Connect with us

Net Influencer


Music Industry Innovator Ryan Ruden Shares His No. 1 Tip For Financial Success As A Creator

Music industry veteran Ryan Ruden founded Aerial Entertainment, a firm focused on guiding artists and brands to thrive in the rapidly evolving creator economy. After leadership stints at major music companies like Shady Records and Columbia Records, Ryan is now laser-focused on empowering independent acts and helping them break through from niche fandoms into the mainstream consciousness.

Music Industry Innovator Ryan Ruden Shares His No. 1 Tip For Financial Success As A Creator

Aerial Entertainment’s suite of services spans music marketing, content optimization across digital platforms, unique gaming activations and sponsorships, and financial literacy education. A core philosophy for Ryan is enabling artists to own their own fan data and facilitate direct-to-fan relationships, insulating creators from the whims of any single platform or social media upheaval.

“I love where music, technology, and gaming meet,” he says. His passion for this intersection began early, booking bands at American University and going on tour as a road manager for artists like Mary J. Blige and Ozzy Osbourne. After the touring life, Ryan shifted to the business side. He worked in management for Eminem and then in marketing and business development roles at major labels. 

It was at Columbia that Ryan truly embraced bringing music and tech together through innovative projects like booking and producing TwitchCon’s music lineup, launching a kids’ label called Jam Jr., partnering with Grimes and Discord, and producing Roblox’s first ground-breaking concert with Lil Nas X.

After a stint at Universal Music, he started Aerial Entertainment in 2023. The seasoned manager aims to provide a “macro” view for artists and brands navigating the intersection of music, tech, and rights management.  

Music Industry Innovator Ryan Ruden Shares His No. 1 Tip For Financial Success As A Creator

Guiding Artists and Brands in the Creator Economy

For Ryan, a key mission is helping artists achieve their creative vision while building sustainable businesses around their core fanbases: “Our mission is simple: to cut through the noise. We help music, entertainment, gaming, and technology clients create compelling concepts & content, craft brand strategy, and build audiences & partnerships to forge new revenue streams.”

While platform democratization allows anyone to create, Ryan’s firm aims to guide artists in executing their artistic goals while zeroing in on specific niche audiences. 

“You can build a multi-million dollar business off 1,000 or 5,000 fans. You don’t need 10 million followers,” Ryan notes, adding that focusing on a tight-knit core fan base is often more viable for independent artists than chasing mainstream success. The goal is to go from subculture to mainstream, and many artists often want to skip this critical step.

For brand clients, Aerial helps shape music strategy and leverage music culture for customer acquisition. “It’s helping them understand how to navigate the complex industry, use the best music, and use music as a connective tissue to culture to create attribution back to the brand,” Ryan explains.

The company is also developing its own original IP in partnership with Chartis, “Hart Island,” an upcoming horror experience inside Fortnite using the UNREAL engine and aspiring to become “the number one horror game on the platform.”

Aerial’s Distinct Approach to Boosting Independent Artists and Brands

What sets Aerial Entertainment apart is Ryan’s keen eye for identifying talented independent artists with significant growth potential, even if they initially seem niche or unconventional. 

A prime example is the duo Black Grpyh0n, whom Ryan discovered via his son Ben, making music centered around fandoms like Five Nights at Freddy’s and Hazbin Hotel. Despite often being overlooked by labels and the industry, Ryan supported Nate Brown and Gabe Brown, aka Black Gryph0n, to help them amplify their song “Insane” to over 200 million Spotify streams, a #9 Billboard Dance chart position, a gold record, and even an emote in Fortnite – all while maintaining their independence and total ownership of their music. Black Gryph0n will be joining Ryan on stage at this year’s Vidcon.

“Much of my job is to try to find new opportunities that help the artists share and socialize their creative vision,” Ryan explains. His strategies tap into internet culture, gaming, and an innate understanding of how to activate fan communities. Aerial’s services span five key pillars: 

  • Concept Creation & Ideation: Turn creative ideas into actionable strategies that drive business results.
  • Content Strategy: Craft compelling narratives and content that resonate with target audiences.
  • Strategic Partnerships: Leverage extensive industry networks to build successful collaborations and generate incremental revenue.
  • Audience Growth: Nurture and expand audience bases through data-driven insights.
  • Connecting People: Foster strategic relationships and prospects with key decision-makers and experts across multiple industries.

