If you shed tears during Chance’s Grammy performance then, honey, I’m with you. It just feels like the world have just gotten a little bit better. Well, he’s done it. This Lil’ Chano from Chicago have made history in, not only the Grammy’s, but the entire music industry.
Grabbing the attention of the world with the release of his Acid Rap Mixtape, he went on to becoming 2013’s “Hot MC”, and now a Grammy winning artist.
Looking back, we now know that Kanye was right when he called Chance, “The Future”, during his speech at the VMAs in 2016. So let that Grammy win be the check point to when it is our turn to write it in the history of music, we look back to this exact moment as we begin the change that artists deserve.
“Y’all can play your music, Imma talk”, says Lil’ Chano as they try to signal him to wrap up his speech during the Grammy’s
Music is, first and foremost, an art form.
It is a primal need and it is unquestionably powerful. Ever since the attachment of commerce to art, it has always been a complicated marriage between the two.
Musicians have always been so devoted to the goal of landing a label to be able to pursue their craft. Given that record labels have possibly developed a seamless business model around the industry. A model that would completely dominate the artist’s capabilities that would make the artists not look entirely at the consequences of a contract attaching themselves to. This is definitely a business model that is bound to be challenged.
We’ve been hearing about these lawsuit battles between artists and labels for years that it has just become a norm. That is where the bigger question arises,
As an artist, what are your other options?
Chance said in a Rolling Stone interview three years ago that, “it [labels] is a dead industry”. During this time, he is convinced to not ever sign for a label and maybe just make money out of touring. Being a mainstream rapper that he is now, he remains pure and true to the kind of artist that he was back then – only making money through touring, merchandise sales, and some endorsement.
“I know everyone thinks being independent means you do everything by yourself, but independence means freedom”, adds Chance
Makes sense today as we live in the age of free music. Besides downloading songs illegally from the internet, the emergence of free music streaming have given “music is everywhere” a completely new sense. Literally, music is like air.
Today, you are able to listen to a song without buying an entire album. Artists with the likes of Chance have recognized the rise of the new age for the music industry. As more platforms for music production and self-promotion surface, it seems like it is a great time to become independent after all.
Being independent may have seem to be the anti-thesis to the current system, but do we really understand what it means to be independent?
Being independent means that you, as a musician, will have to wake up every day and your music will literally be your life. You will have to fund your own recordings, drive to your own shows, and do self-promotion among others. You will definitely have to stretch yourself out to be able to do things for your craft. Saying it’s tough to be independent is an understatement. It would seem that not a lot of artists can do it; unless, it would have been the easier choice.
It is no question today that we are able to challenge institutions and to actually see favourable outcomes. But is there really a need to have segments in an industry? Do we need another Martin Luther King Jr. to remind us of the dream?
The greater battle in the music industry is fighting not for the purpose of beating someone or something but to fight for what is right and what is fair.
Case in point, big American rock band – 30 Seconds to Mars have been widely open about their settlement between their record label of almost a decade – EMI. It was a battle between choosing to produce their 3rd album, “This Is War”, independently and fighting for a better record deal that they deserve.
(Check out the band’s documentary, Artifacts, available on iTunes)
Everyone may have thought that the band have the spirit and drive to go independent, but they were ultimately faced with the reality and asks if how many independent bands out there have been successful worldwide?
They simply did not have an answer.
But that was in 2008, at that time being independent have been an unknown territory. We’d like to think that today is a totally different ball game.
So let us know what you think! Is today a great time to be independent? Or are record labels are being open to improving services for the artists?
Photo from Prism Creative Group