On January 24, 2013, the music industry will drastically change, thanks to an unsigned white rapper by the name of Macklemore. Why? Because Macklemore will be the first unsigned artist in over a decade to hit #1 on U.S. Charts, with the song “Thrift Shop.” Not bad for a guy whose debut full-length album, The Heist, was just a collaboration between friends that sold 78,000 copies in its first week.
Macklemore’s achievement is a big warning sign to the mega-labels, Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and Warner Music Corporation, who for the first time in quite a while, do not have a number one hit. Through just his massive online following, Macklemore was able to go to top without the help of a gigantic label covering his back or spending millions of dollars on marketing. These labels have to be nervous; no longer do artists need to go through them in order to be successful.
Now what does this mean? Music blogs, like the ones who promoted Macklemore, now provide an alternative outlet for artists who want to become famous. In addition, artists are realizing that acts like Macklemore are making more money without signing with a major label. So what do labels do in order to ensure a success story like Macklemore never happens again? Knowing that “Thrift Shop” became big largely due to the catchy beat, I would not be surprised if they throw a lot of money at producer Ryan Lewis for a spot on a big-time label such as G.O.O.D. Music, which is under Universal Music Group. Even then, hit-producers such as Max Martin and RedOne might leave their own labels and go solo after seeing the success that Lewis had. The relationship between label and talents has been drastically changed, and if we don’t see an adequate response on both sides, the music industry might never be the same.
Correction: Macklemore is not the first unsigned artist to reach number one on the Billboard Charts. That distinction goes to Lisa Loeb, with her song, “Stay.” Also, Universal Music Group was incorrectly identified as United Music Group. We thank our readers for pointing these out, and we hope you continue to read the blog.