Today's Mathematics: How Hip Hop Measures Commercial Success

Sales have been declining for over a decade, and the concepts of gold and platinum are over 55 years old. It's time to change how commercial success is measured in Hip Hop.

“Back to back / Double plat / I did what you won’t / Men lie women lie / Numbers don’t…” –Jay-Z, “Reminder.”

In early January, Kid Cudi took to Twitter and essentially threatened to launch a jihad against his record label because he didn’t see a proper correlation between his YouTube/VEVO views and his plays on terrestrial radio.

And in December of 2012, during a periodic audit, Google reportedly deleted 2 billion views from Sony Music Entertainment and Universal Music Group’s YouTube channels. Why is any of this important? I think we live in a culture infatuated with numbers. I’m not talking specifically about Hip Hop, but Popular American culture—and particularly music—in general. The rise of sabermetrics, Google Analytics, and the popularity of books such as Freakonomics have created a climate where even casual followers can dig deep into the numbers at a granular level. Recently, when talking to a publicist that also trades in Hip Hop, we had a friendly disagreement over placing their client on HipHopDX. The civil back and forth ended when I was told, “That’s cool. You guys are still behind AllHipHop with that Alexa rating.” Just in case you’re wondering, Alexa provides traffic data and rankings for thousands of websites, Hip Hop or otherwise, throughout the world.

As much as numerical analysis has spread throughout every aspect of pop culture; the music industry is still lagging behind. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Major labels, and the industry as a whole, have been embarrassingly slow adapting to formerly groundbreaking technology such as printed sheet music, compact discs and mp3 technology, to name a few. After decades of price gouging consumers, that slow adaptation was one of the reasons people like Shawn Fanning of Napster and Apple’s Steve Jobs stole the record industry’s business from right under their nose.

What does all or any of this have to do with Hip Hop? For the better part of two decades, people like 50 Cent, Jay-Z and Sean Combs have been telling us to equate wealth and sales figures with talent and skill. And Hip Hop listeners have been blindly following this logic. I’m just as guilty as any other Hip Hop fan. I can’t sit here and pretend that HipHopDX doesn’t run a weekly SoundScan tally as well as an annual list of the artists that earned platinum and gold plaques. I think there’s certainly a correlation between all of these elements. But as platinum-selling artists Vanilla Ice and Ying Yang Twinz prove, popularity doesn’t equal talent. Given the above statements, maybe it’s time for a change in how we measure artist’s commercial success.

Analyzing Sony And Universal’s “Fake” YouTube Views

Google’s December audit of their YouTube views is just the latest in many cases where listeners feel major labels are skewing the numbers. We’re bombarded by press releases about the billions of YouTube views accumulated by artists like Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber. I feel this trickles down to Hip Hop. Sometimes high profile artists representing different genres are genuinely drawn to work with each other. Kid Cudi’s 2009 effort featured truly organic collaborations with Indie Rockers MGMT and Ratatat. But more often than not, as artists hope to crossover into other markets and expand their reach, we see artists like Nicki Minaj and Big Sean working with Justin Bieber. I get the impression that this perpetuates itself. And media outlets ultimately cover these numbers-based offerings as opposed to finding material reflective of their audience’s tastes. And we’re no exception. Artists want sales, and we want and need pageviews.

As it turns out, this YouTube story may not be much of a story at all.

“The company recently decided to remove view counts for videos that are no longer live on the channel, or so-called ‘dead videos,’” offers Alex Pham of Billboard, in a comprehensive article that cites YouTube, anonymous music industry executives and Music analytics company, Next Big Sound.

“For Universal and Sony, that meant thousands of music videos that over the past three years slowly have migrated to the VEVO channel, which is jointly owned by the two companies. A senior label executive confirmed the migration. In other words, those views happened; they weren't ‘faked’ or even double counted when they went on to Vevo. But because the videos are no longer on the channel, YouTube considers them ‘dead videos.’ They still live on in YouTube, just under a different channel.”

How We Discover New Music

The precious BDS spins Cudi ranted about and the YouTube views Google audited—whether real or imagined—matter because they’re the primary ways people discover new music. They’re also ways labels and artists monetize their product.

