What Happens To Hip-Hop When Another Recession Hits?


A recession strikes about every 10 years, which currently leaves us on the brink of another recession. The infamous crash of 2008 had devastating effects, globally. The major indices in the United States lost nearly 50% of their value, leaving retirement funds in the same shape, decimated. People, or 99 percenters from various backgrounds from a small town in Texas to Barcelona, Spain; the effect was felt. The recession continued for well over a year until it was ‘officially’ determined by the US Federal Reserve that the economy turned to growth in June 2009, however, in reality, the economy was on its knees.

Now rewind your clock and think about that 2 years of music. In 2008, Lil’ Wayne dropped his revered Carter III. Soulja Boy’s “Crank Dat” was #5 on Billboard’s top 100. Kid Cudi emerged onto the scene, which at the time, the barriers to the market as an indie artist was much more complex. Luckily, both were able continue their careers and see their pockets grow, even when the US real estate values and markets were plummeting.

In 2017, the barriers that existed in 2008 have nearly been eradicated. Mostly thanks to the internet and commoditization and/or accessibility to studios and equipment. Artists are able to distribute music, merch, build a fan base, all digitally. However, and this is a big however, the barrier to becoming an artist full time, AKA financially independent as an artist entrepreneur, is as challenging as ever. If a recession hits in the coming years or months, what will happen to the emerging hip hop artist? Here are 3 effects a recession will have on hip hop.

Reduction of Artists & Marketing Spend

The recession is going to reduce the required workforce and unemployment will increase. Some of which will be artists that have day jobs that support their craft, leaving them with no income stream. With this transpiring, we will see the number of artists decrease tremendously. Even the ones that can stick around and continue to make music, they may have to reduce studio sessions, release less singles and thoroughly think about their time spent and effectiveness in the booth. No more half assed Soundcloud singles or EPs. With these releases, they will host their own marketing scheme. No more paying for blogs or for a publicist. The ripple effect will flow into the various tentacles of the industry. The recession will trigger quality control, which is a double edged sword.

Reduction of the Art Around Music

One thing that the digital revolution has positively affected is the artwork around the music. Album artwork, single artwork, music videos, etc., stand as unique, impressive works of art. In order to continue to make music on a reduced budget, something has to go; first to go will be the creative add ons. Their creative artwork may have to reduce elements and frequency.

Keep an eye out for an increase in artist ‘unicorns’. By ‘unicorn’ we mean someone that can create a multi-dimensional creative project by themselves. They can handle their graphic design, produce their beats and maybe even code their own website.

Reduction of Music Industry Market Cap

Shifting focus from artist to consumers, the music industry will again face resilient headwinds during a recession. Consumer spending will drastically decline. Consequently, consumers of music will have to reduce spending. Most likely streaming services will be the only money spent on music as they provide the largest catalog for the lowest price. Merch and concert sales, which are the most lucrative income streams for majority of artists will radically decrease. The lack of consumer spending will just exacerbate the previous two issues. Providing it more arduous to for independent artists to make a fair living.

The second coming of the Messiah may not be clear but the next recession is guaranteed. Artist’s 401k, AKA streaming services and merch/ticket sales, are going to lose their residual consistency and magnitude. The easy access that exists currently will be shaken up. The endless burning desire to become an artist will always persist, however, the decision between becoming an artist entrepreneur or putting food on the table will be at the forefront of the mind. Fingers crossed that our government and central banking system will minimize or mitigate the recession that is coming, please, for Hip-Hop’s sake.

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