"Harry Styles’s new album 'Harry’s House' generated 62% of its first-week revenue from vinyl sales. Its vinyl sales generated more than three times its revenue from streaming, which accounted for just 18%. - Trapital's Dan Runcie starts his latest newsletter. "Vinyls shift puts more power in the hands of record labels, who have to determine inventory for each artist given the supply chain constraints. Will they treat vinyls like a hype-driven collectible item? Or will it be subject to the same industry patterns that hold certain genres back?".

Trapitals's Dan Runcie looks into the lockdown past and thinks about metaverse future in his latest post: "As exciting as the metaverse, NFTs, and web3 are, it heightens the desire for artists to be on every medium and platform possible. As entertainment becomes more and more fragmented, it takes more effort for artists to be everywhere, even the superstars... Two of the biggest opportunities for music in the metaverse are letting artists and fans create their own worlds, and getting more women artists and fans involved".

Trapital's Dan Runcie looks into the recent poor performance of Coi Leray's latest album, compared to his social media presence: "On most social media networks, it’s impossible to segment your followers into different categories. Are your fans there because they love your music? Or because they like you as a person? Or do they find your posts entertaining? Do they follow because they find you attractive? Or do they love the Shade Room-worthy posts you share and don’t want to miss the tea? For some artists, it’s all of those combined, but most of the time it’s not".

"Clearly, we need more tailored solutions for creators. The billions of dollars poured into the creator economy might suggest that the space is oversaturated, but that’s far from the truth. There are tons of burgeoning hobbyists who need help with marketing. For rising multi-hyphenates... the opportunities are there. But the tools are not keeping up" - Dan Runcie said in his call to the tech industry to offer creators technology they need.

A reminder to Dan Runcie's earlier essay: "Jay-Z, Rihanna, Kanye West are on the top shelf of rap’s new-money class. They became world-famous millionaires through the music industry, but realized they would have to sell more than music to become billionaires. The 'Run This Town' trio used music as the gateway, then capitalized on their influence at the height of their fame. Jay-Z made bank from selling Ace of Spades champagne and investing in startups. Rihanna built her Fenty empire into multiple brands. And Ye has sold so many Yeezys he’s probably lost count. The bottom line? Star power gets you in the door, but to maximize your platform, you need to sell something authentic that customers want to keep buying".

"On Royal, the new NFT marketplace, artists can share ownership of their music with fans by issuing NFTs as a limited digital asset. Those NFTs may eventually include invites to events, community access, VIP experiences, merch, and more" - Trapital's Dan Runcie looks into the new platform, and adds - "Royal’s best value-prop is the opportunity for artists to identify and serve their earliest fans".

Trapital's Dan Runcie looks into the latest trend in the music business - bands made up of animated apes: "Last week, the music industry made two big swings with non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Both Universal Music Group and Timbaland’s new company Ape-In Productions have each started new music groups comprised of cartoon ape characters from the Bored Ape Yacht Club digital art collective. UMG’s group is called KINGSHIP, and Timbaland’s group is TheZoo".

Trapital's Dan Runcie looks for reasons for the Astroworld Fest tragedy which left eight people dead, and many injured:

  • "More police officers and security guards were needed in the crowd and at the front of the stage
  • Crowds could have been grouped into areas to better manage spacing
  • Astroworld had two stages. One where eight artists performed in succession, and the other where Travis Scott performed at the end. Travis’ super fans posted up at his stage up to eight hours before his 8:45pm start time
  • The last set before Travis ended 45 minutes before Travis started, which created a huge rush of people
  • Astroworld failed to 'spread the field' by having multiple headliners at the same time"

Runcie also has a few predictions: "In the future, we’ll likely see better-positioned security, medical staff, and police officers, and more care put into logistics and spacing. That will translate to higher costs, higher insurance premiums for future events, and higher ticket prices for consumers".

Mobile payment service Cash App launched Cash App Studios, an initiative designed to help independent creatives, including artists, musicians, directors, and designers, fund their projects. Any artist working with Cash App will retain ownership of their work and won’t have to pay back the cash. It all sounds great, but there's a back side of this story, explained by Trapital's Dan Runcie who sees the initiative largely as a marketing play—an extension of Cash App's hip-hop influencer strategy—while taking note of the Tidal/JAY-Z connection, as Matty Karas points out.

You have been googled!
September 21, 2021

Dan Runcie: Why Genius sold for less money than it raised?

