The 2017 Grammy Awards were different. It was the first year they allowed streaming-only music to be nominated. That shift made it possible for Chance the Rapper to win.
And win he did.
The Chicago native’s mixtape called Coloring Book, which was released as a streaming-only album in May of 2016, killed it. Chance the Rapper was nominated for seven Grammys and took home three: best new artist, rap album, and rap performance.
Chance the Rapper is anti-label and chooses to not sell his music. “It’s not about the music being free. It’s about how it is displayed and made accessible and about artistic power,” explains Chance. “It was always about the artist-to-fan relationship.” Chance doesn’t want a man in a music office in L.A. to dictate his sound. He banks on making money through people connecting with his music and then buying his merchandise and attending his concerts. And they do. Last September, during Chance’s Magnificent Coloring Book Festival, he set an attendance record at Chicago’s U.S. Cellular Field with upwards of 47,000 in attendance, which is the first time the park sold every single seat.
You can’t buy streaming-only songs on iTunes or any other download for purchase site. You have to download an app like Spotify, Tidal, Apple Music, or Google Play in order to hear the music.
Remember when you had to buy the entire CD in order to get the one song you loved? Streaming music seems like it’s going in reverse because you can’t just listen to that one song you want. However, when I purchased the album I would often end up liking more of an artist's music. Be honest, you love the Blue Album, but most of those incredible Weezer tracks would have stayed buried if you’d just been able to download Buddy Holly.
In an era of instant gratification, there’s something to be said for slowing down and experiencing art they way the artist intended—even though the way Chance the Rapper has given his tunes to the world means you’ll be listening to his competition. Maybe it’s a lesson in giving.
If you’re ready to see somebody who changing music, book some tickets now.