Now I’ve never been the world’s biggest 50 Cent fan, so the reason for this post isn’t to tell everyone to cop Mr. Jackson’s new free mix-CD when it drops online next week. To be totally honest, the tracks that have leaked from it already ( “Paperchasers”, the Fat Joe dis “I’m Leaving” and the diabolical “Bottom Girl”) sound pretty weak to say the least.
But what’s interesting about the release of “Return Of The Body Snatchers” is that it might just signify the final nail in the coffin of the mainstream rap industry as we know it. Why? Well, let’s look at the bigger picture for a minute. The G-Unit general has been seriously stepping his internet game up recently with ThisIs50.Com and has openly voiced his dissatisfaction with Interscope’s handling of last year’s “Curtis” album. 50 has also been quoted in recent interviews as saying that due to declining sales he views his music as more of an advertisement for his other business ventures than a viable income generator. Plus, rumours suggest that the ever-savvy rapper has moved all of his employees off of the G-Unit Records payroll and they now ‘officially’ work for ThisIs50.Com, which effectively makes his label nothing more than an offshoot of his bigger online operation, rather than being the focal point for the G-Unit brand that it once was.
Even though it will be followed by a physical release a week later with a bonus DVD, the free online release of “Return Of The Body Snatchers” further indicates 50’s desire to move into the digital world and leave the traditional music industry business model behind him.
So the point I’m trying to make here is that, if a popular mainstream artist such as 50 Cent feels that being signed to a major powerhouse label can no longer offer him the promotion, sales and career stability it once did, then what hope has any other artist got?
With Curtis now appearing to be concentrating heavily on building the profile of ThisIs50.Com in terms of using it as both a launchpad for viral online promotion and an outlet for his music, what trickle down effect will that have on other artists who’ve been considering abandoning the slow-moving confines of a major label for the freedom of going digital with their own online venture? Who’ll be next? Kanye West? Timbaland? Dr. Dre? After all, there’s already been talk of Jay-Z being involved in the creation of an online-only record label.
There’s been much debate in recent times about how the music industry can combat declining sales, downloading etc. But perhaps the truth is that they actually can’t and 50’s recent business decisions are the moves of an artist who has accepted that realisation and is taking the matter into his own hands now instead of waiting for the industry ship to completely sink.
So when you download “Return Of The Body Snatchers” for free from 50’s site next week, you might just be participating in the Hip-Hop industry taking its next step towards a completely digital online music world.