By Paul Porter
In the music industry what sounds like a great story is often just great fiction.
Indie, defined by Merriam Webster Dictionary: Indie is one that is independent; especially: an unaffiliated record or motion-picture production company.
For decades, indie artists have had little to no success at securing Top 40 or Rhythmic radio airplay. The secret marriage that co-exists between radio and the major labels, for decades has stifled independent artists. The case for Macklemore is no exception.
This article’s is to clear up misconceptions about Macklemore recent so called “independent” success: The single “Thrift Shop (Featuring Wanz)” has been certified platinum and viewed 82 million times on YouTube, the album The Heist, which debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard charts after selling 78,000 copies in October, has been accompanied by sold out tours and by all means is a great project.
The long Macklemore career growth and stragtegies are more than admirable. It’s what every artist strives to attain. But it’s almost impossible for anyone trying to get into the business especially when numerous outlets are reporting Macklemore’s “independent success.” Outsiders think it’s easy. But you do not have commercial success without spending major dollars. Period.There are a ton of articles written about Macklemore being independent.
“Thrift Shop” is seemingly a hit everywhere – except radio stations that specialize in rap, that is, writes Gary Trust for Billboard.
A Hip Hop record without Urban radio airplay? The truth is and will always be majors will always put money into the hands of radio programmers. The unique difference is the case of Macklemore is “Thrift Shop” went Pop not Urban. Payola, continues to be the music industries little secret. Without it Indie artists have no chance to rise up the charts to prominence. History is living proof and Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop” is no exception.
Only promotional dollars can give you access to a radio audience of over 200 million people like Macklemore has received. That’s the only way you sell 2.7 million singles and 312,000 albums. Being white in Hip Hop makes it easier than being black in Hip Hop, these days. There’s a reason why ADA, Alternative Distribution Alliance signed them up. A talented white Hip Hop artist is hard to find these days. Eminem, Mac Miller, Yelawolf and Machine Gun Kelly, are in a rare class of a watered down genre of commercially mainstream artists. White people love Hip Hop and are the bulk of the purchasers in the digital download era. Macklemore, is a sonically pure to the art form and a familiar face to white people who love Hip Hop.
So let’s put that Indie myth to rest for Macklemore. You can’t attain success like Macklemore, unless you’re part of the big machine. Radio’s gatekeepers would never allow it. To go Pop and be No. 1 on the Billboard Top 100, money has to change hands. It’s a great record, but do you wonder why less than 5 percent of Urban/Black radio is playing it. The machine says no.
According to the ADA about page, during 2009, Warner Music Group (WMG) enhanced its independent distribution business by combining Ryko Distribution with ADA to create an independent label service company that provides a suite of services including physical and digital global distribution, physical production, merchandise production and distribution. ADA started in 1993 to focus on independent music business.
Macklemore, has been around releasing mix-tapes since 2000. Add ADA and parent company Warner Music Group into the mix and that formula screams success. So lets put that “Indie” success story to rest permanently.
And remember don’t believe everything you read on the internet.
Listen to the NPR interview with RapRehab.com “The Real Story Of How Macklemore Got ‘Thrift Shop’ To No. 1 here
What are the other publications saying?
“Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. Indie rags-to-riches stories have become more common in the last few years, now that it takes just 20,000 or 30,000 album sales to hit the Top 10 rather than 10 times that much in, say, 2004. This week’s Cinderella is Seattle rapper Macklemore and his producer, Ryan Lewis, whose catchy The Heist album comes not from a major record label but from the Alternative Distribution Alliance”.
Source: Rolling Stone
“If you don’t know Macklemore, it’s about time you get familiar. The Seattle MC made huge headlines Wednesday (October 17) when he and DJ Ryan Lewis landed at #2 on the Billboard albums chart with their independent album, The Heist, which moved about 78,000 units.”
Source: MTV News
“Macklemore and Ryan Lewis continue to get recognized for their indie hustle. After going platinum two weeks ago, “Thrift Shop” currently sets at the No.1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100. The song surpassed Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out of Heaven.”
Source: XXL Magazine
How have so many journalist reported this wrong? You can look up ADA and see there part of Warner Music Group. You can see Macklemore’s record “Thrift Shop” clearly says ADA/Warner Bros. as their record label. It’s time to end the false stories on the Indie hustle and accept the fact that the radio game is still controlled by the cup shaped hands of major labels and corporate radio.
Disclaimer: This article by no means is to discredit Macklemore or their project. In a fair world every artist would get the same chance Independent or Major.