"Last week, Genius was sold for $80 million in a fire sale to MediaLab.AI, which is less than it raised! It's a disappointing exit for a company once valued near $1 billion, but it's a reminder of the importance of platform dependency" - Trapital's Dan Runcie looks back on the business model of the lyrics site, and gives reasons why it didn't work out.

"Folks like Diddy, Jay Z, and Master P are in their 50s, healthy, and wealthy. Music was their gateway to other businesses... Kendrick is rarely mentioned among hip-hop's highest earners. Forbes once wrote an article about how Kendrick is not a cash king!... For years, Kendrick looked past most business partnerships and stayed focused on music. His love for hip-hop is admirable, but it's hard to ignore trends of older artists who focused on business early on and are still living well" - Trapital's Dan Runcie writes about the announcement that Kendrick Lamar is leaving the TDE label after his new album is released.

Hip-Vuitton
August 17, 2021

Trapital: LVMH is now a hip-hop company

"Luxury world leader LVMH has acquired a stake in Virgil Abloh's Off-White LLC. It bought 50% of Jay-Z's Ace of Spades. A few months ago, Travis Scott collaborated with LVMH's Dior on its 2022 Men's collection. LVMH backed Fenty Beauty and launched the unsuccessful Fenty Maison. Beyonce and Jay Z were named brand ambassadors for Tiffany & Co. LVMH is a hip-hop company. LVMH may not position itself that way, but now it's too reliant on the culture not to be. European fashion houses looked down on the early 2000s hip-hop fashion brands like Enyce. Now hip-hop is the driving force behind European brands" - Trapital's Dan Runcie makes a relevant point about the European fashion powerhouse.

"Last week, Kanye West hosted a 'Donda' album listening party for 40,000+ fans at the Mercedez-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Kanye sold 40,000+ tickets for this event on three days' notice. Tickets were $20 or $50. He gave away around 5,000 seats, but still, he likely made at least $1 million from paid tickets. Plus merch sales. Plus the record-breaking Apple Music livestream. And all he did was press play and walk around the stadium. Only a handful of artists can pull this off" - Dan Runcie looks back at the release party of the album that wasn't released.

Songfinch is a music tech startup where fans can order personalized songs for $199. Users select the style of their song and share stories to shape the lyrics. Songfinch then matches users with an artist who writes and records the song for the user. Customers get a personal use license in perpetuity, but they can't monetize the song. Songfinch users can't choose specific artists and prices are fixed at $199. The platform has just had a $2 million seed round - investors included The Weeknd, XO Records CEO Sal Slaiby, and Atlantic Records CEO Craig Kallman. Trapital's Dan Runcie compares it to audio Cameo, and predicts where it might go from here.

The strategies of the Big Three record labels - Universal Music Group (UMG), Warner Music Group (WMG), and Sony Music Entertainment (SME) - dictate the future, even for companies outside of the major label system. They are investing billions of dollars to keep your attention for as long as possible. Their moves signal the best opportunities, and the areas getting slept on - Trapital's Dan Runcie goes behind the moves of the labels which hold 69% of the recorded music revenue.

Boomer rock acts such as Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Fleetwood Mac and Paul Simon have made the biggest splash selling their music catalogs for 9-figure sums. Synchtank explores the possibility of catalogs of hip-hop artists reaching those levels. Trapital's Dan Runcie believes hip-hop catalogs are indeed undervalued and that the "music that came out from the mid-90s to mid-2010s will be especially popular with the Gen X, millennials, and Gen Z. Some investors may undervalue hip-hop because they identify more with Paul Simon than Paul Wall. Another group of investors will recognize the opportunity".

"Three weeks ago everyone talked about J. Cole’s 'The Off-Season', but the moment has now passed even though the album and rollout were praised. The people who still have 'The Off-Season' in regular rotation are Cole’s day-ones and diehard fans" - Trapital goes into the longevity of today's music, adding - "some believe that this is a quality issue, but it’s less about quality, and more about control".

The number of artists making $25,000 on Twitch has grown 16x since the pandemic started. For those making $50,000 or more, the median viewership is 183 fans, which makes for $274 per fan - Twitch’s VP Head of Music, Tracy Chan, said on the Trapital podcast. He also talked about how artists make money on the platform, finding 100 True Fans, and the creator economy. Chan also worked at Spotify and YouTube to build their creator platforms.

