What Can The Socioeconomic Context Of The Culture From Which Hip-Hop Is Derived Tell Us About How The Biggest Genre In The World Gets The Shitty End Of The Royalty Stick?
This piece is not meant to answer the question presented in its title, but rather to preface a discussion that should be, that needs to be, had in the music industry.
Streaming services are a beast that needs constant feeding. Younger hip-hop artists, already accustomed to providing sites such as SoundCloud with a constant stream of mixtapes and features, have adjusted to its demands more quickly than artists from other genres, and have thrived accordingly. At the heart of rap’s streaming dominance is something more ephemeral: Some songs just stream better than others, for reasons that no one can really explain yet. Hip-hop streams better than other types of mainstream music, and trap music streams better than other types of hip-hop. – The Washington Post (April, 2018)
R&B/hip-hop music was the year’s biggest genre, accounting for 24.5 percent of all music consumed….R&B/hip-hop genre represented 24.5 percent of all music consumption in the U.S. — the largest share of any genre and the first time R&B/hip-hop has led this measurement for a calendar year. (The 24.5 percent share represents a combination of album sales, track equivalent album units and streaming equivalent album units — including both on-demand audio and video streams.) — Billboard Magazine (January, 2018)
The statistic presents the number of on-demand music streams worldwide in 2016 and 2017, by genre. According to the source, the number of urban [Hip-Hop and R&B] on-demand streams rose from 55.9 billion in 2016 to 100.34 billion in 2017 – Statista (2018)
Also Read: Should The Term ‘Urban Music’ Be Eradicated?
Most Hip-Hop and R&B artists do not have publishing representation. Therefore, a significant number of their digital music income streams fall into the unclaimed royalties (aka black box). After 3 years, those royalties can be forfeited to major publishers without the rapper kid from the block ever knowing he/she had money sitting on the table. Feeling so disenfranchised that you won’t even try (or know where to begin) to properly setup and unlock what is owed to you is part of the socioeconomic context from which much of this street music is derived.
This is part of the reason why I founded TuneRegistry and why I wrote the ebook “The DIY Musician’s Starter Guide To Being Your Own Label & Publisher” available for free download.
In a culture where access to institutional and compounding forms of wealth is but a dream and where living paycheck to paycheck is such a prevalent reality, how does this condition young Hip-Hop and R&B artists to be blinded to the ways in which their craft earns residual income? Let’s discuss in the comments.