George Chidi: Record Labels Could Have Predatory Life Insurance Payout Strategy, Targeting Artists Most Likely To Die

George Chidi: Record Labels Could Have Predatory Life Insurance Payout Strategy, Targeting Artists Most Likely To Die


Photo by Brett Sayles

Crime journalist George Chidi has been making some observations lately about the hip-hop world. He recently commented on the government RICO case against Young Thug, nothing that the recent dealmaking the feds have been making with Young Thug’s co-defendants means the Atlanta artists was the main target.

Now, the journalist is alluding to the fact that the rise in murders of hip-hop artists may be due to record labels taking out predatory life insurance policies on them. Meaning the artists could be worth more to the label dead than alive.

Chidi, who has written for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Atlanta Magazine, and Vice, among other media outlets, earned an MBA from Georgia Tech. He also holds a journalism degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. 

“If you are an Atlanta rap artist signed to a recording contract with a major label (or a subsidiary), I’d like to look at your contract. I won’t publish your name. I want to look at the life insurance coverage terms,” he tweeted, with the hashtags #trapbeat #drill #atlanta. The hashtags point to Atlanta’s trap and drill hip-hop scene.

His thread explained how a label would make money on a deceased artist. “If the portfolio value of any given artist is, say, $100,000 in this scenario, you have $10 million in investments, and you’re expecting … say, $12 million in revenue, for a reasonable return of 20%. That’s the profit margin of the Big Three labels: Sony, WMG and Universal,” posted Chidi.

He added that the labels probably target certain artists.

“But you’re not insuring each one for $100,000. You’re insuring them for $12 million, maybe. The problem is that it becomes profitable to sign homicide targets. The label doesn’t have to do anything directly to facilitate a murder. All it has to do is pick artists likely to die,” Chidi tweeted.

Chidi isn’t the only one to point out the possibility of labels profiting from the deaths of artists through life insurance policies.

Artist French Montana also claimed profiteering record labels are exploiting murder rap and drill economy with life insurance policies.

In July 2022, Montana slammed record labels for profiting off of the violence related to their murder rap and drill artists by taking out life insurance policies on the artists.

Generally, since music artists are considered independent contractors and not employees, companies do not take out life insurance policies on them. But according to Montana in an interview with Off the Record with DJ Akademiks podcast, record labels are doing this so they can profit from the death of rappers, particularly drill rappers. There has been a surge of killings of drill rappers as of late.

More than 90 deaths — at least three-fourths of rappers killed since 1987 — died in the cities where they grew up. And since the mid-1980s, at least eight rappers have been killed in Los Angeles, but when you include the cities of Compton and Inglewood, that total increases to at least 11.

Artists such as King Von and Drakeo, The Ruler were both killed and had albums released posthumously. By doing so, the records labels are able to capitalize on the artists after their death, Montana said.

“But now it’s even crazier because they getting life insurance on artists,” French said on the podcast. “At least back then we ain’t have that.”

Montana went on to say the labels were “preying” off of death and “making millions, Complex reported.

“They’re being realistic, and you know, you’re supposed to have life insurance anyway, but when the label does it if you don’t have one, that’s crazy, you know?” he asked.

Photo by Brett Sayles: https://www.pexels.com/photo/cemetery-3643290/