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"All the people tell me so, but what do all the people know?"

It's been a long time since you worked on a street team but the concept hasn't changed tremendously - and that's a problem. Originally, the idea of rewarding people for spreading the good word with free admission and 3,000 stickers was enough to get feet moving. Nine years ago the idea of pimping Paul Oakenfold for free tickets from Rifkin by merely placing flyers around town, talking up the artist at every given opportunity and distributing stickers seemed pretty easy. But in this social networking age, it's a lot harder to stand out and reach a tipping point.
Back then, just as now, the hard part was embracing the artist. To highlight this from the earlier example, the time spent promoting Oakenfold would have been entirely worthwhile if you could understand why he reigned supreme in dance music and, for that matter, how dance music really managed to make an emotional connection with anybody who wasn't rolling. It would have been a lot easier to get behind him if he had made himself a little larger than life.

Without feeling a deep and appreciative love for the artist and the lunacy that inspires that art, it may be more difficult than ever to take time and promote that artist. Being an artist just doesn't cut it anymore - just look at Frank Black. Really, the artist has to show some spirit and promote themselves through more than just the creative expression by which they define themselves. To help with this, here is a list of suggestions for any artist to consider for the sake of assembling an aggressive and enthusiastic street team:

1. The artist should adopt and associate themselves with a unique symbol simple enough to be spray-painted while inebriated or shaved into the side of a Newfoundland. Simple shapes chosen to represent some deeper meaning are the most preferable. The artist alone should assign meaning - it's sort of like working backwards from an acronym. Everybody likes acronyms.

2. The artist should generate a buzz through at least one, if not a series of, dangerous and irresponsible actions that become newsworthy. On a scale of 1-10 with 1 being a DUI with a bona fide celebrity in the vehicle and 10 being self-immolation, the artist should really target somewhere between 6-8. For instance, a 6 would be a criminal conviction of something absolutely stupendous - think along the lines of Rick James. Rick James stands alone in the world of celebrity convicts not because he smoked crack but because he kidnapped somebody to smoke crack with him. On the higher end of the scale, an 8 would be taking a shower from a Gerry can filled with something fairly flammable in a mass transit center. In an ideal world, that flammable something is celebrity-endorsed moonshine awaiting marketing. Real world success can actually result in an elevated terrorist threat level.

3. Grassroots should mean something to the artist. If the artist doesn't already smoke a lot of weed, the artist should get photographed with a celebrity that does.

4. It's a lot easier to spread the word about the artist when the artist has words to spread. There are a lot of people out there who read bumper stickers. Heck, there are a lot of people out there that live their lives in accordance with them …an awful lot of them.

5. If at all possible, the artist should start a dance craze. This isn't as hard as it might seem. Fat Joe started the Rockaway simply because, well, he's fat. Leaning back is a pretty natural thing to do after a big meal. Doing it rhythmically? Yep - that's considered dancing.

6. It's never a bad idea for an artist to take a nickname. Calvin Broadus might have sold a couple of albums but Snoop Dogg has sold millions.

7. Product tie-ins are a tricky game. An artist might end up with their own shoe (good), an anatomically correct and possibly enhanced sex toy (outstanding), or a figurine likeness tossed into a Happy Meal (horrible - especially if it can be disassembled and becomes a choking hazard).

-William Cadillac Donovan

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