Boston Globe Discovers Non-Rock Audiences Also Have MP3 Players, Read Blogs

Aug 28th, 2007 // 1 Comment

This Boston Globe article on the rise of hip-hop/R&B MP3 and gossip blogs feels like a blown opportunity, almost redundant (if not a little bit condescending) in the way it’s trying to make news out of “hip-hop blogs: they’re just like other MP3 blogs!”; it’s a shame, because while the increasing popularity of urban music blogs does represent a distinct and important development for reasons from shifting web demographics to label marketing strategies, this could almost be any story from a few years ago on the rise of MP3 blogs with a find and replace done on “rock” for “rap.” But even as it paints a typical scenario of bloggers and labels working in a tenuous, unspoken agreement, with record companies giving until bloggers take an inch too many, at least it points out that, unique from rock blogs, hip-hop MP3 blogs have the mixtape as conflicted kin:

Unlike those sites, the hip-hop and gossip blogs have a forebear in mixtapes: the R&B and hip-hop music compilations that the record industry has used for decades to create early excitement for music. But mixtapes have faced perennial legal hardships because of crackdowns by the Recording Industry Association of America. As mixtapes’ popularity wanes, fans have turned to black gossip and hip-hop blogs to find songs by artists such as Kanye West, Beyoncé, Common, and Ne-Yo. The music often arrives on the Web weeks before the official CD is released.

But are mixtapes really losing that much of their popularity to MP3 blogs as the article suggests? Somehow it’s hard to believe: Mixtapes offer a completely different experience (often as close to an album as many hip-hop artists get these days) than a single MP3, and you only have to look at the rise of blogs leaking entire mixtapes (or artists leaking and/or posting the tapes themselves) to realize that listeners still want that experience, that blogs and mixtapes have become a tandem experience. The mode of delivery may change, and the physical object may be increasingly a memory, but the format persists.

Setting The Tone For The Hip-Hop Industry [Boston Globe via Pro Hip-Hop]

  1. Al Shipley

    All due respect to Nah Right, but in this article I think both the author and Eskay dramatically overstate the ability of his blog or other rap blogs to popularize songs or “generate buzz and gauge interest in an artist.” Pretty much every song and video posted on Nah Right is by an established artist that anyone who listens to the radio already knows about (along with the occasional middleground artist like Sean Price), and the hits that get posted are either remixes of previous hits or songs that are already getting a push from a label. As far as I can tell, very few rap blogs actually cover unestablished/emerging artists at all, and none of them really have the ability to break a hit record the way a DJ does with mixtapes and radio or club spins. Compared to indie bands that can actually witness an explosion in popularity and mainstream press from ‘blog buzz’ (granted, those explosions are usually mild ones measured in 4 or 5 digit sales), rap blogs are just building up buzz for artists who already have a fanbase.

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