“The bottom line is going to be about the impact of what you do,” offers Bruce Waynne of Midi Mafia. In addition to working with his partner, Dirty Swift, on projects for 50 Cent, Frank Ocean and Bieber, Midi Mafia help develop new artists. “It’s moving into something else. People don’t listen to the radio anymore, and when they do it’s from a different perspective. The radio is more about commercials now. It’s almost like, if you hear that one record playing, it’s the most popular commercial playing right now. Then you probably go home and jump on YouTube to listen to it again. The mentality is, ‘Who’s coming up? What’s the next thing?’ Before, you couldn’t really tell what the next thing was. The next thing was dictated to you, but that doesn’t really exist anymore.”

A recent study by Nielsen—the analytics group behind TV ratings and the weekly SoundScan reports—supports Bruce’s theory. According to their annual Music 360 Report, “64% of teenagers listen to music through YouTube than through any other source.” Older consumers prefer discovering music via the radio, but you don’t need a detailed report to tell you that most major labels are targeting young people between the ages of 16 and 24 and not “older consumers.” But that coveted youth demographic doesn’t really buy physical albums anymore. Most of them are aware the album probably won’t be as good as the free mixtape that preceded it. Besides, the album is available as a free, illegal download on a torrent site. I guess it ultimately comes down to who we want to believe as consumers, and I think Cudi is in a no-win situation. The YouTube views indicate that young people are still very interested in his music. Somehow, he can’t parlay that interest into more radio airplay, and what we assume, is more revenue.

New Standards For Commercial Success

I think it’s time for some totally new metrics altogether. Rappers and their labels are always bragging about their platinum and gold sales, despite all of the concrete data we have proving people are no longer interested in buying physical albums. After doing a little bit of digging, it seems fairly easy to fudge the numbers. The Recording Industry Association of America created the concepts of gold (500,000 copies sold) and platinum (1 million copies sold) in 1958. It’s safe to say a lot has changed in the 55 years since then, yet we’re all hanging on to this outdated standard. Additionally, labels and artists can use club sales and “club free goods” to count towards their certification tallies. These club free goods are often albums or singles shipped to retailers for free, and sometimes they can account for up to 15% of the total sales of an album. So when a rapper is posing on Instagram with his platinum plaque in the background, and you feel something just doesn’t add up, you’re probably right.

“Digital albums are sort of a stopgap in the meantime—just like iTunes—but I think we’re still progressing towards something else,” offers Dirty Swift. “Who knows what that is? I think at the moment, there’s really no other way to measure it, so you have to keep those things in place. But in 10 years, I don’t know. Are albums gonna be albums anymore? I don’t know if we’ll still be doing albums the way we’re doing them now. They may be something different. At that point you may need to reevaluate what success is and what it isn’t when you award something. There are things that exist now that didn’t exist 10 years ago, like phone apps. Five years ago, what was Instagram or Twitter? In 10 years, who knows what’s gonna be around and how people are gonna be consuming music?”

This may explain the heavy use of Nielsen SoundScan figures instead of the RIAA’s. Nielsen SoundScan is a wholly different entity from the RIAA, and they also provide weekly sales reports. The SoundScan numbers are a step in the right direction, but again, physical sales don’t really reflect the current marketplace. As long as they’re not signed to a 360 deal, artists can always count on touring as a good way to generate revenue. And with the advent of subscription services such as Spotify, listeners aren’t really paying to own physical copies of music. They’re paying for access to music via a subscription. The Federal Court battle between Interscope (also under the UMG umbrella) and F.B.T. Productions over Eminem’s digital royalties underscores that we’re still in the process of redefining success in the Digital Era.

What Major Labels Aren’t Telling Us

In the meantime, we’re how labels can spin the concept of a “Number One” album. In May of 2010, we heard a lot of talk about B.o.B.’s number one debut, The Adventures Of Bobby Ray. In a convenient bit of record industry spin, what we didn’t hear was how the 84,000 copies sold made it the lowest sales total for a number one album since Chrisette Michele’s Epiphany registered 83,000 the previous year. While B.o.B. earned his gold certification and number one debut without any shady business tactics, recording industry veteran, Tom Silverman of Tommy Boy Records, explained how labels can easily resort to less scrupulous means to lock down a more favorable spot on the charts.

“People are telling me that the majors have teams of people who actually buy singles on iTunes to try to drive it up the charts—buying their own songs,” Silverman told in a 2010 interview. “It blew my mind. I mean, we’re not learning anything. So if they buy 50,000 songs, we’re talking $50,000 less 70 percent, so it would cost about $15,000. For $15,000 in a week, they can buy 50,000 more song downloads, which could drive the record up three or four positions on the chart. And the hype of it all would make people believe it, and then the next week it would be real, which is what always used to happen.”
Again, my stating that numbers can be manipulated and record companies often lie isn’t exactly a groundbreaking opinion. But the larger question is, after decades of using the same old standard, why isn’t anyone in or outside of the industry proposing a new metric for how we measure commercial success?

