In what many have described as ‘remarkable’, 23-year-old US rapper, Chance the Rapper, has become the most successful fully-independent musician of our era.
Chance is arguably the most talented rapper of his generation and certainly a pioneer in the music industry.
The rapper’s latest album, ‘Coloring Book’, released in May, is one of the best-reviewed albums of the year and debuted at number 8 on the Billboard 200 list. It’s the first streaming-only album to chart on Billboard’s ranking.
As a result of this, the Grammys is making streaming-only albums available for awards consideration. Chance, whose real name is Chancelor Bennett, could make history again if ‘Coloring Book’ is nominated for an award.
Miraculously, Chance has done all of this without a label supporting him. He has turned down record deals from numerous labels, and depends on word-of-mouth and his Soundcloud account for distribution.
“I’ve met with every A&R, VP of A&R, president of the labels, CEOs. I know all these people,” Chance told Fader last year.
“I’ve had a lot of advice from people [in the industry] who wouldn’t give me that same advice today. It’s not even that they have any ill will towards me because I didn’t take their advice at the time. They’re almost like, ‘Keep going. You’re in uncharted territory, and you’re helping to shed light on what [the future of the business] will look like, and we’re all curious.’”
By staying independent, Chance can keep pushing the music industry to the limit. He has released all three of his albums (which he calls “mixtapes”) for free, along with a collaborative album he worked on.
Instead of making money by selling his music, he gets his income from concert performances and merchandise sales.