With fans who are 'Proud2Pay,' rapper Nipsey Hussle is forging a new patron model by connecting directly with his most stalwart supporters.
Though digital pipelines continue to put downward pressure on the price of music, rapper Nipsey Hussle (aka Ermias Asghedom) has market evidence that his songs are worth a premium. Hussle's latest mixtape, "Crenshaw," stunned some skeptical observers on Oct. 15 when an initial pressing of 1,000 CDs priced at $100 each sold out in 24 hours. The tape was sold at a pop-up shop in Los Angeles, where Hussle appeared in person, and on the rapper's website-12 hours before a free, sanctioned, digital version made the rounds online.
While the pricey physical copies were numbered, autographed and included a ticket to a future performance by the 28-year-old rapper, "Crenshaw" billed itself as more than merely a boldly priced deluxe edition. Rather, Hussle called the tape the first step in a new patron model, where a few super-fans shoulder the burden that artists usually spread across as broad an audience as they can muster.
"As an artist, a lot of times you're asked to sacrifice the integrity of your art for commercial interests, because you want to try and sell as much as possible," Hussle says. "By marking the price up, we're expecting to sell a lot fewer units, but we know we're selling to people who are already super-engaged. We don't have to reinvent the wheel or think too much about what we do. We just have to make sure not to stray from the course that we're already on."