Ryan at VidCon Anaheim 

VidCon is an annual convention for digital creators, video makers, and influencers. It began as a dedicated convention for YouTube and content creators across various online video platforms. Over the years, it has grown to include creators from other social media like TikTok, Instagram, Twitch and more. The event features Creator tracks, performances, meet-ups, and more.

At the upcoming VidCon event, which takes place June 26-29 in Anaheim, Ryan takes the stage on Thursday, June 27, 2:35 PM – 3:10 PM (PT), in Ballroom D. Joining him will be the duo Black Gryph0n, as well as representatives from the music streaming service Deezer. Their panel discussion, “Charting Independent Paths: Empowering Artists Beyond Labels,” will focus on how artists can thrive while maintaining their independence—a topic Ryan is passionate about. 

Music Industry Innovator Ryan Ruden Shares His No. 1 Tip For Financial Success As A Creator

“VidCon has been a great platform for creators,” Ryan notes. He anticipates the conversation will highlight the increasing demand from creators for platforms to provide more rights and revenue sharing. I would love to help fuel that conversation and advocate for artists, not only from a financial literacy standpoint but also from the opportunities in the marketplace.”

The industry vet is inspired by the current generation of artists’ business savvy when it comes to understanding profit splits, deal structures, and leveraging internet platforms. “I love that I can move from corporate into this independent role where I can advocate for artists in a new way.”

Beyond promoting Aerial Entertainment, Ryan wants to empower artists at VidCon by helping them understand that their perspectives matter. “Just because you’re young or just because you’re in a small room in a small town, your point of view truly matters,” he says.

“Often, it’s helping artists, especially newer artists, trust their instincts. It’s that their voice matters. A lot of times, revenue and marketing are easy once they feel confident in themselves. My #1 Tip for Creators is to trust your instincts and continue to experiment, test, learn, and grow.” 

Owning the Fan Relationship: A Critical Creator Trend 

For Ryan, one of the most significant trends in the creator economy is imperative for creators to own the direct relationship and data with their fans. “You want to own the data of your fan,” he emphasizes. The opportunities exist with a smaller audience. So, how do you own that consumer without intermediaries?”

He advocates for solutions facilitating this one-to-one connection, such as the platform b.stage, which he recommends to clients. Controlling the fan relationship insulates creators from platform upheaval and potential loss of audience. Ryan believes this major trend hasn’t been discussed enough.

High Volume, High Creativity to Stand Out 

Another key trend Ryan sees is the sheer volume of content and competition for attention. “You need to be creative and add value to your audience as over 130K tracks are added to Spotify every day,” he notes. To break through the noise, a prolific output cadence coupled with innovative thinking is required.

Ryan cautions against perfectionism paralysis: “Sometimes volume is the way to go,” he says. An experimental mindset focused on trying new ideas rapidly, rather than overanalyzing, can be an advantage.

Aerial’s Dual Role: Breaking Artists from Gaming & Educating on Financial Literacy 

For the future, Ryan has set an ambitious goal for Aerial Entertainment: “I would love to break a new act from gaming culture” into the musical mainstream. He cites his team’s work creating the innovative horror experience “Hart Island” inside Fortnite as a vessel to debut music artists organically through gaming.

In addition to novel ways of breaking talent, Ryan wants to emphasize financial literacy education for creators through Aerial’s efforts. “It’s not really how much revenue you make. It’s how much revenue you keep,” he says, adding that imparting business basics is crucial for creators to capitalize long-term. “I work closely with and recommend platforms like to help artists take control of their music career and finances.”

Continue Reading
You may also like...
Avatar photo

David Adler is an entrepreneur and freelance blog post writer who enjoys writing about business, entrepreneurship, travel and the influencer marketing space.

Click to comment

More in Agency

To Top