Check out your syllabus. Now check out your other syllabus. Now your other one. Stressful, right? Looking down the barrel of the tests, quizzes and projects that are going to have your name on them can induce sweat, but here’s something to cool you off. There are people here at MU doing their thing to make sure that you can do yours.
The website HowToStayFresh.com is an up-and-coming pop culture compilation website co-founded by junior Vincent Vitale. I spoke with Vincent and asked him about how and why he got started with HTSF.
“It all started with rapper J. Cole,” he said. “I loved J. Cole and his music, and thought he was very gifted and talented. Soon everybody liked J. Cole and I was like hold up, I knew about this a long time ago. So my best friend JT Kim and I were like, 'We need to start a website about what is fresh, what is brand new, that people don't know about.' So we made various categories and sought out talent that hadn’t been seen before.” The site saw substantial growth, reaching more than 100,000 hits in just over a couple months.
How To Stay Fresh is more than a guide to the newest, tightest clothes. With the growing reader base and hit count, Vitale sees HTSF turning in to “… something special. I want to unite people who are creative. Musicians with writers, people with any type of talent. I want to help people get their work out to the world.” And already, the site is doing just that.
“How To Stay Fresh led me to a lot of great artists around Mizzou, such as Matt Smith (GraMattyk),” Vincent said. “I found him, and I shared him through the site. A site like this could lead people to discover real talent.”
But How To Stay Fresh isn’t just a get-famous vehicle or a money-making device. It stays true to its original philosophy: finding fresh, real talent and sharing it. “I haven't advertised on the site yet because it's not about the money, it's about the movement,” Vincent said." HowToStayFresh.com isn't a trend, it's a lifestyle.”
MU graduate Chase Lauer is reaching people with a slightly different strategy- branding. Lauer is the founder of Mizzou-oriented music website CampusMUsick, meant to be interpreted as ‘Campus MU Sick.’ I sat down with Chase at another one of his business ventures, Salty’s Bar & Grill.
CampusMUsick started as a breakaway from other music sites. Chase was representing various talents around Columbia and submitting their work to blogs and music websites.
“Eventually I said, 'Why are we going to GoodMusicAllDay, when we could start something at Mizzou that could be our music blog?" Lauer said. "We could still cover all these national acts from East Coast to West Coast … What if we make one at Mizzou, and I brand CampusMUsick as the brand, and then I can buy other blogs and expand?'”
Chase took his site to the next level soon after it started, using CampusMUsick to promote and host shows at The Blue Note and push the brand.
“We realized really quickly that we needed to attach a headliner to these shows,” Lauer said. “That was the first time we brought in Machine Gun Kelly (MGK for short). Then I threw a couple Napalm shows. That was it, man. I actually just had a meeting with The Blue Note today. They said, ‘I’ve got MGK, White Panda and The Dean’s List all on separate days, what do you want to promote them?’”
Lauer has also applied his branding approach to the newly-reformed Memoir Nightclub, Salty’s Bar and Grill. With a new name, new logo, new custom drinks, newly re-done interior and recently acquired Rush’s Pizza, Salty’s looks like a promising change in the bar scene. “We knew we could brand it, that’s why we went with Salty’s,” Lauer said. Lauer uses good-humored prankster-esque marketing strategies to promote the bar, such as free drink coupons that look like $5 bills at first glance, and posts on websites with misleading titles. He calls it “salting.” “We want it to be fun,” he said.
With the start of the new year, rest assured that your lopsided school and social schedules will balance out. CampusMUsick is closely tied with the upcoming Missouri Muzic Fest (Sept. 2-4), which will feature performances by Sky Blu of LMFAO and Jeremih to name a few — one event of many to come from various groups and organizations this year.
It’s comforting to know that with all the stress the year is sure to bring, there will be a good stream of new music and events in and around Columbia. And above all, it’s good to know that whether it be pop culture, new bars or new music, the MU network is keeping it fresh and salty.