The movie Straight Outta Compton has been getting rave reviews since its release in the U.S. last week. Straight Outta Compton tells the amazing story of a talented group of musicians who overcame extraordinary odds and then changed an entire genre of music for the better by shaping a culture built on self expression and freedom of speech.
A few members of the Studio Culture team were lucky enough to attend preview screenings at Event Cinemas last week (thanks to My City Life) and we couldn’t help but pick up some business lessons from the movie.
1: Tell your story / express yourself
(Image from USA Today)
The members of N.W.A: Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Eazy E, MC Ren and Yella carved their own market in the music industry simply by embracing their circumstances and paying homage to that circumstance by telling their story.
The takeaway message is that by telling your brand’s story and ‘expressing yourself’, you will reach an audience who resonate with your story and become invested in it.
2: Hustle hard
(Image from Eazy E Forum)
A majority of the members of N.W.A had a work ethic second to none. Dr. Dre didn’t stop at being a great producer: he was a visionary who constantly slaved away in the studio perfecting beats and experimenting with sounds for the group and, later on, some of the most influential artists of our time. Ice Cube was constantly recording tracks as a solo artist to build his own career as well as founding the film company Cube vision and writing scripts for cult classics such as ‘Friday’.
3: Dress appropriately
(Image from The Urban Film Stage)
One scene in the movie shows Eazy E talking quite passionately to the rest of the N.W.A members prior to one of their first show about wearing all black and dressing like a ‘superstar’ group. In other words, the age old adage: ‘Dress for the position you want to have, not the one you do.’
4: Listen to your customer / stay on brand / protect your brand
(Image from WeAreMusic.TV)
Throughout the whole movie it is clear to see just how much of a public stir (and in some respects outrage) that N.W.A caused. Threats from law enforcement were constant towards N.W.A for exercising freedom of speech on controversial tracks such as “F..k tha police”. One instance of this came to a head at a concert in Detroit when Police threatened to arrest the members of N.W.A prior to a show if they chose to go ahead with performing the piece.
N.W.A knew their audience and brand would be affected if they gave into pressure – the public perception is that N.W.A doesn’t listen to police. Thus, they chose to perform the hit song regardless of the chaos that ensued. This also presented them with a media opportunity to reveal their true beliefs in freedom of speech and expression.
The business takeaway is that you should always stay on brand and protect its integrity.
5: Pay attention to Contracts
(Image from Hip Hop and Politics)
Several times in Straight Outta Compton it is apparent how much drama contracts caused the group. Whether it was not understanding the fine print or shady individuals such as Suge Knight trying to renegotiate them violently not having proper contracts caused a world of pain financially and relationship wise on the group.
If you haven’t already got your legals in shape, stop reading and get it sorted.
Straight Outta Compton is in Australian cinemas from early September, be sure to check out! We hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
Joe Fox is Studio Culture’s Business and Development Director.