It's no surprise that Def Jam rapper Logic caters directly to his fans. In the two weeks leading up to his second studio album The Incredible True Story, released in November 2015, the Gaithersburg, Md., native shelled out well over $100,000 of his own money to rent a tour bus, driver and documentary team to chronicle a trek from Los Angeles to New York, stopping at fans' houses in cities along the way to play them the new album and meet them face to face.
"I tried to make them feel better, I tried to tell them life can be hard, keep your chin up, whatever, follow your dreams, and [I was] just being a positive guy," the 27-year-old told Billboard during an interview at his California home in April. The support goes further than just words; in his rec room, Logic has roughly 20 paintings hung on the wall that he commissioned from a fan. "I was like, 'Damn. These people are telling me I saved their lives and I didn't even try.' Could you imagine what would happen if I did?"
That's the reason Logic says he made his most recent album Everybody, and it paid off. The LP, released on May 5 via Visionary/Def Jam Recordings, became his first release to top the Billboard 200, notching 247,000 equivalent album units in the week ending May 11, according to Nielsen Music. But it was how the set was sold that makes it such a milestone for both Logic and Def Jam. In the past, the imprint has used direct-to-fan stores to sell merchandise and albums with artists like Justin Bieber and Jeezy, but the returns weren't nearly as robust.
According to the label, Logic sold 115,000 copies of Everybody through a dedicated online shop by bundling it with one-of-a-kind merchandise, like a print of the album cover or a 44-page book, setting a record for first-week direct-to-consumer sales for not just Def Jam, but all of Universal Music Group.
"We know that [Logic] over-indexes when it comes to the consumer segmentation that defines the uber fan," says Faisel Durrani, general manager/executive vp at Def Jam. "That's really the core of understanding the opportunity. Because he over-indexes with that uber fan, it's really about finding out how many different products can I create for this uber fan? To do that, we figure out all the assets we have and the best way to create different products in the marketplace through all of our different partners, including our own D2C store."
Direct-to-fan is nothing new, but it's becoming an increasingly valuable tool amid the rising prevalence of streaming and provides additional returns to profit, such as mining and analyzing consumer data for a more targeted marketing campaign in the future. With Everybody, Def Jam was able to use data from a prior digital Logic store to its advantage. "I think that we are able to control the message to the consumer, speak directly to the consumer because of the data that we have, and also to create more different product lines that can exist in the marketplace," continues Durrani. "It's the beginning of having a relationship with our customer. Now it goes back to that fan who has made a purchase in our store. There's a lot of rich data to truly start our relationship with them."
"Our focus has been to drive and execute special, tiered product offerings around the brave and innovative new album from Logic," says Def Jam CEO Steve Bartels. "In today's marketplace, social metrics and data analytics are measurable and actionable in real time, and our teams have been able to read Logic's core super-fans' demands and offer access to the very things they want: great music, great products and a deeper connection to the artist."
Offering a limited window period likely increased that demand. The site, located at allaboutthefans.com, served as a sort of digital pop-up store, launching on April 7 and closing on May 11 at 11:59 p.m. It was driven primarily through social media accounts for Def Jam and Logic, the latter of whom has 1.2 million followers on Twitter and often interacts with fans on the platform. What makes the sales more notable, though, is that Logic isn't a traditionally marketable artist. He's yet to have a sizable hit at radio and his most recent single, "1-800-273-8255" featuring Alessia Cara and Khalid, is his highest-charting song on The Hot 100, currently sitting at No. 47.
Still, it's the type of fan response to Logic's digital store that makes the prospect of allocating more resources to the D2C marketplace increasingly enticing, and has Durrani saying that Def Jam will "100 percent" be incorporating the strategy into marketing plans moving forward. "I think it's a growing field," says Durrani. "I think there's a greater focus that's given to this part of the business today than perhaps it was two, three, five years ago. I do agree Logic completely over-indexes with his uber fans, and I think that this is a growing space that we are more focused on today."