The success of an artist was once based on how many albums they sold. Those days are long gone, and with album sales rapidly declining we now have to cypher through Spotify plays, tour attendance, merchandise sales, Twitter followers, YouTube views and Facebook likes in order to see who is really killing it.

The problem is very few artists who do extremely well on all platforms, and nobody is the best at everything.

Mike Bars of Portland is a great example.

A quick run-down of Mike’s numbers, and how they stack up:

1: Rank on ReverbNation’s Portland Hip Hop charts; can’t be a bad thing

700: Followers on Twitter; above average

13,000: Views on his newest single; pretty good, and

100,000: Likes on his Facebook page; f*cking phenomenal.

He was still relatively unknown throughout Portland’s hip hop community until he released a hilarious music video for his single Grown Folks.

I once got a phone call from a friend who came across his Facebook page after watching the video. He saw that I had Liked the page and asked me, “Who the f*ck is Mike Bars, and how does he have 100,000 Likes on his Facebook page?”

The question made me laugh because it was the exact same reaction that I had when I came across his page.

Turns out Mike Bars is a Portland native who went to Cleveland High School and graduated in 2008. Still in the beginning stages of his career, he’s always had an instinct about how to get a reaction out of someone.

“I’ve always been the kind to try and shock people, and kind of loud and obnoxious. With the loud kid at school, people are either like ‘God, I fucking hate that kid’ or they’re like, ‘I like him, he’s funny.'”

Hip hop has always been a personal experience for Mike. He started writing rhymes at the age of 10–after learning the lyrics to Ludacris’ track Move Bitch.

“That was definitely not the cool thing back then. It wasn’t as accepted.” He continued, “After that I started writing, but I didn’t really tell anyone about it. I would write and record raps in my house on Garage Band… Eventually people started hating me. I was known as the white ‘gangster wannabe’ kid.”

Mike Bars focuses his attention and resources marketing his music online–especially on Facebook–instead of in his community and going on tours. His Facebook campaign is having massive success with headlines such as “Hate White Rappers? So Does Mike Bars”, and he is now known as “The white guy from Portland nobody in Portland seems to know, but over 100,000 people around the world like.”

Having the attention of that many people on any platform is phenomenal, but what does it mean?

“I think it means that a lot of people in Portland are completely unaware of what some people are doing outside the city,” said Leigh Feldman, Communications rep for TheOctopusCorp. “I’d also be curious to know how many of those people (that liked his Facebook page) are consumers who are buying albums and are going to show up to his shows.”

Compare Mike with an artist like Braille, who is the most successful rapper in Portland in my opinion. Braille has toured internationally, made an album with S1, has tracks with 9th Wonder, and has made a living off of music for his entire adult life, but he only–I say ‘only’ by comparison–has about 12,000 likes on Facebook.

A report by showed that “Facebook is the better measure of sustained, organic success” when compared with other social media outlets, but it still is not perfect.

A good test when it comes to judging the success of a social media campaign is the FRY (Frequency-Reach-Yield) test.

  • Did the campaign increase how often your fans buy from you? (Frequency)
  • Did it increase your total number of fans? (Reach)
  • Did it increase how much each fan spends with you. (Yield)

Mike is still working on finishing up his album The Mikerophone, and it will be interesting to see how his popularity on Facebook  transitions into revenue.