Winning With Increased Revenue Streams

The impact of licensing deals, merchandise sales and touring income are a few things we rarely see on the charts. I think if we’re going to reduce artists to numbers on a spreadsheet and only compare their monetary impact, we may as well level the playing field. Why continue to use an outdated metric like record sales, when the average major label recording deal only gives artists a small percentage of those sometimes inflated sales figures anyway? Artists, such as Frank Ocean, Theophilus London and Cee Lo Green are licensing their songs to various sitcoms and television shows. A recent episode of the WB drama “Gossip Girl” included no less than five tracks from Ocean’s Channel Orange album. While Theophilus London got some exposure to the teenie-bopper demographic when two of his tracks were used in an episode of “90210.” As it currently stands, there’s no way to measure that kind of engagement.

I think major corporations will always find ways to manipulate data to their advantage. And if an artists opts to do business with one of the big three record labels, they can more or less expect to be treated like chattel. But in an age where we can access a wealth of statistical data at the click of a mouse, independent artists can have much more of a say over their financial future. And a return to the good old, boom bap days of artists refusing to get in bed with major corporations is out of the question. If we’re really going to measure an emcee’s success by the bottom line, we should take all the available data into account.

Omar Burgess is a Long Beach, California native who has contributed to various magazines, newspapers and has  been an editor at HipHopDX since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @OmarBurgess.


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  • The Passportal

    Hip hop is trailing other genres in album sales for a few reasons. One is the sheer abundance of music and the ability of artists to crank out multiple albums in a short amount of time. The other is the audience. Most hip hop listeners are urban and/or young, and primarily male. They are generally more computer literate than fans of other genres. Like someone else stated, with so much of the hip-hop scene focused on free mixtapes distributed on the internet these days it can only be expected that the majority of users will download the studio albums for free. As someone in their 30s who has spent thousands of dollars on cds in the golden age of hip hop, I can't imagine ever paying for another CD again. "But what about the artists?" Well, Like Frank Lucas said in American Gangster, I'm thinking about them as much as they ever thought about me. All those times back in the day paying 16 dollars for a cd with a few good songs on it, hope you enjoyed it cause those days are gone and ain't ever coming back. Better pimp out that tour bus and be ready to live on the road, cause a live show is the only way you will get any more of my money. Truth.

  • TYBO2020


  • Anonymous

    I understand the little girls and some people are just "jocking", meaning in a sense they are on to the latest fly shit, money, chains and whips. But as quick as the corporate industry shows them a new and even worse scenario to hop on and "jock" they'll be on to the next fad. Reason being is there's a million guys out there trying to make an easy buck off hip hop

  • Propz101

    Fuck that, Fuck this whole post and commercial success there is so much more more talented music out independently but it's over shadowed by stupid music that is "suppose" to be hot but it's not.

  • jerryc

    in five years there wont be cds, and labels are goign to need to finda new way to make money. What they will probably do is take more money off of tours(which artists currently take most of). I reall yhope that since artists need to actually have talent to sell out a huge spot, maybe labels will stop trying to suport these one and done no talent losers. A guy like 2 chainz is incredibly hot right now, but in a year will two chainz sell out a 10,000 seat spot? No way. Hell sell out a 1,500 seat spot at the most. People like Dre, Eminem, 50, hov, etc., can sell out an arena, and I hope that the labels realize you need big time talent to do it.

  • 2 Icy Boi!

