Ryan Leslie is not just another artist. I personally remember him posting videos on YouTube that showed his amazing ability to create quality music. He’s an incredibly intelligent person that scored a perfect score on his SAT’s and entered Harvard as a 15-year-old (yes, 15… don’t feel bad, I know I don’t). But that’s not the whole story. He fought homelessness. Rejection. Failure. Everything creatives struggle with he’s endured, and persevered through. Success doesn’t mandate that you go to the best school or even receive the best education, but what’s paramount is that you continue to learn from your experiences throughout the journey. Looking at him now you still see him as an artist but what actually makes him stand out is his entrepreneurial work ethic. Here are some of his best lessons.

Create Multiple Touch Points

Ryan Leslie currently has a startup platform, called Disruptive Media, that allows artists to be in full control of their own careers. This includes releasing albums, orchestrating shows, and cultivating a following. Ryan Leslie is one of  few artists who has actually pulled his music off iTunes; his last two releases (MZRT and Black Mozart) can only be purchased from Ryan Leslie himself. Artists currently relying on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and iTunes don’t receive access to important data they could use to their advantage.


Use Data

Buying the album directly from Ryan Leslie’s platform allows you, the artist, access to the most important data available. You now have the personal data that will allow you to reach out to each and every fan or follower you have directly. How many copies of the album have they bought? What feedback did they give you? Where do they live? Have they been to a show?  These data points can give you the opportunity to cultivate unique relationships with people who spent their hard earned money to actually support your work.

No More Middle Man

Now we know cutting out the middle man does increase profit margins but it also puts the onus on the creator because your rewards are now linked directly to how hard you work. Ryan Leslie doesn’t have the following of a Drake, Kanye West, or Jay-Z but he uses this model to be successful on his own terms. It serves the artists with smaller followings to take matters into their own hands because it’s easier to reach out and speak to a few hundred or couple thousand fans rather than hundreds of thousands of fans. For someone building their following, the small number of people who support and promote your work, should be your focus.

Connect with them, delight them, and engage them. They will always put you on.


Create Daily

So what can artists and creatives take from this example? The main takeaway is this: there is no one path to success, but there are many different ways to be successful when you choose to do things in an unconventional way. Understanding who’s supporting you and reaching out to those fans can prove to be extremely beneficial to your career regardless of the field.


Working hard is great, but working smarter  can be the difference to accelerating Your success in the future.

Make sure you keep up to date with Leslie on Twitter, and peep his exclusive Renegades Club!

If you want to really learn how the hustle goes, check out this in-depth interview from the Combat Jack Show!