Murder Was The Case: Is Streaming Killing The Rap Music Industry?
It’s December and there still hasn’t been a platinum album in hip-hop in 2014. Before Taylor Swift shattered records with her 1989 album, the music industry in its entirety went without a single project reaching the one million mark in sales. With Spotify recently releasing their 2014 streaming playback statistics, there couldn’t be a better time to debate the pros and cons streaming has on the music industry.
Taylor Swift is a selling machine and embodies the All-American pop-star, but it must be mentioned that the country singer isn’t involved with the music industry’s current playback phenomenon — streaming. T. Swizzle recently removed her entire music catalog from Spotify, despite 40% of the audio streaming platform’s 40 million users having her songs on their playlists. Streaming is showing no signs of going anywhere anytime soon, as Billboard has finally come to grips with acknowledging playback stats towards album charting. In addition, Spotify teamed up with Uber, so streaming can literally go with you everywhere. Apple has also announced plans to automatically install the Beats Music App on all of their devices in the near future, which pushes forward the practice of streaming versus purchasing physical CDs.
40. Million. Users. Most of which fit the younger demographic, the same target audience that used to buy music. For the first time since 2001, digital sales have declined annually. Are sites like Spotify and Soundcloud the problem? Record labels like Warner Music seem to believe so, as the publishing company legally blitzed Soundcloud so hard the company was forced to sign on to be on the short end of the stick financially.
Where does hip-hop fall in this discussion? Atlanta OGs turned collaborators T.I. and Young Jeezy both dropped solid solo LPs in 2014 and neither went platinum. The same can be said for Iggy Azalea, who still hasn’t eclipsed the one million plateau, despite a “Fancy” record breaking single. With hip-hop heavyweights Rick Ross, Eminem, Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, J. Cole and possibly Kendrick Lamar dropping albums in 2014 — we should see a sales reach a seven digit figure soon.
But if not, is streaming really the problem? Or are we, the growing and evolving consumers the problem? As millennials, we’re accustomed to instant gratification. We’ve grown up alongside technology and social media — everything is viral. Shelf life lasts for three days and most, and it’s not that we don’t appreciate art’s beauty. Boredom goes from 0-100 real quick since we’re so used to new shit surfacing by the second.