Will You '70s Babies Quit Talking About How Much Better Rap Was in the '90s?

Labels no longer have a monopoly on distribution.

As recently as a decade ago, record labels monopolized the sales and marketing of their signed artists, which inevitably meant they also had control of the distribution of materials their artists created. In the past, record labels (like most businesses) are an oligopoly where only a handful of the businesses controlled nearly the entirety of the distribution market (and to a large extent, they still do). But with the rise of social media, music blogs, and sharing sites, the control of distribution had spiraled out of their hands.

The Internet is a platform for artists to brand themselves as they see fit. Look at an artist like Tech N9ne who founded his own indepedent label, Strange Music, and distributes music on his terms as a prime example of making major money without a major label. Better yet, look at Mac Miller, who with very little airplay and fewer physical record sales than you'd think managed to become a major star through digital sales and a top notch social media game.

Matter fact, let's talk about recent Grammy winner Frank Ocean. Frank Ocean signed to Def Jam and essentially sat on the shelf and was largely unknown. So he opted to drop his own mixtape, nostalgia, ULTRA., on his Tumblr. Lo and behold, a star was born.

The more power an artist has online, the less control their record label has. Music fans can buy exactly what they want online at any time, and while streaming or buying albums online is not on par with the prices that a distributed CD may be, it's opening up an entirely transparent world of music distribution that's better for fans and for artists and not that pesky middle man known as the record label. 

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