Everything I Know About Marketing I Learned from Sammy Adams

Sammy Adams Blow Up

Edit: Sammy was kind enough to read this post and retweet it. Needless to say, it was the best day of my life, by a HUGE margin.

Sammy Adams Tweets "This is Dope!"

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m a huge Sammy Adams fan.

I don’t care if it’s “frat rap,” he writes songs that have a ton of energy and I love them. I’ve been bumping Sammy while working recently and kept noticing parallels between his lyrics and marketing strategy (if that’s not the most sickeningly millennial startuppy sentence you’ve read, show me what is).

This makes sense though, if you think about it. Today’s musicians basically have to be content marketers if they want to make a living. The songs they put out are the content that helps connect them to an audience, and hopefully draw them in to purchase their paid products (concert tickets, merchandise, VIP deals). And for artists like Sammy, who don’t get much radio play (no idea why this is, maybe someone who understands the radio industry can fill me in), they have to use the same channels as the rest of us: website, social, paid and in-person.

I don’t know anything about Sammy Adams’ financials, but I can give some strong anecdotal evidence that his team has crushed it as content marketers.

  • He puts out a lot of great music, which I listen to for free on his YouTube channel. His videos add something to the song (for some reason I love the simplicity of this one) and often are a bit controversial, which makes them highly shareable.
  • He tailors his message to his audience, which means he writes a lot of songs about figuring life out as a young adult (with a healthy sprinkling of songs about drinking Jäger with your boys and wanting to hook up with Taylor Swift).
  • He connects with fans through multiple channels (he’s one of around 10 people I follow on Instagram who I don’t know personally).
I particularly love Sammy because he is a fellow ex-dIII soccer player. I think he was better than me though, dammit
I particularly love Sammy because he is a fellow ex-dIII soccer player. I think he was better than me though… dammit

It’s only after he’s provided all of this value that he asks for anything in return. And guess what? All of that top-of-the-funnel work has paid off, at least in my case. I just bought a $65 ticket (what is that, like 150 packages of ramen??) to a show next month, which includes a meet-and-greet with Sammy. I can barely contain my glee thinking about the profile pic potential.

The Proof is in the Pudding

With all this in mind, let’s look at some of Mr. Adams’ lyrics. While being a successful rapper is much more likely to get you laid than being a content marketer is, it seems they both take a similar mindset.

Only thing that matters in the long run is the fans/ And judgin’ by the show of hands who’s the fuckin’ man? Remember


This is a theme that Sammy emphasizes in his work— that the satisfaction of the fans is the only thing to worry about, and if that’s taken care of, everything else will fall into place. In tech, people tend to call fans “users” or “customers” but it’s the exact same message you hear over and over: if you truly listen to your customer and make their life better/easier/more fun, you’re going to do alright.

This is where that magical term “product/market fit” comes from. When your fans really love you, you have product/market fit, and everything flows. As Marc Andreesen put it when he coined the term, “You start getting entrepreneur of the year awards from Harvard Business School. Investment bankers are staking out your house. You could eat free for a year at Buck’s.” The trouble, of course, is getting there.

Loyal to my fans so I only put out bangers –Kings

In a similar vein as the first quote, Sammy is saying that he doesn’t compromise on quality because he’s loyal to the fans who fuel his business. You should think about this when you’re pondering including a feature in your app that encourages users to spam their friends or if you’re selling a product that you don’t really believe in (by the way, if you’ve never worked at a startup before, both of these pressures almost always exist). It might pop your growth in the short term, but this is a long game.

Took some advice I should’ve passed on/ Shoulda put another album on the fire left the motherfuckin’ gas on Remember

I love this line, and I think it applies well to business in general. Sammy is saying that he should have kept pumping out music when he was hot after his first album’s popularity. I think people need to be reminded that if you find something that’s working, you should double, triple, quadruple down on it. What’s the point of all that experimentation and A/B testing if you never bet on what works? Momentum is a temporary thing, especially as the sheer volume of content in the world continues to grow. You have to seize it when you can.

And if you ain’t proactive, you might as well wrap it/ Send the crew home, get the bags start packin’ Remember

This is advice I could’ve used when I first started out. I’ve always liked to sit back and wait for people and opportunities to come to me. Up until the end of college, this worked well for me: you do well in school and your next steps fall into place; if you’re generally nice and fun to hang out with you’ll have an active social life, if you work hard at a sport you’ll be good and people will notice, etc.

When you’re starting out with a company no one has ever heard of, though, you can’t sit back and keep quiet. No one knows who you are, and no one is going to care unless you show up and make them care. You must be proactive, you must yell into the microphone even if it makes you uncomfortable, you must get the word out or you’ll be finished before you really got started.

I’ve been workin’ all night, man— what’s a young kid gotta do to blow up? –Blow Up


Content marketers love to talk about work-life balance, work-life integration, workflow, work routines, “putting in the work”… my guess is, if you read all of the Medium posts on the subject, you’d never work again! My one-sentence view is this: Be it lots of 6 hour days or lots of 14 hour days, you will have to put it in a lot of time to be successful/ “blow up.”

So deuces to the school life, welcome to the game/ A major without a major homie look what I became Blow Up

Another favorite topic of people in startups is the relative utility of school versus real-world education. I loved school and think it was incredibly valuable, I’m really glad I went to college.

But, I’ve definitely learned much more about the realities of creating things and making money off of them in 2 years out of school than I did in 4 years in school. I think that’s usually the case and there is a lot to be said for real-world education. Ideally, I think every college student who’s interested in business should have a little side business to mess around with and learn from while they’re pursuing more traditional studies.

There’s more, but I’ll let you find ’em for yourself. If you like the music, and you’re comfortable going to a show that I imagine will be mostly drunk 19 year old girls and their boyfriends and me, support Sammy by buying some tickets.

2 Comment

  1. Hi, why are you using my photo? I never recieved an email asking permission to use it.

    1. jhovde2121@gmail.com says: Reply

      Hi Zayn,

      I really apologize and thanks for reaching out– I just google image’d and didn’t really think about it. I realize that’s not much of an excuse but that’s what happened! I’ll take it down, and again I’m sorry, and great picture.


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