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2019 was an interesting year for underground hip hop. We’ve noticed a number of artists reach a million+ views/streams, create nationwide musical waves and even sign major label deals while having only local success. I think it’s safe to say that we are experiencing a musical shift. An awakening, if you will. The sounds that music enthusiasts have all come to know and love seem to be changing. And from this evolution, the underground hip hop culture has taken full advantage of this shift and are using it to break into the industry.

Pop Smoke had the world in a frenzy with his single “Welcome to the Party” and has even secured a spot on U.K. artist Skepta’s upcoming tour. Fivio Foreign, with the release of his record “Big Drip” has received cosigns from big industry names like Meek Mill and Cardi B. The hit single even landed him a deal with Columbia Records. Sleepy Hallow and Sheff G. have even made a name for themselves this year. The two have definitely put on for NYC with the release of their talent-filled mixtapes. Artists like these and more have broke through the industry’s glass ceiling in regards to just how much talent (and money) is hiding in the 2019 underground music scene.

But once underground artists hit the big league, they realize that it is truly a whole nother ball game. At this point, a label has invested in you and they are expecting a ROI (return of investment). The pressure to sell may take away from the creativity and authenticity of the music. Some artists get lucky but others sign these crippling music deals that don’t allow them to maneuver as freely as they may like. We’ve heard mainstream artists like Designer, Lil Uzi and Kash Doll discuss their frustrations with their label and contracts. These issues affect everything from money to music release dates. Of course, there are ways around such conflicts. A distribution deal is an ideal arrangement for recording artists. Companies like United Masters are designed to put the power back in the hands of the artists. Their mission is to allow the artists they work with to maintain their rights to their music masters while helping them connect with fans and brands for potential collaborations. Record labels offer multi million dollar marketing campaigns which most artists believe is a major key to success. Although artists think they need this “key competent”, they don’t. Labels use their heavyweight marketing pull as leverage in recording contracts. It is easier sell as a major recording artists, but it is surely better to sell as an independent artist.

In the year 2020, would you like to see more artists go/stay independent or sign recording contracts to secure bigger bucks?



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