THE GAME HAS CHANGED (PART 1)
Written by Charles Fisher; edited by Randy Fisher
Say what you want about the Source Magazine’s “Unsigned Hype” Alumni Artist Macklemore and his partner Ryan Lewis, but they are taking the industry by storm in an age of digital technology that has thrown the music industry into a tailspin. If an artist goes gold today (500,000 units sold) he is doing damn good—those are the new standards for the 21st century. And because record labels are taking such a beating they are hesitant to sign and/or throw their resources behind an artist, unless he/she has a Super Loud Buzz in the market. So artists and executives know that it is almost impossible for an independent artist who does not have the backing of a billion dollar major label to succeed. I mean if it is a risky investment with the major it must be twice as risky without them you would think. But low and behold here comes Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, the Seattle-based Rappers that are bucking the trend and paving the way for a new way to get paid in the music industry.
Let’s take a look at the numbers for “The Heist”, Mack and Ryan’s latest album. The independent album sold 78,000 copies in its first week and debuted at #2 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart. However, it debuted at #1 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and Top Rap Albums, while entering the Canadian Albums Chart at #4. On April 3, 2013, it was announced that the album had reached Gold status with over 500,000 copies sold. As of June 5, 2013 it has sold 776,000 copies and is headed toward platinum status. The album has received positive reviews from critics and has reached the #1 spot on iTunes in various countries, including the U.S. and Germany.
There is merchandising, endorsements and a blockbuster world tour lined up. They are talking in an excess of $20 million gross and counting. Now that is how you get paid in full as an independent artist. To top things off they delivered a hot performance at the 2013 Billboard Music Awards while winning the award for Best Rap Song for “Thrift Shop.”
Macklemore began independently releasing music in 2000 and now collaborates with producer Ryan Lewis, violinist Andrew Joslyn, and trumpeter Owuor Arunga. He has gained a significant online fan base. He has released one mixtape, three EPs and two albums, although none on a major record label. His music video “Thrift Shop” has been viewed on YouTube over 300 million times and reached number 1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart selling more than 2.2 million copies. His second single “Can’t Hold Us” also peaked at #1 on the Hot 100 Chart making Macklemore & Ryan Lewis the first duo in the chart’s history to have their first two singles both become a #1 single and the first to do so without being signed to a major record company in almost 20 years.
The important BUZZ WORD that you have to follow here is the word “Show Business”, the word “Business” is a lot longer and more important than the word “Show.” You see, this is a business and these guys have been smart enough to give the people what they want, an opportunity to relate to a Normal Guy. Someone on a bike, buying Thrift Clothes, shopping in a 99-cent store, and just saying things that a normal person can identify with. It is just that simple. Most Rap music buyers know that they will never have the money, cars, jewelry and fame that is talked about on the average record and seen in the video. Most are sick and tired of artists only thinking about themselves and not the average Joe.
The support of Macklemore is a statement from the buying public that if you are smart and follow the money you can make a lot of it. This is about keeping it real and getting the dollar while you are doing it. This is a business and Macklemore is on top of his game paving the way for artists that need to take a second look at what they put out and how they need to pay more attention to the minds and needs of their fan base. You can keep doing what you are doing and pray for sales or switch up your game just a little to show your fans you care about their social issues and general well being.
I have been involved with the entertainment industry, non-profit groups and providing community service for 35 years and I know what the people want. If you can’t knock someone out with the left hand, try the right. Just don’t take crumbs when you can get the whole pie. With the success of Macklemore the proof is in the pudding and it would be wise for you to take a second look at the way you do business if you are trying to feed your family. “The Show looks good, but the Business brings the Cash” and “Cash Rules Everything Around Me, Cream Get the Money.” If you consider yourself the Cream of the Crop, it’s time to box with two hands. Now that you can see that the money is real you need to give it a shot.
I have been telling artists for years that if you can show the record buying public that you feel their pain and are willing to help them get through tough times, you will forever have their loyalty. Being positive and clean opens the door to corporate America where the real money is at. You have to move your mindset from the “Streets to the Corporate Suites.” Macklemore received the support of the NBA for one of his songs. Who would not want to be doing business with the NBA? This association opens the door for other major corporations like Hollywood and the TV industry. The sky is the limit for a cool and positive song to be successful—all you have to do is just one. The power is with the people and when you have their support you also have the support of corporate America. This sets the stage for Global Economic Opportunities with Multi-national Corporations who know the power of Hip-Hop and can’t wait to write you a check because you now understand the CIPHER of 360 degrees.
Whether this is a fad or a new trend it does not matter, the door of opportunity is now open for those bold enough to try a new drink. You don’t have to give up Coke to try Orange Juice, you may like them both. You see each can have their own benefits after all this is now a Crossover business. Stay tuned for the next segment of “The Game Has Changed.” For further advice on how to “Change Your Game and Flip Your Career” hit us up on Twitter @HHSYC or Facebook.com/HHSYC.
About the writer: Charles Fisher is the former manager of one of the most successful artists ever in Hip-Hop History, Multi-Platinum Selling and Grammy Award winning rap star LL Cool J. He also managed the Lost Boyz and co-discovered multi-platinum selling and Grammy Award winning sensation R. Kelly. He was instrumental in the marketing and development of Cold Chillin’ Records, one of the first and most successful Rap Dynasties in history, and FUBU, the Godfather of Urban Apparel.