Almost every fan has been told at one time or another that the rap game is reminiscent of the crack game. For this reason, it is no surprise producing the best product on the “block” is arguably the most popular hip hop metaphor. While this comparison is open for interpretation, the fact remains that the drug game is a business and so is hip hop. Before cringing at the thought of “culture vultures” milking the art, let’s think about this from the standpoint of independent artists. If music is a product, (which it is), then it is important artists acknowledge the economics that make it move.
Economics of Product 101 can probably be summed up in two words, “quality and consistency”. Quality, while it is subjective, is crucial when creating a demand. From the standpoint of music, this can translate to elements such as engineering and production, to content and sound. For example, to appeal to a hip hop fan that loves storytelling and the power of the spoken word, artists need to make a conscious effort to meet this standard. Similarly, a fan that loves crisp hard hitting beats is going to demand top notch sound engineering.
On the other hand, supply, and the ability of an artist to produce music with consistency is the key to keeping listeners engaged. Whether a track attracts one listener or one million, eventually fans will demand more, and without supply they will go elsewhere. This is where producing unique and authentic music can really prevail in terms of artists gaining loyal fans. Plus, the creative process of producing music lends itself best to artists staying true to their inspirations and making “their” music. In the highly competitive music market, a quality product is the right start, and while it may seem logical to begin creating music that is currently in high demand, it is important artists understand they will not be the only suppliers.
The concept of supply and demand is fundamental to any business, especially emerging artists trying to “be heard”. In the past, major labels and outlets like radio controlled exposure. Now however, thanks to technology and an ongoing evolution of digital music many of the barriers have been lifted, giving aspiring artists the opportunity to be discovered on their own. While this control is great, it is also a significant responsibility. Supply and demand may seem to mirror the relationship between the “chicken and the egg”, but simply put, a consistent, quality product will always be discovered if it is being created and shared.