The Weeknd has had a crazy summer. Besides the heavy radio airplay and chart success, his strong relationship with Silicon Valley giant Apple has been noticed by fans and media alike. The Canadian singer performed at Apple’s WWDC earlier this year and also had a string of advertisements for the tech giant during the MTV VMAs. In a conversation with Fast Company, Abek Tesfaye speaks about his close relationship with Apple as well as his personal branding. Read the entire article here and let us know what you think.
You were on stage at the Apple Music launch. You’re playing the Apple Music Festival. How did you first get involved with the brand and why?
“I’ve been friends with Jimmy since before I was signed. At least five or six years. We’ve always envisioned doing something big together but it just never happened. Finally one day he invited me over for dinner with another good friend of mine, Robbie Robertson from The Band, and that’s where I met Larry Jackson. Zane Lowe was also there. We all hung out, watched movies and discussed plans all night. Jimmy explained to me what he was doing with Apple and from then on I was on board. A few months later, I played he and Larry some of my album and we put together my performance for the launch of Apple Music. Once there, I got to connect with Tim Cook and the rest of the team at Apple, it was really an unforgettable afternoon.”
With the stage name, the free music and mixtapes, the scarcity of interviews and the subsequent veil of mystery—MBA marketing students have probably been drooling over your brand building skills for years. Do you consider yourself a brand? How do you balance being an artist, with the need to find, build, and maintain an audience?
“I feel like everything we do comes down to how it looks. Even no branding is branding. For example, you had no face or image to put to my music at first. That was branding. I spend just as much time on how people hear my music as I do the actual music, no matter how long it takes. I’m such a visual artist as well that it always goes hand-in-hand.”