Hip hop music was huge in the United States just a few years ago. At one point in 2000, sales even hit a record high of over 1.8 billion USD. That was when Hip Hop R&B had over taken all other genres of music in terms of record sales. To find out why Hip Hop music sales are slumping currently, one has to rewind a little and understand how Hip Hop all started out.
Before Hip Hop got accepted into the mainstream, many Hip Hop artists pretty much stayed underground to practice their art form. No one knew Hip Hop was going to become the titan that it would develop into. When Hip Hop first began, it started out in the streets. It was a movement by people who were disadvantaged, or were ostracized by the community – they were looking for a way to express themselves and their plight. And express themselves they did.
Hip Hop music is spontaneous and witty. For example, when a battle takes place between two artists, the lyrics are never pre-written. Each competitor will be given the opportunity to rap for a certain period of time. The audience is the judge. The culture of rap is that the judging audience is never biased making it a truly democratic art form. Whoever comes up with the most original and creative lyrics will win the battle. Of course, there is an element of like and dislike. So the lyrics have to connect with the audiences as well. The final results of the battle is based on the cheers of the audience. Whoever receive the loudest cheer, wins the battle.
As you can see, Hip Hop arises out of a need for talented artists to be heard. And the artists became really good from years of practicing. As they practice, the world remains largely unaware of what is happening. It wasn’t until the artists become more entrepreneurial that Hip Hop starts to take off.
Unlike other type of music, the Hip Hop community accepts was far reaching in content and profanity in the lyrics. The market finds it refreshing to hear such profanity in the records. And soon, Hip Hop music took off like a bullet with as much variety in tone as there were people. From the angry rebellious rap, to the happy its a party time songs.
The market soaked it all in mainly because they believed that the artists were just doing their thing – they were voicing repressed feelings, from lack of opportunity or showing you how to enjoy yourself and life. So record sales continued to soar. Recording artists like Eminem, 50 Cent Lil Wayne, Jay Z, T.I and Gucci Mane all did very well in the industry.
Unfortunately, the success of the Hip Hop industry has hit a turning point. In a few short years, sales for Hip Hop music begin to decline, and it continued to decline year after year. Some recording labels, once worth millions of dollars, are now near bankruptcy.
It is clear that the market has taken the time to learn about Hip Hop music and culture and have fully embraced it. After earning billions of dollars in the industry, and being widely accepted in the mainstream, what is the source of the decline in sales?
Many will argue, its all due to the Internet. The new Internet age has brought about many new opportunities along with many new threats to the old industries. Now its easier then ever to commit piracy and unfortunately the record industry has been resistant to change. Too stuck in the old mind frame and old distribution channels to fully embrace what the Internet could really mean for them.
Hip Hop artists are now being heard all over the world. There is no longer the element of distribution channels or lag from the artist to the market. Why? Because the Internet makes it instantaneous. As such old walls have been broken down where people had to wait for months or search relentlessly to be able to acquire all of an artists past works.
As such artists must continue to evolve in order to continue thriving. Perhaps it’s still back to basics. No more focusing on big marketing budgets and record label driving initiatives. Maybe what the Internet has done is take Hip Hop out of the corporate boardrooms and back to the streets where all that counts is just great rap music lyrics from the heart.