Music is a form of art, it's a powerful tool that people connect to. It's a form of expression that directly and indirectly influences our culture. Chances are you have a song that can instantly change your mood or bring you back to a moment in time, good or bad. Music is powerful. There's no surprise it's often referred to as the universal language of the world. A wise man once said, "when words fail, music speaks." Artists play an important role in our world, knowingly or unknowingly, they influence culture with their art. The music industry has a major influence on the minds of the future of tomorrow.
That same industry is currently in a unique, changing, and exciting state. In the past decade music sales have declined by over 12 billion dollars. A large portion of this is due to streaming dominating the market. With all the new revenues from streaming, little money is actually going to the artists. This has led to artists adapting and new tactics for success surfacing. In the past, artists needed to sign a record contract to reach the mass market. Now, there is unlimited potential to reach millions of people through social sharing.
However, just because some artist are changing doesn't mean everyone is following suit. One artist who has been a pioneer in changing the way music is distributed and revenue is generated is Chance the Rapper. Chance has released all of his albums for free. He insists on keeping his music free, building a loyal fanbase and focusing on making money from merchandise and live event sales. Spoiler alert: It's working.
“By staying independent, Chance can keep pushing the music industry to the limit. He's released all three of his albums for free, along with a collaborative album he worked on. Instead of making money by selling his music, he gets his income from concert performances and merchandise sales.”
By staying independent Chance has been able to control all the music he makes as well as keep more of the earnings from his music. Surprisingly, this is rarely the case. In all too many scenarios artists are limited to the music they create because of the record deal that they are signed to. Record contracts limit the artist to who they can collaborate with, when they can create and how the music should sound. It's as if the artist gets their wings clipped and kept from being independent and free. In one of his songs, he sheds some light on what it's like to work with other artists who are signed to a record contract. “I’ve been getting blocked just trying to make songs with friends. Labels told me to my face that they own my friends.” These are lyrics from Chance's song “Finish Line.”
Artists who create music as a form of expression should be able to create the music they want to create with the people they want to create with on the timeline that they can best create good music. I'm excited to see what Chance the Rapper has accomplished and what other artists will accomplish moving forward as an independent artist. There are some awesome tools and platforms being created for independent artists such as Zyer for Artists as an alternative to signing a record contract.
The future of the music industry is now. As an avid music fan I cant wait to see and hear the music that is created once artists decide to keep their wings and be free to create the music they are meant to create. There's no limits to the talent and great hits that are to be released in the near future. Any music fan should be excited for what's to come and who will emerge as the next great music pioneer.
"I've had a lot of advice from people [in the industry] who wouldn't give me that same advice today. It's not even that they have any ill will towards me because I didn't take their advice at the time. They're almost like, 'Keep going. You're in uncharted territory, and you're helping to shed light on what [the future of the business] will look like, and we're all curious.”
- Chance the Rapper