Land of the vaccinated, the home of the gigs
May 18, 2021

Live music is back - in the US

New concerts are being added on a daily basis to the touring schedule in the US, mostly by American artists, thanks to the high vaccination rate. Trapital's Dan Runcie asks, rightfully so, "will you have the energy (and money) to still attend all their shows in the post-pandemic boom?". Live Nation's CEO Michael Rapino sits down with Recode’s Peter Kafka to talk about the industry’s comeback and how he’s figured out new tricks.

Early bird changed feathers
April 27, 2021

The history of H.E.R.: From child star to R'n'B Oscar winner

Gabi Wilson / H.E.R.

Trapital appreciates how H.E.R. went from a 9-year-old star to a 23-year-old Oscar winner, completely changing her identity on the way: "At nine she was on Nickelodeon’s 'School Gyrls'. When she was 10, she performed on The Today Show and covered Alicia Keys. At 12, she was a finalist on Disney’s Next Big Thing and performed at the BET Awards. She was first signed by Sony when she was 14. She released music under her real name Gabi Wilson. In 2016, she emerged under the new persona, 'H.E.R.'. There was no public connection to Gabi Wilson. H.E.R. added to the allure by wearing sunglasses at all times. This wasn’t like Puff Daddy or Christina Aguilera developing alter ego-type names. This was a brand new artist".

Streaming had the biggest impact on recorded music revenue growth last year - 62% came from streaming. Trapital emphasizes three few less discussed but interesting findings from IFPI reports. Vinyl sales grew 23.5% last year - vinyl are collectibles. It's a callback to a time when fans valued owning art. Synchronization - the use of music in media like games, TV, film, ads, podcasts, etc. - declined 9.4%, but that dip came from pandemic-related production delays. Now that vaccinations are up and production is back on, this will bounce back. South Korea's music revenue grew 44.8% last year. It's now the sixth-largest music market (behind the US, Japan, UK, Germany, and France). It's driven by K-Pop, which is driven by the world's biggest musical act of 2020, BTS.

Five things first
March 23, 2021

5 lessons from Lady Gaga's former manager

  1. Find your first 50 fans - “For us, it’s about, ‘How do we build an authentic audience and grow it very, very organically?’ It’s slow bake versus the microwave”
  2. Create inflection points - “It wasn’t one explosive thing that just happened. It was us planting seeds in every place”
  3. Form a personal board of directors - the key is finding people who aren’t intimately invested in your journey and can give rational, level-headed advice
  4. Remember that there is no shortcut to success - "whatever it is you do, you actually have to do the work. You can’t just talk about it. You can’t be philosophical about it. You have to get the physical work in”
  5. Use failure to propel yourself forward - “Failure breeds fear, and fear paralyzes people, which makes you go into a downward spiral. But how can you use that same exact energy to propel your forward?”

When Lady Gaga fired him, Troy Carter turned to Silicon Valley where he invested in Uber, Lyft, Dropbox, Warby Parker, Spotify, Gimlet, and Slack, Trapital reminds.

Rap from the crypto
February 23, 2021

NFT's potential in hip-hop - ahead of most genres

Trapital believes there is great potential for Non-fungible tokens in hip-hop: "The late MF DOOM had just held an auction for augmented reality NFTs for his signature masks. Soulja Boy recently minted his own NFT. Hip-Hop Legends NFT is also selling several collectibles on its marketplace". An NFT is a unique and not interchangeable digital asset that relies on blockchain technology, which makes it easier to verify authenticity. Cherie Hu said in Water & Music on NFTs that hip-hop is ahead of most genres.

"Hip-hop has always spoken out on police brutality. But more businesses have partnered with hip-hop in recent years. Those companies have felt the pressure to contribute to the same culture that’s making them rich. It’s one of many factors that accelerated the shift in response to this crisis" - Trapital argues about the power hip-hop has come to possess now. The two main reasons why hip-hop became the dominant culture, Trapital says -empowerment and social media.

An interesting and easily read article in the Trapital about partnership between Adidad and Beyonce. It goes back to the 2000s and Adidas' misfortunate start with Reebok, to their change of luck with Kanye West, which makes for a promising deal with Beyonce.

Run the world, how?
January 13, 2020

The hip-hop touring business looking for a new model

Nicki Minaj’s NICKIHNDRXX Tour was canceled in North America, Chance the Rapper’s Big Day Tour was canceled everywhere, and T-Pain’s 1UP DLC Tour canceled as well. Of the top 10 global tours of 2019, none of them were hip-hop. In 2018, just one (Beyonce and Jay-Z’s On The Run II). The industry needs to adapt.