Chance The Rapper Advises Indie Artists To Avoid Record Labels. Here’s Why He’s Wrong About Ownership

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Written by Ann Brown
Chance
Recording artist Chance The Rapper performs on ABC’s “Good Morning America” at Rumsey Playfield/SummerStage on Friday, Aug. 16, 2019, in New York. (Photo by Jason Mendez/Invision/AP)

Chance the Rapper may have made it to the big time by being an independent artist, but many music industry experts say this isn’t the route for all artists. Yet the 26-year-old Chicago rapper urges artists to avoid record labels, distribution deals, and management deals.

Recently on “The Breakfast Club” radio show, Chance reiterated his philosophy about being an indie artist versus an artist signed to a label. Chance responded to critics with, “I’m convinced all the n*** in the replies work at a label

Many other artists too believe in Chance’s go-it-alone style as they look at record labels deals “as modern-day sharecropping.”

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“But music’s biggest stars are still signed to labels for a reason. Many of them had the opportunity to become independent but still re-upped their deal with more favorable terms. Chance’s advice comes from an earnest place, but the details and nuance are important for those who want to maximize their independence,” Fact Magazine reported.

Chance has nothing against making side deals with labels as long as he stays indie. In 2016, for example, Apple Music made a $500,000-deal with Chance for two commercials and premiere placement on the streaming service in exchange for two weeks of exclusive rights for his Grammy Award-winning album “Coloring Book.” 

But are indie artists truly independent? Some say no.

“Independence is a spectrum. Both ends of that spectrum are extreme cases. One end is complete ownership: the artist who only sell music on their own website. The other end is a full partnership where the artist is controlled in a 360 deal. Most artists—signed and unsigned—lie somewhere in the middle. They are in some sort of ‘deal’ to gain distribution, promotion, or money,” Fact Magazine reported.

For some artists, label deals still make a lot of sense. 

As industry veteran Troy Carter recently said during an interview with Cherie Hu at the Midem Conference: “There’s a false narrative out there right now: ‘Oh, every artist wants to be independent’. Taylor Swift doesn’t want to be on TuneCore! No offense. Taylor Swift was out of her deal and decided to re-up with Universal. She didn’t do it for the money. She doesn’t need the money. It’s the experience [at Universal].”

When artists reach a certain level they probably need experienced teams around them. 

“Beyonce, Ariana Grande, Post Malone, Drake, and Taylor Swift are all tied to the major record labels for a reason. Despite their massive social media followings and strength of their standalone brands, they still want access to distribution that will maximize their reach,” Fact Magazine reported.

Chance, however, has been able to make being indie work for him. But some experts question how far it will take him.

“Chance’s success is fairly unprecedented. His critics have qualified his success as a one-off case that’s hard to replicate. While Chance often takes this criticism personally, it’s less of a personal attack and more of a ‘proceed with caution’ for those who follow him. Becoming the next Chance is not as easy as following his blanket advice. Chance is incredibly talented and had a timely rise. Those are both hard to replicate,” Fact Magazine reported. “Despite Chance’s success, there are still levels that he’s yet to reach…But he’s yet to put up Drake / Beyonce / Rihanna numbers.”