At the 2017 Grammy awards Chance the Rapper became the first ever artist to be nominated and win a Grammy award through releasing their music only via online streaming. Chance the Rapper is a Chicago native and the 23-year-old rapper is setting a huge example for all aspiring artists of his generation. The rapper’s success is of huge importance to the music industry because it showcases how today, it is the artists who make the music in the music industry have the power and not the record label executives who produce their music. Chance the Rapper didn’t need a major record label deal to succeed because he simply records and produces his own music and then uploads it to Spotify where the entire world can listen to it. As a result of this he receives nearly all the royalties to his own music and doesn’t have to compromise on the type of music he wishes to make and by doing this he made music history. What’s the explanation for it? The Solow–Swan growth model.
The Solow–Swan growth model is an economic model for growth which explains economic growth as a result of capital accumulation and technological progress. The economic jargon may make it sound complicated but it’s actually very simple when capital (goods and machinery) is accumulated and there are also improvements made to this capital then economic growth occurs. Take the industrial revolution for example. Development of transport systems such as the British railway system meant goods could be transported more easily and this led to economic growth.
The same type of capital accumulation and technological improvements occurred in the music industry which led to Chance the Rapper’s success. At the very beginning of the music industry, the process of recording music was relatively complicated and expensive because the technology for doing so was in the early stages of development and was only possessed by big record labels who could afford the equipment. However, as time went on there were technological advancements in recording equipment. For example, at first, music was recorded on wire, then tape and finally digitally recorded. Digital recording was a huge advancement because it meant that anyone with a computer, an audio box and a microphone could record something. After the late 90’s and early 00’s all this became stuff that nearly every household in the first world could afford and as a result, a lot of artists could have home studios. However, this just made it easier to record the music but not release it. That advancement came with the development of home computers and the internet.
Before the internet and home computers, if an artist wanted to release their music, they needed the big distributing infrastructure of a record label to release it through pressing records and CD’s and distributing them to stores and radio stations. However, with the advancements of recording equipment, this meant artists could have a demo tape. Then after this, artists could record their songs through the computer straight onto blank discs and could have demo CDs. Then with social media sites like YouTube and Facebook Artists could release music on their own social network profiles. Finally, now artists can release their music on online streaming sites like Spotify and get paid from the royalties they gain from it. This means that an artist like Chance the rapper can earn a living off of his own music without the help of a big record label who takes a share of his album sales and royalties and sell out shows worldwide as well to adoring audiences.
With Chance the Rapper gaining all this success without a label and currently having over a million and a half followers on Spotify and selling out concerts in Europe and America the question has to be asked, does he even need to sign to a major record label? Is he a sign of more to come in the music industry? Will there even be a place for major record labels in 20 years’ time? Whatever the case let’s just be glad that we all get to have more music for less price and that the control of the music industry finally appears to be shifting towards the musicians and fans that are responsible for the existence of the music industry in the first place.
By Daragh O’Leary