Radio Facts:

R&B/hip-hop drove nearly a quarter of music consumption in 2017

A veritable feeding frenzy for new talent has pushed debut contracts for new rappers into the millions. While traditionally the larger contracts for debut artists peaked around $1 million, over the last 12 to 18 months music industry insiders have noted a steep rise in contract prices, sometimes pushing into the double-digit millions.

One factor includes the increased prominence of hip-hop, with some analysts discussing the music industry in terms of an ‘age of hip-hop‘ in which R&B/hip-hop drove nearly a quarter of music consumption in 2017, surpassing rock (21%) and doubling pop (12%). This has increased pressure on record labels to provide rappers with a strong digital profile.

Amplifying this tendency are the increase in streaming options and prominence, allowing up-and-coming artists to build a following independent of labels, and attorneys and managers’ increasing push for deals that secure greater royalties and ownership for clients. In this context, labels are hungry for artists with a preexisting buzz, and representatives have been able to translate this hunger into lucrative deals.

Critics have argued on the one hand that this tendency may produce a proliferation of gimmicky, disposable artists who are quickly thrown aside and replaced. Simultaneously, such inflated pricing trends have some analysts concerned about the possibilities of a bubble and the potential stability thereof. The reality behind those concerns has yet to be seen, but for now newly signed talent is benefitting from labels’ inflated zeal.

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