“1st book I’ve ever bought in my entire life” tweets @trapster_toxic and he attaches a photo of Self Belief: The Vision the book written by 23 year old entrepreneur Jamal Edwards. Originally only available as an ebook, Jamal was approached by Random House who believed the book could have a bigger reach if he also published it traditionally. Interesting that the right person can persuade someone to read.
So who is he and why has Jamal captured the imagination of the teen generation where others have failed? TV and radio audiences between 16-35 are on consistent downward trend: 14 -25 yr olds listen to 134 minutes less radio than they did 5 years ago. Ben Cooper at Radio 1 freely admits to struggling to attract the attention of the ‘heads down’ generation. A term refuted here.
Jamal created youth channel SBTV seven years ago and it’s now one of YouTube’s most successful channels with over 350,000 subscribers.
Motivated by his friends who weren’t getting mainstream attention, he wanted to create a platform for them. He was filming his mates singing and rapping on his estate in West London and started uploading the videos to YouTube. But his main job was in Topman. Eventually as the hits increased Jamal received a percentage of money from adverts and he was able to pursue his dream job. The channel started out as music only but now he wants to branch out into comedy, fashion, business, games and gadgets – “everything for a young person.”
“My mate said I sent my video into MTV but they’re not playing it, they don’t like it. But I said it’s cool, I’m going to start my own network.” In addition to his friends he also pursued famous artists. The channel is known for grime and rap but he has gone on to include more mainstream musicians like Ed Sheeran. And it has undoubtedly helped Sheeran’s success in the urban world. Such is Jamal’s connection to the UK’s youth that he is now Ambassador for the Prince’s Trust and recently interviewed Prince Charles and Richard Branson.
1) Jamal responded to a need. He saw his friends were being ignored.
2) He never ignores them – or his mum- he genuinely engages sending 60 tweets a day sometimes. His friends have to contact him via Twitter rather than by text – it’s quicker.
3) He connects to his audience and is now a self-made multimillionaire but, he says, “I’m not motivated by the money.”