Thursday, February 17, 2011

The New Business of Music

I don't like to pay for music.

Scratch that.

I don't like to pay for something I could get for free.

Now we can sit here a argue about whether or not downloading without paying is really a crime for hours, but that's not my aim today. I'm here to talk about how the business of Hip-Hop has changed since I was a kid.

Think about this for a second: Shaq is a platinum artist. Multi-platinum, I believe. It used to be that any Joe Spitkicker could at least get a gold album. Skills mattered, of course, but back in the 90's you could get away with being wack and still do numbers because of marketing.

O.K., that hasn't changed, but the ones who got the most shine usually had the most skill.

At least that how I remember it.

Now, former multi-platinum artist struggle to go platinum once in a month's span. Lil' Wayne doing a million in a week off of The Carter 3 (Carter 2 was better, IMHO), it was considered a grand achievement. Meanwhile, arguably better albums sometimes can't even go gold.

But there's hope.

Mixtapes are starting to sound like albums now. (Kush & Orange Juice) They sound so much like studio LPs now that some artists are re-releasing them on iTunes about a month after their online release, either in their "untagged" form (a plus if DJ Scream's on the tape), or as stripped-down EPs (Str8 Killa > Thank Me Later EP IMHO). You can actually build a decent catalog around a artist consisting of free material they put out.'s kind of cool being a Hip-Hop fan today.