April 14, 2024

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Hip-hop and advertising—how the music transformed culture and marketing

2 min read

“Album sales weren’t like they used to be, therefore, marketing budgets were dwindling,” said Duncan, speaking about her time at Capitol Music Group in 2006. “I remember pulling my senior leadership team together, and I said, ‘We have to change the way we market these artists. They’re beginning to see themselves as brands. So we need to bring in partners on each album campaign to supplement our dwindling marketing budget so that we can still do the music videos and all the awesome promotion that these artists, especially the legacy artists, were used to.’”

Multiple executives who spoke to Ad Age for this story said it’s hard to quantify how much revenue hip-hop has generated for advertising. Currently, hip-hop and R&B have 25.92% of the music industry’s market share, making it the leading genre. 

Part of the marketing suite

Today, hip-hop artists aren’t just representing marketers, they are a part of them. Rapper 2 Chainz was named the head of creative marketing for fast food chain Krystal in 2022 and in 2021, Cardi B was named a creative director for Playboy. R&B and hip-hop artists Brent Faiyaz, Swizz Beatz and Pharrell Williams have started their own agencies over the past couple of years. Earlier this year, Williams was named men’s creative director for Louis Vuitton.

Brand endorsements have also become more lucrative for artists over the years, thanks to deals like when 50 Cent reportedly made $100 million from his investment in Vitaminwater, which, aided by his endorsement, grew into a multi-billion dollar company that sold to Coca-Cola. Following that model, rapper Flo Rida was recently awarded $82.6 million after he filed a lawsuit regarding compensation for his endorsement deal with energy drink company Celsius.

More news: Jake Paul endorses Celsius

What’s changed, said Carr, is that there is now a push to have hip-hop artists endemically involved in brands, such as McDonald’s collaboration with Travis Scott to promote custom meals. That deal netted the “Astroworld” rapper an estimated $20 million or more, according to Forbes.

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