Saturday, September 27, 2014

Round Table Discussion: What do you see the hip-hop industry becoming In the next 10 years?

I'm very proud and excited to introduce a new style of editorials to the site. It's called 'Round Table Discussion'  and this is simply a place to gather a group of people in different positions within the hip-hop industry to talk about..well, hip-hop! The prompt for the inaugural edition of RTD is 'What do you see the hip-hop industry becoming In the next 10 years?' this question received a varied list of ideas and theories of what the industry will become. Check out the article, and comment your thoughts!

Kevin Nottingham of & HiPNOTT Records

In the next ten years I see the hip hop industry either flourishing to new levels or drowning in its own saturation. If the last ten years has showed us anything, it's that technology has changed the industry as a whole, making it more viable for independent artists to produce, distribute, and market their music.  This has assisted in the decline in major label sales as well as helped new artists reach levels they never would have reached before.  Technology has also aided in the decline of physical sales, making digital music and streaming services the preferred choice for music fans.

I believe in the next ten years, technology will guide the hip hop industry.  The market will continue to be saturated, but technology will assist in managing what the fans hear. It will be easier for fans to find new artists and hear what they want to hear.  The industry itself will continue where it's going now, via streaming platforms with physical product (CDs, vinyl, cassettes) being sold to the real fans for pure nostalgia.

When I hear the term Hip-Hop industry I think it's necessary for me to separate that from the mainstream Rap music community. There are a few mainstream artists I see now in 10 years paving the way for upcoming artists now (Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Big K.R.I.T, etc) but these are only a few artists with substance that get airplay amongst a plethora of artists that make microwave music. Music, much like anything else, does move in cycles so I do believe that there will be new artists coming along that will replace the aforementioned artists that will succeed today's mainstream Hip-Hop leaders.

I believe the non mainstream Hip-Hop industry will continue to do well in 10 years mostly due to artists becoming increasingly more self sufficient and connecting directly with their audience via social networks. MySpace and Twitter are/were breakthrough platforms which aided in bridging the gap between artist and fan, it's not hard to believe that there will be another site that will come along that will do the same with improvements.

I predict that the Internet will still be the main way for Hip-Hop artists to a make sustainable career and living. Along with the growth and development of Hip-Hop labels modeled in the same mindset as labels like Mello Music Group & Stones Throw, I see more artists taking the same approach that Talib Kweli did with his 2013 album "Gravitas", which was sold only via his site and as merch during his shows vs going through online retailers like iTunes, Bandcamp and Amazon. Steps like this should also increase artist visibility due to placing more of a need for them to tour often.

Tino, Independent Recording Artist

Trying to predict the future of the hip hop industry is a tumultuous affair. You have standout new artists like Chance The Rapper who put together one of the best albums of 2013 turning down record deals, choosing to remain independent and on the other end of the spectrum you have labels signing artist like Bobby Schmurda based on the popularity of a Vine video which largely featured him as the butt of numerous jokes. Then there is streaming which is starting to cut into digital sales as reports, iTunes will see almost a 40% drop in sale over the next 5 years. Also taking a hit from streaming is radio. When Pandora will tailor a station to your likes with the option of skipping songs you don't why would you sit through songs you hate and multiple commercial breaks.

So what does all this mean? I think labels know the money is drying up as artists seek to remain independent such as Macklemore, Hopsin, Tech 9, and Mac Miller have. Artist aren't seeing the benefits of signing a 360 deal which entitles the label to money from artist sales (which account for little to nothing unless you're a mega star like Beyonce) endorsements, touring, and merchandise sales. So, as an artist why would you after years of hard work cultivating a loyal fan base let a label have a piece of everything you've earned? Definitely not for the offer of marketing, radio airplay, and distribution which have been grossly undercut by the Internet. This hold out by newer stars has given rise to the signing of artist like Trinidad James who was recently released from his label for not producing another smash after the viral success of All Gold Everything which he was signed off of after admitting to having rapped only 11 months. Outside of your marquee acts, your Timberlakes, Kanyes, Kendricks, and Drakes, labels aren't banking enough cash on music sales so they are gambling on finding the next big thing before they reach a point in their career where they realize they don't need a label so stories like Kreyshawn, Trinidad James and most undoubtedly Bobby Schmurda are bound to continue until what I see as the collapse of the industry as we know it.

How many bad bets can you make before you go bust is the only real question. Will that be 10 years from now, quite possibly as more and more artist decide to remain in control of their artistic and financial future it becomes harder and harder to find the next Drake or Nicki Minaj to fund all of those Young Money throw away albums. And for that reason I believe 10 years from now there won't be a top selling albums chart. It will be replaced by the most streamed albums with near half those artists listed in its top 10 being independent with possible management, or touring deals, but no record label contracts. If that is the case I believe the music will be a lot better and more divers because artists will again be in control of what to create and put out not some exec concerned with how to fund his bonuses. 

Yamin Semali, Independent Recording Artist

Whoa, I can only voice my hopes for what the hip-hop culture will be.  I hope it will be less of an industry and more of a culture.  It seems to be industrialized into a lot of assembly line records.  I would love to see more bboy events that feature emcees and groups.  I would also like for everyone to have their own distribution channels or at the most, have more local distributors who cater to boutique labels.  It would be cool to just lessen the corporate structure that most of the visible artists use.  It would level the field a lot.  Less frivolity could actually put more power in the hands of the artists AND listeners.  Political messages catch like wildfire through sound and hip hop has that to its advantage.  

Vinny Sciascia, Creator & Sole Operator of The Under-Cover Album Review

In ten years, I see the hip-hop industry becoming extremely segregated. By that I mean segregation between the mainstream and the independent or underground artists. There already seems to be a divider between the two classes, and I feel that they are only going to continue to grow distant as time progresses. 

I think that true fans of hip-hop will follow the independent artists and labels that put out good, quality music that isn't diluted. Others who enjoy rap music, or the mainstream brand of hip-hop, will simply listen to what's current on the charts and the radio. This already happens to a degree in the present world, but in ten years I feel that it will be a more exaggerated version of the industry today.

There will still be artists that rap about rapping and making money to a catchy club-style beat, and those guys will be the artists that make the money and get in the public eye. However, there will be an even larger community of artists that go against the grain, and don't do it for the money or notoriety, but for the love of making music for the people that truly appreciate it.


  1. Ryan-O'Neil S. EdwardsSeptember 30, 2014 at 7:42 AM

    if all goes well in 10 years ALL current rappers will be old news. And some young kids in some shit part of the country or world, dealing with their shit lives will start to create something new and real and beautiful and in time marketable. Then the cycle continues.

  2. That's definitely one way to look at it lol, the possibilities are really endless.



Created in 2013, The Under-Cover Album Review strives to bring the world quality music, by quality artists. This motto will continue to be our foundation as we move forward in time.

-Vinny Sciascia, Creator & Operator