Hip Hop Artists Rewrite Rules

By: Malcolm Musoni

There was a time time when music release dates were standard. A couple of months prior, an album would be announced and then the release date, but now that entire concept has become dated.

Labels are trying to make money off their artists while still giving the fans the music at a considerate price. In order for labels to do this they have had to find a way to prevent leaks from happening. Once albums are leaked, it presents less of a chance that fans, no matter how big, will actually go out and support said artists, so now when artists surprise release their albums on iTunes, their sales have more than doubled  compared to what they would have earned had these albums been released in stores first. Using this approach, the demand is so heavy that fans don’t think twice about spending $12 or so on albums with surprise releases on iTunes.

Taylor Swift went so far as removing all of her music from Spotify right before her latest album, 1989, was released. Spotify is a great place for the listener, but at the end of the day, the musicians aren’t receiving even half of the profits they should due to allowing their entire catalog to be streamed for virtually nothing.

But even reluctant artists know that streaming is the wave of the future. Recently, news broke that Jay Z had bought a Swedish music streaming site, Tidal, which is like Spotify, and he met with some artists including Swift, Rihanna and Kanye West to strategize how they can make money off of their music through his new streaming site instead of Spotify.

The site launched this Monday, and unlike Spotify there is a $25 monthly fee that the users must pay after completing the 30 day free trial if they chose. The price is so high because when it comes to other streaming sites, record labels are getting 70 percent of the profit from streaming. The 30 percent is then distributed between the artists, and the producers and others leaving the artists with not that much at the end.

Some say who cares? So what if they are not getting fully compensated, they are already rich, but it comes to the fact that artists are seeking to paid a fair portion of their profits for their creative efforts.

One of the biggest examples of the record industry trying to be innovative and catch onto the times in the wake of technology is Beyonce’s last album. Beyonce released her highly anticipated fifth album straight to iTunes last December without warning. That album is the reason that led to where we are with artists going that route instead of a standard traditional release. Beyonce’s prior album saw a decrease in sales that can be attributed to the album being leaked a week before the release. The surge in sales that Beyonce saw with the surprise release is similar to what Drake saw when he dropped his late album, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, straight to iTunes and the same surge that Kendrick will see since he decided to drop his late album a week before it was supposed to drop in stores.

We are living in a  time where artists now rightfully want to be compensated for their art, and we as consumers have no choice but to stand up and support or wait for the music industry to find other ways to make us purchase the music where our pockets aren’t so badly affected.

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