5 Steps to Save Hip-Hop (and all music) in the Digital Age

Since the tragic event involving Troy Ave at Irving Plaza, it hit me again that Hip-Hop is slowly becoming it’s own worst enemy. It is eating itself alive by the very people who claim to love it. As an avid listener (and practitioner in my 20s), I feel that we need to desperately veer this music towards a whole other direction! Right now, with the power of corporations and people’s lack of need to do anything remotely artistic or forward-thinking for the culture, there has to be a message and a strategic movement to get this industry back on a worthwhile path. We shouldn’t just let it organically find itself a new identity or patiently wait for a new quirky artist to thrust it into a whole new musical landscape. For the lovers of Hip-Hop, we have to take this music by the reins and pull it towards a destination that will not destroy our ability to explore our passions but to also inspire a world of people who listen to the music. With that said, here are 5 steps to be followed in order to bring music to a better space for all.


  • Form a Group – Gather your friends and colleagues to network a consortium or any group body that will develop a movement of like-minded people (artists and fans)
  • Create a Showcase/Event – Build a music event showcasing the best of what Hip-Hop should be. This should be a place where people can go and “tribe” their likes. It’s got to be exciting, visionary and rejuvenating to connect with those that understand the deterioration of the music but are actively working on the art form to be as they think it should. We all have to reenergize with people that understand our plight.
  • Create a Digital Platform – Create a digital platform that you can see, hear and buy your favorite forward-thinking artist. i.e. Itunes. Apple Itunes can be used but they are apart of the system that has taken advantage of the music so, at some point, someone has to create a separate model. I encourage anyone to build a medium that provides an opportunity to hear unheard of music. It’s extremely important to build a support system that is a viable financial structure to compensate artists adequately to live their dream.
  • Develop a Radio Podcast –Set up a digital radio show that plays the type of music you want to hear. Whether the artists are A-listers who would like to promote their independent project or the up-and-coming with a fresh look on the music. As we know, the traditional methods don’t support unique artists so an alternative route has to be taken!
  • DO NOT SIGN ANY LONG TERM DEALS WITH ANY MAJOR LABELS! I cannot express this enough! If you want to have control of your careers, it is imperative that you listen to this last point. Write it down, paste it to your bathroom mirror, or type it in your smartphone with a constant reminder alarm set! It is the same problem that we face today that has kept all of us in the dark. Now, that being said, go ahead and sign a deal with a major. Huh? Didn’t you just say not to sign with a major label? Yes… but not in the way as we know it. We live in the digital age where signing with labels is not the end game. It is just another step to climb in your musical careers. In my opinion, you can sign a 2-album deal with a label and leave it open for renegotiation when the deal expires. What we want to do is keep our identity and integrity in the business. By locking into a deal, you become stifled in how you want yourself presented. i.e. The Purple One After completing your legal obligations, you can go back to releasing your independent projects. If they don’t agree with your terms, it doesn’t matter. You were fine without them in the first place.


So that’s it. It’s to the point, short and yet it has the possibility we haven’t even begun to understand. Oh yeah, lastly, you best to TOUR! It doesn’t have to be mega huge venues. Do live shows where people can see you do your thing. It’s another selling point to familiarize your audience with you and your craft. Give them something unforgettable so you can remove any doubt when it comes time to purchase your work on-line. If you want to change how Hip-Hop is being presented, just follow the formula. It’s not hard to make a mark. Honestly, some of these points are pretty self-explanatory and have been used over the years but the difference is the tools of today’s technology. It has leveled the playing field amongst the big corporations that sadly limit the freedom of the music maker.


From one instance to the next, someone has carried out one step or another but he or she has always seemed to fall short of what the true potential could be. By combining all of these points along with a solid message to improve the music, we can connect the dots and build a network that can usher in a new age of Hip-Hop. One that can be even stronger and more influential than the last 20 years! Let’s do it. If you are that person that envisions this music to be even bigger than it is, come and join the efforts. You’re input and contribution is sorely needed. Welcome to a new day.



By Nova Phoenix