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Hip hop fandom is driving the music business' future in gaming, live streaming and beyond

Cover image for Hip hop fandom is driving the music business' future in gaming, live streaming and beyond

Photo: Dom Hill

Photo of Kriss Thakrar
by Kriss Thakrar

The music industry is at a pivot point as new ways of interacting and monetising music arise with unprecedented speed. Kanye West’s Donda live stream generating $7 million in merch sales demonstrates the financial scalability of a unique live stream event that cannot be replicated in the on-demand era. Ariana Grande’s recent Fortnite concert provides yet another demonstration of the potential growth of the gaming opportunity, especially if it can beat Travis Scott’s $20 million in revenue from last year’s in-game concert. However, while it is easy to give technology the credit for driving growth, fans bring these opportunities to life. Specifically, hip hop's fans are enabling the next wave of innovation in the music industry.

Platforms win with hip hop fans

MIDiA’s consumer survey shows that platforms with the highest share of hip hop audiences are the most engaged in fandom-related behaviours. Platforms over-indexing for buying merch, paying for live streams and buying merch in live streams have the largest share of hip hop fans compared to their competitors. Fortnite’s audience is almost twice as likely to be hip hop fans than the average consumer - important when considering that hip hop audiences are also more likely to buy digital in-game items than any other genre. Hip hop is providing the foundation for a new era of music monetisation through fan bases that are open to engaging with new experiences.

Hip hop fuels cross entertainment fandom

What distinguishes hip hop from other genres is the abundance of superstars who take their ancillary activities as seriously as their music. Crossover engagement with fashion, sports, gaming and food enriches brands and engages those who are more likely to partake in fandom-related behaviours. As a result, a culture of cross entertainment fandom which is particularly prevalent in hip hop is enabling the success of new cross entertainment initiatives that will drive the future growth of the music industry.

Capitalising on cultures of fandom

Gaming and live streaming are bringing new ways to monetise audiences, with hip hop at the forefront. Alongside these technological innovations, understanding how to measure and monetise fandom is fundamental to the future growth of the industry. Hip hop’s cultural credentials are shaping the future of music engagement and the genre’s innovators are thriving in an age of digital-first fandom. The cultural significance of what comes next could ultimately supersede what came before.

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