If you haven’t already, meet unsigned artist Chance The Rapper –
I couldn’t believe what I was listening to when I legally downloaded Chance The Rapper’s mixtape Acid Rap in May this year. The fact that such a polished product, with quality beats and raps, featuring some of the best talents in the business, was free came as quite a surprise.
Offering free music got me thinking about the direction the music industry is going at the moment. It is quite a contentious issue; international industry and music news magazine Billboard describes it as a ‘Black Hole’ in music. Should artists just give up on selling music?
Ironically, Acid Rap managed to peak at 63 on the Billboard charts, selling over 1000 copies. I would love to have been in the room when Chance and his management realised they were being completely screwed. They had no idea how it happened. The whole concept of a mixtape is that it is a free product. He took it in his stride as his lawyers attempted to stop the illegal selling of his album, stating, “This shows that there’s a strong appetite for Chance in the marketplace, how often does a bootleg hit a Billboard chart?”
When asked why he released it for free, Chance replied,
“What’s an album these days, anyways? ‘Cause I didn’t sell it, does that mean it’s not an official release? So I might not ever drop a for-sale project. Maybe I’ll just make my money touring.”
This new model for making it as an artist in the digital age seems to be the common trend. Initially a free record, Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites by electronic producer Skrillex went on to win two Grammy Awards. The notion of making less profit money wise but gaining social currency and brand awareness is becoming increasingly popular and is what Chance is asserting.
In a recent interview Rolling Stone Magazine Chance proclaimed,
“there’s no reason to sign with a record label,” and that the “music is a dead industry.”
As a twenty-year-old unsigned, up and coming artist, it takes some guts to have this attitude. Check out the whole interview here.
Not to say that I’m a hip hop guru but I thing I have listened to enough music to differentiate between the likes of Drake who is has a lot of power and money fueling each of his projects and Chance. Chance has a large creative team of producers and guest rappers who collaborate with him. Here’s a sweet a look into how the tracks on Acid Rap were made.
He carries himself like any twenty year old would in his position, it seems like the people in the industry find it refreshing. He has found a formula to break the industry with his product, fans and market, taking his rise to fame one humble step at a time.
At the end of last month, Chance announced his “Social Experiments” tour that will travel to over 30 cities in America. With no revenue from record sales, his sole income comes from touring and merchandise.
I wonder if this time next year, Chance The Rapper will still be unsigned. Let’s hope so.
By Carl Pires.