    Im signed to YMCMB. it wuz da best deal in ma life. swag

  • Anonymous

    I see the writer is coming from a corporate business perspective, instead of the "hip hop perspective". I sense strong empathy for the recording industry in this article (NOT SURPRISING, BEING DX IS A CORPORATE OWNED RAP WEBSITE), which, in fact, has been proven to be not very beneficial for up-and-coming hip hop artists PERIOD. That being said, as well written this article was, i was kinda disappointed the writer didn't just say "go INDY". Who wants to support a corrupt industry? There is much more oppurtunity and we are worried about what position so and so's song did on billboard. I personally don't care... as long as the music is good. But judging by today's climate, most of the music sucks, and they are still pulling millions of views on Youtube (I for one believe they have faked views, just got some writers to "research" this problem and downplay it just to cover their ass). So I have been lied to plenty by this music industry. They have sold people dreams of fly whips, chains, riches and bitches. White executives have been exploiting my people and culture just to use the very same things we have created to empower ourselves, to destroy our homes and communities. And this is supposed to be ok? We just need "A NEW WAY TO MEASURE ONE"S SUCCESS IN THE MUSIC BUSINESS"... I call BULLSHIT. Fuck the industry. We need to get up off our asses, and stop "just giving" our money to these corporate thugs. Salute to Tech9, Doom, Too Short, Master P ETC, they made it INDEPENDENTLY. And I know DX's Demographic for the most part HAVE NO CLUE WHAT THE FUCK WAS SAID IN THIS ARTICLE, but on some real shit, this type of mentality is exactly why sales have been declining. It's been watered down! I really hope Mr. Burgess isn't a person of color with this logic. I understand being employed by the industry has it's perks, but this is Straight UP ASS KISSING! That ain't hip-hop, we go against the grain... not embrace it!!!!

  • Anonymous

    my thing is everyone is going to have there top artist and what not list, I measure success on longevity and album relevance, look at a artist like Yasin Bey - Dropped "black on both sides" "Blackstar", and "the Escatic" 2 classics and a really good album and he is great on tour that is what makes people successful, everyone knows him and most artist respect him and what he does and that is what it is all about. jay-z will never be better then nas on Emcee level. I have seen both live both do good live shows, Jay is the better business man not emcee, both are successful both are relevance in the hip game on a equal level. Record sales for me don't make me think about success, aka nikki minjai she went platinum and she gets next to no respect in the hip hop, I look at someone like murs and I say I would rather do it my way and do it how I like then to do what someone's else says I need to do.

  • mr tibbs

    Good music sells bottom line. I brought about 21 albums for the entire 2012 year and I downloaded about 600 garbage albums that I'm thankful I didn't spend my money on. I don't feel bad about it, artist should feel bad about the shit they're releasing. Kendrick Lamar is the best example of hard work and building a brand properly. Fuck ya'll commercial rappers!!!! Ya'll can brag and swag on these nutts!!!!

  • 7thEmerson

    Let me ponder on this a bit........ ......nah this is just a so-so article. Hip-Hop needs to step up, the certifications doesn't need to be dumbed down. Other genres are still making sales and if Hip-Hop was crafted better and not so oversaturated, they could too. They make parodies of us all the time and moonlight as rappers, and still make bank. We need to stop finding cop-outs for the wackness that's predominant right now.

  • Brandon

    You can't judge an artist off of album sales. Big Boi not going platinum is beyond me! Rick Ross not going platinum is beyond me! Eminem don't have to say sh*t on album and go platinum in a month!

    • Anonymous

      Because Eminem has actual talent, Rick Ross sell? he fucken sucks and all of his songs are the same(drugs,women,cars) get ur head out of your ass thinking that boy is hot

  • Anonymous

    I don't think 500,000 for gold or 1 million for platinum is outdated. But 10,000,000 for diamond?? I'd say 5 or less.

  • Tim

    Yea man record sales almost are irrelevant!!! Yo for real people need to just make music that is just different. Shit, look at Macklemore & Lewis having the hottest record in the United States and its Independent Rap!!

  • GetFree

    The music industry is 80% business and only 20% music. This is one of the main reasons i don't fuck with mainstream music. That 80% doesn't effect me, the only connection i have with an artist is through his music. When the focus is on the business side and the numbers, the music lacks in quality. We as a group of fans are cutting ourselves short because of what... we want to fit and be cool and follow everything these artists tell us to do? Be an individual and stop participating in this big game of follow the leader that the music industry has created. Expand your ears and listen to everything and not just what the industry wants you to.

    • @dustywaxhead

      Y'all very right. Music is business first. The music is not the main goal, but rather the money being made. The same reason why McDonalds will sell much, but is it really quality food?

    • Anonymous

      Rap fans are some of the most misguided, confused, hypocritical people i know.

    • RealTalk

      I hear ya, i hate when rap fans talk about doing me but yet they popping bottles of ciroc, making it rain in clubs, wearing polo and skinny jeans, yelling out yolo all because their favorite rapper is. Your not doing you fam, your doing him.

