Professional Development
Arts / Marketing / Media / Social media

How social media took Asher Roth from Philly suburbs to hip hop stardom

“I didn’t realize the power that MySpace is now,” said the Bucks County native currently behind a major candidate for song of the summer.

Jonathan Viventi. (Photo courtesy of NYU)
It’s going to be that anthem you hear over and over again this summer, and the artist behind it happens to have grown up in Bucks County, a half hour Regional Rail ride into Center City.

Like a growing collection of young artists, Asher Roth, the artist behind “I Love College,” found his path to a major label album by way of MySpace. But it seems likely he’ll see more than Internet fame.
I helped profile Asher Roth on the cover of today’s Philadelphia Weekly, but during our interview last month, we also spoke about the role social media have had on launching his career.

Roth just might be the first genuine star to have not only been discovered via a social network but also stapled his career prospects to social media.
He is regularly pushing next Monday’s release of his debut album “Under the Bread Aisle,” to his 20,000 followers on Twitter. He’s on the basics like Facebook and Flickr.
And, of course, you can follow his growth on YouTube.
Watch him rhyming before his record deal. There was the time he first met fellow SRC label mate Akon last May. He drove around with Cee-Lo of Gnarls Barkley, who makes an appearance on Asher’s album, and had dinner with Ludacris in July. When his first mainstream media came on Late Night with Carson Daly in November.
“The street is the street… but that’s changing,” says Steve Rifkind, the founder of SRC, the label Asher is on, a division of Universal. “It’s also wherever the college street is, and, also, the street’s on the Internet now.”
But, for Roth, it started with MySpace.
“It was everything. I was promoting without promoting. I wasn’t going to open mic nights telling people to go to my MySpace… I didn’t have to,” says Roth, a native of Morrisville and graduate of Pennsbury High School. “I didn’t realize the power that MySpace is now.”
In fall 2006, Atlanta-based manager Scooter Braun received a MySpace friend request from Roth.
“I took one look, saw a white boy in a hoodie, and I said ‘What the fuck?” Braun says. The music was good enough, Braun says, but he liked Asher’s rhymes. “He wasn’t comfortable in his own skin. I was interested, but not sold.”
At that point, Roth had 112 MySpace friends and just 64 Facebook fans. Now those numbers are more than 65,000 and nearly 33,000 respectively.
“I think at the end of the day, all these resources on the Internet, you might meet someone, you know, on Twitter. All of these have value because at the end of the day, it only takes that one phone call,” Braun says. “Whether that person finds you on MySpace or YouTube or Twitter or wherever, they end up finding you. Take advantage of all those resources because it only takes that one eyeball of the millions that are online.”
Braun called a number listed on Roth’s MySpace profile and, weeks later, they met in Atlanta. Weeks after that, a deal was inked and the next great social media star was born, but Braun takes issue with Roth being called a MySpace star. If anything, he says, Roth should be called a blog star.
�The way Asher has broke in, no one has done it before. No one has broken in on the blogs and gone gold in five weeks,� Braun says. “The distribution line in my marketing plan was the blog. Nah rights, the 2DopeBoyz, the illRoots, the SOHHs, even the one time he was on Perez Hilton. The blogs are where people are turning for their information. They are the mixtapes and the magazines combined. And they�re really a distribution tool.”
Now, he’s showing up everywhere, from MTV to the Wall Street Journal.
“It would be foolish not to really use the Internet now. That’s where everybody is,” Roth says. “The CD that’s about to drop is huge for the blogs. If this album is extremely successful, it’s going to show that the power is back with the people.”
“You don’t have to go to the radio anymore.”
Below, watch Asher talk to Grind.TV about how the Internet helped give him the megaphone he has today.
And on those ties to Philadelphia? Well, he has them whether he knows it or not, as you can see from a nice rhyme he gave BET’s Rap City with Center City in the background.

Companies: MySpace
People: Asher Roth

Knowledge is power!

Subscribe for free today and stay up to date with news and tips you need to grow your career and connect with our vibrant tech community.

Technically Media