In September 2017, Lizzo released “Truth Hurts”, the tune that “put the sing in single”. And immediately… nothing happened. Sure, the video was well-received among fans, and Lizzo promoted the heck out of it on social media, but that wasn’t enough for the general public.
Fast forward almost exactly two years to the date and “Truth Hurts” is #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Lizzo’s social media channels exploded. Since April, she's gained almost 5M new Instagram followers, her number of Spotify followers increased by five times to over 1M, and monthly views of “Truth Hurts” on YouTube rose from 0.5M to an incredible 21M. The video broke the 10M threshold in the beginning of May and currently has more than 144M views, without counting live performances, lyric videos, and covers.
What happened to reset Lizzo’s trajectory? What we found out in our analysis can almost be summed up into a business case.
There are 4 key steps to successfully pitching yourself as the next chart-topping hit:
1. Create your story and own it.
Going beyond the “big and beautiful” trope, Lizzo brings in intelligence and, most importantly, a great sense of humour to everything she has to say. But above all, she's honest and therefore unique in her work.
2. Get on Music Supervisor’s radar.
This year, Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts” was picked up for Netflix’s rom-com “Someone Great” and was included in a particularly memorable scene. The movie first aired 19 April 2019, and Netflix published the “Someone Great Dancing Scene” with Gina Rodriguez and DeWanda Wise as a standalone video on 27 April. People apparently went nuts over how crazily relatable the situation was and flocked to Lizzo’s video. As Viberate data proves, Netflix’s exposure was the trigger that skyrocketed the song on YouTube – all thanks to music professionals who remembered it and recognized it as the perfect mood-setter.
3. Learn how to ride the wave.
While very important, the Netflix boost was just one part of Lizzo’s pitch to fame. In April 2019, she also performed her heart out onstage everywhere from San Francisco to Seattle (including April’s Coachella) where she promoted “Tempo”, the newly released collab with her lifelong idol Missy Elliot. Plus, she still had time to contribute to the TikTok #DNAtest meme that exploded at that same time. That not only made Lizzo a staple of all major summer festivals from Glastonbury to Austin City Limits, but also assured her valuable exposure in televised events such as the BET Awards and the MTV VMAs.
A millennial herself, Lizzo understands her audience. She expects that over-the-top performances like twerking in a bridal outfit while simultaneously playing the flute and yelling “Bitch!” will be noticed and go viral – and she’s 100% on the money. Her Instagram spike following her BET and Glastonbury performances in June 2019 is clear proof of that. Since June, when she had approximately 1.5M followers, her following increased by 4M and her live performance at the BET Awards alone has 16M views on YouTube.
Lizzo combines all that it takes to get ahead: she’s unique and hardworking, therefore appreciated by industry professionals, and also funny, relatable and fluent in netspeak, which makes her loved by her audiences and peers. She carefully built a platform to be heard, and now all that remains is for her to…
4. Be loud.
Judging from the latest performances and interviews, Lizzo’s presence cannot be denied. She's extending her platform to give a voice to the LGBT community, her thoughts on entertainers as role models for young people, everything that is worth talking about, and thus furthering her influence.
The truth’s in the numbers:
• Lizzo gained almost 5M Instagram followers in five months.
• The number of her Spotify followers increased by five times.
• Since April, the average monthly YouTube views of “Truth Hurts” rose from 0.5M to 21M.
Lizzo’s success is a great example of how a well-placed feature can help propel an artist’s career. The people behind this are the Music Supervisors, who are on the constant lookout for something fresh to score series and movies with. Just ask The Handsome Family, a relatively obscure Americana band, whose 2003 song “Far from Any Road” unexpectedly became the theme song to the hit series "True Detective" in 2014 and rose to worldwide fame with millions of YouTube views to this day. It took Lizzo a while to arrive on the global stage, but she's definitely done it. And everybody has noticed.
Cover photo source: Apple Music Awards 2019
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