(Forbes) Forbes names Eritream-American rapper, Nipsey Hussle , independent music's Next Mogul

From: Biniam Tekle <biniamt_at_dehai.org_at_dehai.org>
Date: Sat, 4 Apr 2015 10:42:49 -0400


3/31/2015 _at_ 9:30AM 19,049 views

Nipsey Hussle: Independent Music's Next Mogul

Rapper Nipsey Hussle is selling his 100 copies of his latest mixtape
for $1,000 each. (Image credit: Johnny Nunez)

Before Wu-Tang banked on the power of scarcity by announcing it would
auction just one copy of its next next album, independent rapper
Nipsey Hussle had already shown that less is more.

Hussle, real name Ermias Asghedom, made $100,000 in a day in 2013 by
selling 1,000 copies of mixtape Crenshaw for $100 apiece from a pop-up
store in his native Los Angeles, plowing profits into his label, All
Money In No Money Out. Jay Z bought 100 copies.

“I believe that economics is based on scarcity of markets,” says Cash
Prince Nipsey Hussle, 29, on the phone from LA, where he has just
returned following an 18-date European tour. “And it’s possible to
monetize your art without compromising the integrity of it for

Full List: Hip-Hop Cash Princes 2015

Hussle is now selling 100 copies of new record Mailbox Money for
$1,000 each as part of his Proud2Pay campaign. The high school dropout
says he’s made over $60,000 so far from limited editions that come
with keepsakes and fan experiences including concerts, priority access
to new material, and one-of-a-kind gifts, like an old rap notebook or
signed photo.

In doing so, he has cut out the middle man, distributing straight to
fans. “I think you can give a pure artistic product if you understand
how to build your own industry,” Hussle explains. “A solution built by
an artist serves the artist more than the solution the capitalist
comes up with.”

In a tradition paved by Radiohead’s 2007 pay-what-you-want album, In
Rainbows, Hussle’s Mailbox Money is also streaming on Spotify and
Google GOOGL -1.51% play, available for purchase in the iTunes store
($9.99), and for free on mixtape website Datpiff, where it has been
downloaded over 272,000 times.

“I feel like the mixtape websites are still a very big part of hiphop
culture,” says Hussle, who built a following through releasing free
mixtapes in 2008. “People consume music via lots of different
platforms so I wanted to make it available everywhere.”

True to his moniker, Hussle sees direct distribution as a chance to
reclaim power from labels and tech companies who control artist
payouts for music sales and streaming. Hussle himself was signed to
Cinematic Music Group and Epic Epic Records in 2009 before a regime
change at the label stalled his debut. He ultimately opted to leave in
2010, taking his catalogue with him, but signed an override which
stipulated that if he joined another major label before the end of
2013, Epic Records would take a 5% cut on all earnings.

Forced into independence, Hussle has flourished. Understanding artists
make money on the road and through merchandise, post-Crenshaw Hussle
set out on a 31-date tour and expanded his clothing line to a
forthcoming flagship store in LA set to open this year. He built his
own studio where he has been recording his delayed debut album, due
out in 2015 on All Money In No Money Out, the label he owns a quarter
of (remaining equity is split evenly between Hussle’s brother Black
Sam and friends Adam Andhban and Steven Donaldson.)

“Music can go digital and will,” Hussle emphasized. “I want to put my
cash register in the part of the process that can’t go digital.”

By focusing on live shows and exclusive experiences that can’t be
pirated, Hussle is setting himself up to become the next indie mogul,
a la Strange Music’s Tech N9ne, who made $8 million last year. Though
he must scale up sales – and room sizes – to join that ranking, his
marketing magic and industry foresight makes him a prospective
candidate for Cash King.

So what does he make of Wu-Tang’s decision to sell a single copy of
their album, The Wu – Once Upon A Time In Shaolin, through online art
auction house Paddle8?

“I think it makes a lot of sense,” Hussle responded. “You perceive
value: People are in awe when they see art, but it’s like how dare you
try to offer a piece of music [as art] when it comes from hip-hop

Hussle has a simpler metric to value his work’s worth: “If I inspire
you, pay for it, period.”
Received on Sat Apr 04 2015 - 10:43:29 EDT

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