How The Internet Changed Hip Hop – Part 1: Print Media
We’ve all heard how brilliant the internet can be for unsigned artists and budding entreprenuers.
We also never stop hearing how illegal downloading has affected the record industry.
But it’s also had a negative effect on other forms of media.
Rap magazines were an integral part of hip hops infrastructure. Magazines were tastemakers & gatekeepers. They told fans who was hot, who’s next up, which records were must haves and when records were dropping.
The internet blew them into oblivion. A 200 page magazine has to be thoroughly edited before hitting the print works. Whatever happened in the hip hop world used to reach the fans through mediums such as radio, TV & magazines et al.
The photo above is Strategic Record Research that was conducted in 1997. It shows that the internet made up less than 1% of how fans found out about new releases.
- As internet connections got faster, hip hop sites began to receive more traffic – this took advertisers out of the magazines and onto the websites
- The magazine is monthly whereas hip hop sites are updated daily
- The websites offer the same type of material but for free
The internet caused the news cycle to speed up. For example, The Source would feature new artists in their Unsigned Hype section, once a month. A hip hop website will post a new artist once an hour. Unfortunatley,there is a tendency in internet journalism to champion anything new. This is a negative thing because new doesn’t always mean good. This has left the fans with a lot of artists who lose their support just as soon as they receive it.
There is also the issue of astroturfing. Astroturfing used to be confined to indie rock groups, who appeared unsigned but were secretly already in a major label deal. (We recently saw this with Paramore)
It’s a smart marketing ploy to make the artist look more credible by receiving acclaim & exposure without the help of a major label. With hip hop sites, astroturfing now occurs more frequently then in in indie rock, in order to make an artist look like they have gained a natural buzz.
Look out for Part 2 – coming soon