I always laugh when I see someone say that Sean “Diddy” Combs isn’t “relevant.” Whatever that means. As if time has passed him by and no one cares what he does.
I laugh at the irony because the self-important people that make these remarks are always vastly less “relevant” than Combs. Far less people have paid for anything they’ve done and far less people care about what they do now.
Combs is a master of long term relevance. Bad Boy Records, the music label he founded 20 years ago, is still around and is still producing hit music. Seemingly every other similarly sized, hip-hop focused label from 20 years ago is gone. That’s the way of the world. Success is generally fleeting.
But Bad Boy is still around and that longevity is a testament to Combs and how he has been able to maintain his success and leverage it into other ventures that then benefit his other ventures. Being a fan of him as I am (since 1997), and the author of Bad Boy Blog (for more than 7 years), I am pretty well versed in the moves he has made over the years.
If all he ever did was run a record label, if he was simply an executive and far less known, it’s possible – even likely – that Bad Boy would be dead now and he would working for another company. It’s clear that he loves business, but his love for music led to him becoming an artist. First, a producer, with an amazing pedigree or hits. Then an internationally successful recording artist. It is that artistry that has allowed him to do so many other things that ensure relevance.
He leveraged that fame and money to start Sean John, a hugely successful clothing line. In 2007, he formed a deal with Ciroc to lead their marketing efforts, which has led to a sales increase of 600%, according to Marketing Week. Zach O’Malley Greenburg of Forbes has said that the Ciroc deal might just be the move that eventually makes him hip-hop’s first billionaire.
With that introduction aside, let’s get down to the point of this article. Combs has been able to maintain a high level of visibility, influence and success for 20 years. You can’t tie this to any one move, it is the sum of the overall efforts. But there is one particular lesson that I’ve picked up from him that I think is one of the keys to him still being as successful as he is with multiple generations.
He shares his star.
Combs has this high level of fame and one thing that you can do in that position is to horde it. To never promote anyone else, to never publicly praise someone else, especially if it isn’t making you any money. To be selfish with your fame. Personally, I think that is a good way to encourage your own demise.
What I have watched Combs do – time and time again – is lend his credibility, his celebrity and his audience to an up-and-comer or to a new, hot artist. Usually, it isn’t an artist he’s in business with. It’s not someone he stands to make money from. I mean, it would be natural for it to go that direction and it does, rarely. But usually it is an artist that he has nothing to do with, who he has no paperwork with, who he probably will never have any paperwork with.
It could be a simple retweet, it could be him saying how much he likes what they’re doing, or an appearance on one of their songs or a remix to their song. But whatever it is, it benefits that artist and, at the same time, it benefits Combs. Generally speaking, most of these up and coming artists will see him as someone who has done what they hope to do, as someone who is bigger than life, perhaps as a legend. So to have him get behind what they’re doing is an amazing thing.
For Combs, though, it demonstrates that he is in touch with what is currently hot and that he gets it. It demonstrates that he respects the new school (whatever that currently is) and the new school respects him. It exposes him to that audience and when those artists that he supported get big – if they get big – they’ll remember who backed them early in their fame, rather than later, and they’ll always have respect for him. It’s very beneficial for them, but it is also very beneficial for Combs.
Community Manager is not a glamorous role, but it does come with a certain level of attention or “fame” within your community. You have an opportunity to use that attention in any way that you choose. It is easy to share that spotlight only with veteran members and proven, high value people who have made great contributions. But it is just as important to identify new members and up and comers who are doing cool things, shine the light on them, cater to them and get behind them.
That can mean that you publicly express appreciation and support for what they are doing. You can spotlight them. You can talk with them, listen to them and ask for their feedback.
The entertainment industry is ever in flux with new talent flowing into the mix every day. Your community is similar. A healthy community has a mix of veterans and newer people and it is by paying attention to both, not just one group, that you will continue to sustain relevance within your community and as a community.