  • Anonymous

    I jerked off to this article and skeeted all over nicki minaj's platinum plaque.

  • worldwide

    ppl need to wake the fuck up. were being brainwahed with the media and the pop culture. they want ppl to be dumbed down n listen to wack shit about buying chains cars and all that bull materialistic shit. real talk were so close to another cold war. get it together n start careing about what matters. just listen to the world respect yourself follow your own trend and live a better life. fuck where did that come out

  • Anonymous

    Kendrick Lamar sold 600K and is still moving units, despite very lil in the way of hit singles. I think this whole article is a way for the hip hop community to beat around the bush and avoid the real problem. The music coming out now is repetitive and boring and nobody wants to buy it. Other genres of music can still produce superstars, hip hop last year didn't even produce one artist who sold over a million units. This isnt a music business situation where people in the Country or Pop field want to change the certifications, you want it done so you dont have to answer to why hip hop artist are not selling like they use to. Kendrick's success proves that people will still by something if they like it, and he did it without the radio pounding it into your head every 5 minutes. Stop trying to get the world to lower its expectations for your benefit and start producing music with substance that people can feel enough that it compells them to put their money down.

    • Anonymous

      Ive been a follower of Kendric since 2006 but what you said is not accurate. Theres alot of ins and outs when it comes to sales & the relationship with the retailers and so on. Thats why i cant take bloggers seriously cuz as much as yall think yall know you have no idea. I dont claim to know it all & thats the difference. I just listen to what i like dont give a fuck if everybody likes it or dislikes it as long as i like it im good. Generally underground fans just love anything that not alot of ppl listen to while mainstream fans are vice versa. Im neither of those types.

  • Knowledge

    They are going to have to do something with certifications because physical sells are going to steadily decrease until everything is all digital. Digital #'s cant be tracked unless its from a source you have to buy it from. Most people I know still illegally download. Even years ago people were dubbing tapes and CD's so there were tons of copies that will never be accounted for. Back in the 90's and early 00's, digital sales were nothing and people actually had to order or go out to a Camelot, Musicland, Blockbuster, Best Buy, etc. to get actual CD's, tapes, singles, etc. The record companies had to spend money for production of physical records/cd's. Now they dont have to spend that money and they can charge less for an album or single. I use to buy Maxi/Cd singles for 6.99, some full length CD's at 18.99. That was the you can buy a digital single for like $2 and its actually more available to people know because of cell phones and computers. So they must change certifications eventually. Back in the 50's, 60's, and 70's gold was actually 1 million sold until the RIAA changed it. Either the industry is going to have to lower certifications significantly or GOLD/PLATINUM use just needs to go away or it will be outdated and too misleading. Its going to happen eventually.

  • ajax

    Hip - hop food for thought... Hell yeah! Something to add? uh...

  • minced

    Why is nicki minaj always on hip hop dx??? she's not even anything, she's just shitty pop.

  • dentaldamboy

    I told all of you that Atlantic lost tons of money on B.o.B. I work for Birdman, I know these things. While all of the other rappers are going broke, YMCMB stay getting paid!

    • Anonymous

      because your boss and weezy are on tape 2 or 3 times kissin like gay lovers

    • dentaldamboy

      YMCMB haters always talk about dude hooking up. Why is that?

    • Anonymous

      dentaldamboy, you don't know shit. Atlantic did not lose a penny with B.o.B; they made millions with that nigga. You don't work for Birdman. quit the delusional bullshit. Interscope, Def Jam, Atlantic, and many major/ineprendent labels are makinmg more money than YMCMB.

    • Anonymous

      you his main bitch right? he puts his dick in your ass and gives you dollar bills to spray your load on his star tattoo

  • Tru

    Record labels know that their artists are not the most talented in the game so they have to find a way to make people buy into their artists. They do this trough numbers. This is no secret, but something that has been going on for a while. Maybe it will take a website like this to make people realize that, and persuade them to think for themselves instead of following whats popular. The reason rap album sales are going down is because of downloading but what do you expect when the majority of todays rap albums are trash. I know i dont want to pay $15 for three good songs. Good music equals sales.

  • Anonymous

    If you read this article the whole way through, then you probably have a brain. In that case check out real hip hop wit real lyrics and a real message

  • Anonymous

    This article was actually pretty good

  • Joey Jojo

    This article only applies to Hip Hop because Bruno Mars, Maroon 5, One Direction, Katy Perry, Adele, Rihana, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift all do big numbers. Those fans actually buy albums, Hip Hop fans do not like buying albums and instead download. Thats why Hip Hop sales are going down...

