The rap industry is notoriously hard to get into, and it can be an ever bigger challenge for underground rappers. There are lots of rappers out there hoping to get a record deal, and a lot of them have talent and heart, but a tiny percentage of them will ever make it onto a record label's roster. What's the alternative? Going independent.
Underground rappers can act as their own record labels, recording, promoting, and distributing their own music. The likes of Immortal Technique have had successful careers while being independent, so it's entirely possible. Before making the decision to get into the life of an underground rapper, it's good to know what the pros and cons of it are, and that's exactly what we're going to do here.
1. All The Profit is Yours
Underground rappers might live a life that comes with its fair share of challenges, but when it pays off, it pays off big. Underground rappers don't have to split their profit or music royalties with any record labels, agents, producers, or promoters. What you make, you keep. It's that simple.
2. You're In Full Control
Creative people do their best work when they are free to do their own thing. Underground rappers never have to deal with the demands and limitations of record executives and producers. They can talk about whatever they want, whenever they want, and that's what hip hop's all about, isn't it?
3. Freedom To Diversify
Record labels can have massive amounts of control over their signings once they make their record deal. They can control what you wear, where you perform, who you collaborate with, and even what genre of music you perform. Underground rappers don't have to deal with any of that. If an underground rapper wakes up one morning feeling like they want to record a country music album, there's absolutely no one to stop them, even if their fans might buck a little.
1. Market Reach
The power of a record deal lies mostly in the reach of their distribution and massive marketing budgets. Underground rappers, especially those just starting out, will have a tough time reaching as many people as the record labels can although the internet and social media has evened out the playing field a little.
2. The Grammy's? Probably Not.
The fact is, being under a record contract opens up some doors underground rappers just can't pass through. You ever seen an independent rapper performing at the Grammy's or even at the BET Awards? Didn't think so. Underground rappers potentially miss out on some big money-making and high-exposure opportunities, which can get to be frustrating for some.
3. All the Bills are on You
Underground rappers don't have the advantages of record labels footing bills for them or paying them an advance for a record or album they're working on. Studio time? You pay. Promotional posters? You pay. Plane ticket to a show? You pay. It can really put a strain on the fiances of underground rappers just starting out.
The Final Word
It might seem like underground rappers have it a lot harder than signed ones, financially speaking, but you have to weigh it out for yourself. What's important to you? What did you get into rap for? Once you've got that figured out, the decision becomes easy. Remember that underground rappers might have it rough starting out, but good music always comes out on top in the end.
Want to kick back and discuss something other than hip hop? Do it here.
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