Chance The Rapper is a successful independent artist who since coming into the game, has released only free music. For a rapper to have never charged for his music and become a millionaire it was bound to raise some eyebrows and cause some head scratching. “How do you make money” Katie Couric asked during a recent interview with Chance, to which he happily replied:
“By selling merchandise at ChanceRaps.com… selling tickets and reinvesting in myself… also by being faithful to my consumers and to God”
His explanation may seem very simple and almost unbelievable (especially to those conspiracy theorists who are convinced that their is some kind of corporate machine behind Chance) but it could actually really just be that simple – Plus he wouldn’t be the first to get rich with such a formula.
Selling merchandise as a form of revenue stream has been the go to method for rappers for years. It has worked for many before, from Jay Z’s ‘Rocawear’, which once had annual sales of $700 million to Joey Bada$$’s ‘ProEra‘ merchandise which have even been worn by Ex ‘White House’ resident Malia Obama, and let’s not forget when 2 Chainz made a cool $2 million just from selling a ‘Dabbing Santa’ jumper during Christmas.
JME famously turned ‘Boy Better Know’ to a successful business. When Grime didn’t pay as much as it does now, ‘Boy Better Know’ T-shirt’s provided the Adenuga brothers their biggest income. You couldn’t go anywhere without seeing the ‘boy better know’ slogan on the nearest t-shirt or hat. Tinchy Stryder followed doing the same with his ‘Star In The Hood’ merchandise, which got him a partnership deal with Jay Z. What elevated these simple designs into profitable businesses is that there was an established connection between the artists and fans. The success relied on the brand and image of the artist. People loved JME and so, bought into JME’s brand.
By being Independent, you take home a larger percentage of whatever you are selling, be it music, merchandise or tickets for shows, better yet you decide the prices, as Chance did. He was able to charge what ever he felt was right and people paid. This only works if people perceive your brand to be worthy. Which is why the quality of what you are putting out there must always be considered. This includes the music, videos, shows and everything else down to your social media presence.
Another major key is reinvesting in yourself. Anyone that is serious in their craft or business should always reinvest in themselves. It’s the fastest and most apparent sure method for growth. “You reap what you sow”. Money from merchandise should be reinvested to put on bigger better shows, campaigns and build on your brand, movement and yourself. A better show means greater reception from fans, better campaigns result in a larger reach and audience for your product and constantly working on your brand and movement gives more people more reasons to invest in you. The formula has worked for Chance and many other independent artists from Stormzy to Skepta, Joey Bada$$ to Tech Nine.
To be faithful requires loyalty and consistency, faithfulness will ensure you do not derail from your promise. To be faithful to your consumers, you must first know who they are. You must study what it is that made them your consumers in the first place and be able to continue feeding them. Chance knows exactly who his fans are, better yet he knows who he is in himself. Chance, a man who has found God, knows his brand well enough to remain consistent in serving his consumers as well as God.
By following these steps many have found riches and success. Stormzy, the most recent, isn’t now worth £1.5 Million solely because of the music he makes. He literally built an amazing brand around him, which has majorly contributed to him constantly having sold out tours and shows and a number one selling album. His progress had been gradual. Him and his team were constantly reinvesting into the ‘Stormzy brand’ which is evident with each campaign surrounding his releases being bigger than it’s previous. An advertisement placement during the ‘Brit Awards’ certainly isn’t cheap.
— Spotify UK (@SpotifyUK) February 22, 2017
Stormzy like Chance, remained undeniably faithful to his consumers and God which in return allowed favours to be poured on to him and garnered the results and success they reap now. The not so secret formula to becoming financially stable as an independent is out there, now you too can emulate the success of your favourite rappers.
Words by @ClubTolu