Hip-Hop DJs Trigger Influx of Urban Marketing in Canada
TORONTO, April 30 /CNW/ - The hip-hop business generates over $2 billion
a year in sales across North America, but the gems who arguably have the
biggest influence in setting trends that drive sales in Canada are urban
"Canadian DJs are key trendsetters here, the way hip-hop artists are in
the US," says Mike Zafiris, founder of the Stylus Group, an organization
formed to recognize, develop and represent urban DJs in Canada. Zafiris is
seen as a pioneer in this industry, having worked on the business side of
hip-hop for over 15 years. He developed and runs Flavor Pool, Canada's largest
urban/hip-hop music pool that services DJs with new releases.
"Canadian corporations are now catching onto 'urban marketing' something
that many US companies have already recognized," says Zafiris. In the US,
companies like Pepsi and several others have their own dedicated DJ divisions.
"The numbers prove it; DJs are incredibly valuable in marketing a company's
products. They are very good for business," adds Zafiris.
Consider the impact of the urban scene - it touches every aspect of a
young adult's life from music to fashion, from technology to art:
The average Canadian teenager wakes up in the morning and throws on his
Mark Ecko shirt and Sean John jeans. Then he sports his new Jay-Z Reebok
sneakers and Roc-a-Wear jacket. He grabs something to eat at McDonalds, throws
his I-pod on and listens to the latest Gwen Stefani CD. He plays the new
50-Cent video game on his portable Playstation, answers a call on his Nokia
cell phone that has a new Nas ring tone on it, and the list of influences goes
Mainstream businesses are now paying attention to Canadian DJs. 4Korners
for example, are the official DJs for all of the Toronto Raptors games at the
Air Canada Centre. They are also sponsored by Roots. DJ Dopey is MTV's daily
DJ on MTV Live. Rogers Music Store and the Nokia 5300 XpressMusic mobile
phone, appreciating the value of cross-promotion, will co-present the Stylus
DJ Awards this year, giving them direct access to the tastemakers of today's
youth and lifestyle markets.
"We are pleased to be partnering with the Rogers MusicStore on this
initiative," said Carla Carmichael, Director of Marketing, Nokia Canada. "With
music playing such an important role in the lives of Canadians, we are excited
to be supporting the awards and recognizing the achievements of Canadian DJs."
Many other Canadian DJs are sponsored by clothing companies and DJ
equipment companies. Clothing has actually played a big role here in Canada.
"Stores like Athlete's World and Foot Locker can look more like hip-hop videos
than retail stores," says Zafiris.
In the US, DJs have signed deals not only with record labels, but also
with car companies, fast food chains and liquor brands. Some DJs even host
their own TV shows. Interest from these types of industries is now growing in
Canada as well, as the urban DJ community profile grows.
Last year for example, the Stylus Group hosted Canada's first-ever
national DJ awards show, the Stylus DJ Awards, which also included inducting
two hip-hop veterans, Butcher T., and the Sunshine Sound Crew into the
Canadian Hall of Fame for their lifetime contributions to the urban music
industry. It was the brainchild of Zafiris, and the attention and level of
success this awards show received, prompted its return this year. This year's
show will be held in Toronto on June 4, 2007 and is co-presented by Rogers
Music Store and the Nokia 5300 XpressMusic mobile phone. In addition to Rogers
Music Store and the Nokia 5300, the awards show has already received a host of
supporters including MuchVIBE, Flow 93.5FM, Sean John, Ortofon, American
Audio, Pioneer, Universal Music, Sony BMG, Warner Music, Koch Entertainment
and myTego Inc., and interest in additional sponsorship opportunities is
"This awards show was created to recognize the efforts and
accomplishments of the country's most influential urban lifestyle players -
DJs, emcees and the industry's top tastemakers," says DJ Starting from
Scratch, official DJ of the 2007 Stylus DJ Awards and three-time winner from
the 2006 awards.
"Canadian DJs have a direct impact on which artist becomes hot and which
one does not in Canada - before artists break into the mainstream, it's the
hip-hop DJs that introduce their music to the hottest clubs in town," adds
Zafiris. "Usher, 50 Cent, Eminem and the Black Eyed Peas are great examples of
this. DJs are the hip-hop industry's lifeblood in Canada, and to urban music
lovers, DJs hold a celebrity status."
Canadian urban DJs are recognized internationally as being the best in
their field, winning numerous turntable competitions, and playing with the
hottest artists around the world. DJ A-Trak from Montreal became the youngest
DJ ever at 19, to win several international DJ competitions including the DMC,
ITF, and Vextax world championships. These are the three biggest DJ
competitions. He then went on to join six-time Grammy award winning rapper and
record producer, Kanye West as his touring DJ.
According to Zafiris, the impact of urban DJs can be felt with a simple
visit to the country's entertainment districts and nightclubs, from coast to
coast. Whereas a local urban hip-hop artist may attract a few hundred people
to a given show, many DJs routinely bring in thousands of patrons to clubs
every week, and sometimes two to three times a week.
That popularity prompts in-the-know business executives to get involved
in Canada's new urban marketing scene. Zafiris believes that there is a lot
more potential for this genre of marketing to grow in Canada.
"The popularity of hip-hop is at an all time high, and what was once an
underground movement has now become a mainstay in Canadian culture both from a
lifestyle perspective and a business perspective," says Zafiris.
About the 2007 Stylus DJ Awards
The 2007 Stylus DJ Awards is co-presented by Rogers Music Store and the
Nokia 5300 XpressMusic mobile phone and will take place on June 4th in Toronto
at the Palais Royale Ballroom, 1601 Lakeshore Blvd. W. Tickets will be
available for $25 through Ticket Break, at www.stylusgroup.ca, and Play de
Record in Toronto. For more information, please visit www.stylusgroup.ca.
Nokia is a world leader in mobile communications, driving the growth and
sustainability of the broader mobility industry. Nokia connects people to each
other and the information that matters to them with easy-to-use and innovative
products like mobile phones, devices and solutions for imaging, games, media
and businesses. Nokia provides equipment, solutions and services for network
operators and corporations. www.nokia.ca.
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