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2019, after officially becoming independent, Damso contacted me to talk about his future projects.

QALF is one of them. He has been talking about this project for years now. Everybody was waiting for it.

Although his marketing skills are quite sharp since the beginning of his career, he had one serious concern. Coming from a major organisation, he didn’t have all the knowledge and information he needed.

He is making the transition to full entrepreneurship and needed my help & expertise in branding, technology and logistic to navigate through it.

Brand Clarity

After a deep series of conversations, I was able to fully grasp the circumstances that he was dealing with.

His decision to not renew his contract with his previous label sparked tension between them. I understood why he decided to no reply and focus on his journey. That was smart and well though decision.

I understood that he was in a tricky position: everybody was waiting and excepting something from him. That’s understandable.

Most importantly, I understood that he didn’t want to make a specific genre for the project. QALF is an acronym for “Qui m’Aime, me Like ou me Follow” (who love me, like me or follow me).

He wanted to create art, share it and let fans enjoy it.

With that understanding, I helped him define the visual and interactive experiences that he wanted for this project.

Brand Development

Damso had a rough idea of how his brand should look. After a brand check process, I found it that the idea was already used and could potently hurt the strategy (copyright issues).

The angle that I chose to take was based on one important principle that I took from our exchanges:

“Fidele, I want to let the music speak from itself.”
— Damso

From there, I came up with this concept: if the most important thing about QALF is the artistry and nothing else then, let’s do nothing. And by doing nothing, it became everything.

In collaboration with Romain Garcin, we went through a series of iterations and process to get the result that we wanted.

QALF packaging designed by Romain Garcin
QALF CD Packaging

The impact on the world

Of course, we wouldn’t be able to make such an impact with just “doing nothing”.

On the front end, that’s exactly how people feel. That was our goal.

However on the back end, a lot of important things needed to be done.

From branding & web development to marketing without forgetting the distribution, everything needed to be on point to make it work.

August 27th, Damso added a new link to his bio on Twitter and Instagram. On the website, people could pre-order the CD (without any information about the cover, length or even the tracklisting). Wherever you were on earth, you could do it. That’s an important detail. We wanted to give African fans the possibility to live that experience with us. For various reasons, they are often forgotten.

72 hours later, more than 10.000 copies pre-ordered without any traditional marketing. This is the result of building a brand and having targeted messaging.

Strategic POV – I am pretty sure that you’re asking yourself: people still really buy CDs?! Obviously, the answer is YES. Especially this year.
My research and thinking made me though: people won’t be able to pay for live experiences, thus saving a lot of money. Buying CDs or Vinyles would be the best way to experience the art safely at home (a good occasion to plug their old CD player).

September 18th, we officially release the project on all streaming platform. And something amazing happened. During the first 24 hours, we broke a record: most streamed artist in the world on Spotify!

One month later, we are officially platinum. Independently.

Some didn’t liked the artistic position that Damso took. Many loved and respected that.

That strategy was risky of course. However, I never doubt that it would work.

“Most important thing is to get rid of doubt. If you got doubt in what you’re doing it’s not gonna work.”
— Nipsey Hussle

Take care.
Yours Truly 🌹

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