group’s brand from a feel good hip hop group to a full blown pop sensation. Along the way he’s developed a production resume that ranges from the Yes We Can Obama campaign video, to urban radio, to pop hits.

But his business prowess has been unheralded. While Pharell of Neptunes and N.E.R.D. was listed by FastCompany as the 36 of 100 Most Creative People in business. Will.i.am’s Yes We Can video not only took celebri-roots activism to a new level, it also launched his unknown project [dipdive] to the tune of millions of views (the site has since beta launched as a ‘lifestyle engine’).

What’s Dipdive? That’s Will’s own social-networking site, what he calls a “lifestyle engine”. He invented it, employs 25 computer-code writers to keep the technology ahead of the curve, and currently spends $150,000 a month developing it into a proper entertainment network. “This is Twitter times a billion,” he says. “Twitter is, like, a picture and 140 letters. This is video, MP3s, blogs…”

via Independent.co.uk

While spending $150K a month on a startup is unsustainable and a sure way to burn through cash – I still give him points for creativity.

His full prowess really shines through in his business model for the new Black Eyed Peas album E.N.D. via Billboad:

Group leader will.i.am tells Billboard.com that “The END” stands for “The Energy Never Dies,” which describes his model for a project that will be living and frequently updated throughout its designated cycle.

“It’s a diary … of music that at any given time, depending on the inspiration, you can add to it,” the artist/producer/songwriter explains. “When it comes out, there’ll be 12 songs on it, but the next day there could be 100 songs, 50 sketches, 1,000 blogs all (online) around ‘The End,’ so the energy really, truly never dies.

As I summarized in my previous music post covering why people buy vs. pirate music, the connection with the artist is key. I think this continuous model of looking at an album beyond shrink rap is an important mental step forward for an industry in search of a business model.

The other key component the study found was: music listeners want to re-experience. With, Boom Boom Pow, their first single off of The End, a No. 1 hit and a Boom Boom Pow remix EP of six remixes featuring everyone from up and coming artist Kid Cudi to billboard heavy weight 50 cent, will.i.am has proven that not only is the music experience well covered, but he’s also ensuring the Energy truly Never Dies.

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