A weird thing happened earlier this week on Twitter: I got to watch a bunch of 20- and 30-somethings who work in media argue over whether or not Russ, a guy with two Platinum singles and a Gold album, is relevant.
Regardless of how you feel about Russ' music and/or what he says on social media and in interviews, the Atlanta-based native of New Jersey is pushing his music, successfully.
As the old methods of music discovery fade into obscurity, the rap blog generation has become a bit confused and, much like the crate-digging generation before it, is getting left behind.
I work for a company called Demographics Pro, which provides companies with demographic and psychographic data of Twitter and Instagram audiences. Our customers include music labels and talent agencies, which use our insights to understand what their artists' audiences look like, and assist with targeted booking, brand sponsorships and partnerships.
So when I see folks complaining about never hearing music from Russ in their daily life, all I can think to myself is, “I bet these people don’t even interact with Russ’ audience.”
For a baseline, let’s look at DJBooth’s Twitter audience. DJBooth is a hub for us millennial rap nerds, right? We’ll use it as a control:
- 68.2% male
- 82.9% aged 21-29
- 76.1% black
- The audience is heavily concentrated in states with major metropolitan areas, including New York, Georgia, Illinois, and Pennsylvania.
Now, let’s look at Russ’ audience:
- 65.9% female
- 86.8% aged 20 and under
- 50.9% white, 25.9% Hispanic, and 22.5% black
- The audience is heavily concentrated in states such as Ohio, Washington, Arizona, Oregon, and Nevada.
See the discrepancy here?
It’s not just that Russ’ core audience is different from DJBooth’s, it's that these two audiences aren’t likely to be interacting at all.
A 17-year-old Russ fan probably won’t ever get the chance to tell a millennial rap nerd about his music, so of course, us 20- and 30-somethings will be in the dark. I am not going to the same parties as a college freshman, so how am I going to hear "What They Want" (especially considering his lack of radio and media presence)?
Now, let’s look at another newer rapper’s audience: 21 Savage.
- 59% male
- 68.5% aged 21-29
- 88.2% black
- The audience is heavily concentrated in states with major metropolitan areas, such as Georgia, Texas, North Carolina, and Illinois.
In other words, fellow millennial rap nerds, there’s a reason you’ve heard 21 Savage and not Russ—your peers are actually listening to him.
I could go on and on but the point is this: just because your Twitter feed doesn’t listen to one rapper, doesn’t mean the rest of the world isn’t listening. Take the time to search outside of your feed and see what everyone else is bumping. Who knows, you might find something you like.