    • Anonymous

      Considering rappers tend to release 50x more FREE music (mixtapes, free singles etc) and the hip-hop fans have to find it on their own. Its not that hard to find leaks in hip-hop however in other genres it is because fans don't need to look for free mixtapes because none are made. (R&B maybe). For example datpiff, you can get a mixtape & album of your favourite rapper, so what is the point of going out to buy it? ( I am not condoning this, I am just trying to think in a different mindset I love getting hard-copies plus they don't get randomly deleted.)

    • Knowledge

      Rihanna is misleading everyone...she does huge #'s with her singles...not her actual album sells. Especially here in the US, she actually does better in Europe. Her albums are all pretty much just platinum. You would think she does big #'s because she has put out so many albums since her debut. Most of her sells come from her singles though. The industry is crazy nowadays because of digital sales...folks dont even have to leave the house to buy stuff. Adele and Taylor have benefitted from both album and single sales, especially Adele. Not many albums will go Diamond within 2 years of their release anymore.

  • yeaaahh

    This generation is like the 80s all over again. People only care about sex, drugs, and partying so that's what sells. Record labels know that so that's what they look for. It's gonna take a special rapper to make the game do a 180 like how Grunge did the hair bands in the 90s. Then maybe good music will sell again.

    • Anonymous

      Yep you're definitely white ^. I swear white people bring up in every sentence, thats why hes called the rap version of Elvis. Hes like a god to these cornball ass dudes. They really look at Eminem like some hip hop savior or some shit smh when he does nothing that other rappers dont do.

    • Your Opinion Means Nothing...

      Right now, the closest thing we have to that is Kendrick Lamar... And Eminem, depending on opinions...

  • Anonymous

    numbers do lie, not only in music biz, but also in science, people give fake test results

    • Anonymous

      All numbers given have to be proven once stated, especially in science.. which is exactly the point of this article lol bullshit will come to the light once actually analyzed. This goes for anything. Numbers don't lie, people do..and they eventually get caught

  • Anonymous

    doesnt need to be a genius to figure shit out...wack retarded rappers are spending alot of money on paying radios,sites,magazines,MTV,BET etc

  • Justin Case

    I totally disagree with adjusting plaque certifications for hip hop. By doing that we're giving up by basically saying its okay for the fans to download music. It's up to the fans to start buying good music again. If fans start buying again maybe artists who are slacking with the effort will pick it up a bit. It's not fair that an artists in another genre has to sell 1 million copies of an album, while a rap artists only has to sell 500,000. Adjusting certifications for one genre just shows how poor the support for hip hop/rap really is. It will be looked upon as if the genre is dying. Maybe it is. F#ck lowering expectations. It's up to us to help catch up to the genres that are actually selling out there.

  • Anonymous

    I was thinking the same thing. I would say diamond is 5,000,000 now instead of 10,000,000 but people barely sale that much nowadays.

  • Anonymous

    you can still go plat with a good album look at lil wayne eminem taylor swift they still go multi plat



    • Anonymous

      Yeah cuz you're an artist and have a contract with them right? See thats the problem you dont know SHIT stop talking when all you know is what you heard. Ever heard of publishing? Every heard of royalties and so on? Artist have DIFFERENT DEALS you idiot. Some make more off of it some make less its all about their contract. All you talk is what you heard ppl say and its clear. Artist dont make that much of touring either when they have crews, taxes and once again it depends on how hot the artist is and if said artist can pack a venue. Some artist take money from the back end of ticket sales while some take money for appearances. Thats really what artist make most of their money from, appearances and sponsor deals. Most of the brands you see them rap about and tweet about are SPONSORS. So when The Game, Meek Mill, Rick Ross or whoever post pics of Nike shoes..those are sponsor deals they have either them directly or their labels. Then artist also make money by appearing at clubs (which is what mmg & ymcmb does alot) without even performing or other things.

  • Nemesis

    Ive been sayin this for a while, but imo we should just cut it by 250,000 is gold and 500,000 is platinum now...

  • Manny Faces

    Yep. Sorry Jay, numbers DO lie. Good piece. Music biz is more smoke and mirrors then ever. (And lolz at the so-called upcoming rap-anythings who will look at this post and not read it because it's long.)