It’s no new news that the music industry has shifted and evolved greatly in the last few years, forever altering the way we get our hands on and listen to music. But that doesn’t always mean record labels, music management, PR, award shows, etc. change at the same pace as consumers or artists do.
At the 59th annual Grammy Awards show, breakout star, Chance the Rapper, won multiple awards including Best New Artist, Best Rap Performance, and Best Rap Album, making him the FIRST and ONE AND ONLY artist to win a Grammy off of a streaming-only album. History was made, not by “chance,” but by Chance.
To break this down, Chance the Rapper sold zero physical copies of his extremely successful hip-hop woven gospel album, “Coloring Book,” and essentially “sold” barely any music at all due to it being a streaming-only album. Chance is widely known for being a confident, independent artist, who pledges to never sign to a label, and instead releases his music for free for his fans. He recently explained in an interview with Vanity Fair:
“After I made my second mixtape and gave it away online, my plan was to sign with a label and figure out my music from there. But after meeting with the three major labels, I realized my strength was being able to offer my best work to people without any limit on it.”
“I make money from touring and selling merchandise, and I honestly believe if you put effort into something and you execute properly, you don’t necessarily have to go through the traditional ways.”
And when Vanity Fair asked about the Grammys:
“I feel like God puts everything in place.”
This humble decision to sell his music for free has been embraced by his devoted fans, but has left the industry undoubtedly worried about the future of the music business. Previously, the Grammy board would not allow streaming-only albums heard solely on platforms such as Spotify or Soundcloud to be nominated for awards, but finally this year they decided to change with the times. The result? The wild-card, do-it-yourself, Chicago-native Chance the Rapper winning three awards.
The most important win of the night for Chance was, without a question, Best Rap Album. This was an award he himself didn’t believe he could possibly win when considering his competition; his own idol Kanye’s “Life of Pablo,” Drake’s “Views,” DJ Khaled’s “Major Key,” ScHoolboy “Q’s Blank Face LP,” and De La Soul’s “And the Anonymous Nobody.”
Even his own competition and mentors showed him respect and their own excitement for the history he made at the 2017 Grammy’s.
After continuously showing gratitude to God, his family and close friends, Chance stated, “This is for every indie artist, everybody that’s been doing this mixtape stuff…shouts to every independent artist out there, shouts to Soundcloud for holding me down. It’s another one baby!”
Chance is a true artist who creates music in the way we consume it. He continues to prove to be creating music not for money, but for the value of the art. In his own words from his track “Blessings” :
“I don’t make songs for free I make ’em for freedom/Don’t believe in kings, believe in the kingdom”
And we too believe in our blessings, and Chance just so happens to be one of them.