Mar 31, 2023 - Economy

Timbaland: Hip-hop is "whole" industry right now

Grammy-winning artist Timbaland with Hope at this week's Axios What’s Next Summit. Photo: Ron Flores for Axios

Fans and the music industry are celebrating hip-hop’s golden anniversary this year.

Why it matters: Since its official birth on Aug. 11, 1973, the genre’s influence has stretched beyond the medium of sound and the borders of the U.S., let alone the Bronx where one party started it all.

Driving the news: Amazon Music this week released a slew of programming to celebrate the milestone, ranging from original content and playlists to livestreams and events.

  • iHeartMedia and Warner Music Group have yearlong tributes planned, while the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York has an exhibition of hip-hop fashion.
  • The Grammys last month produced a well-received retrospective medley, and networks such as Showtime have had multiyear commemoration campaigns.

What they’re saying: “Hip-hop is the whole music industry right now. … Hip-hop influenced the whole world,” Grammy-winning artist Timbaland told me earlier this week at our What’s Next Summit.

  • That includes brands that previously shunned the genre, now clamoring to work with hip-hop artists.

By the numbers: Measuring the total economic impact of hip-hop may be tricky, but if it were the whole music industry, it would be worth nearly $16 billion in the U.S.

  • Recorded music revenues grew 6% in 2022 to a record high of $15.9 billion, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.
  • The vast majority of that came from streaming — 84% — and driving those streams the past year has been Puerto Rican rapper Bad Bunny.
Data: RIAA; Note: Synchronization royalties includes fees and royalties from synchronization of recordings with other media; Chart: Axios Visuals

The big picture: Artists and producers have been able to transform their influence into personal empires — just look at Jay-Z, hip-hop's first billionaire, now estimated to be worth $2.5 billion, according to Forbes' latest estimate.

  • Timbaland has also recently pivoted into entrepreneurship with Beatclub, a digital platform that connects songwriters to brands, music licensing teams, and record label scouts and managers. Or as he describes it, "the Amazon of beats."

The bottom line: "Hip-hop from the beginning has always been aspirational," Jay-Z told Forbes over a decade ago. "It always broke that notion that an artist can’t think about money as well.”

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