A recent conversation with one of Music Times' office neighbors got into the economics of releasing hip-hop music. The curious conversation partner asked why rappers were always releasing mixtapes, which were typically available for free and often featured rhymes better than what one hears on an official LP. The only answers we had was that rappers wanted to create buzz and perhaps they just enjoyed making music too much to take breaks. Nipsey Hussle seems to have found a profitable method of mixtape deployment however.
The Los Angeles rapper released his new tape, Crenshaw, for free via the internet on Wednesday, the typical method by which mixes reach listener's ears. However, he also made 1,000 CD copies of the album, which he put up for sale one day early in the Fairfax neighborhood of L.A.
The price? A cool $100.
If you're like us, $100 for a mixtape that'll be available for free the next day is ridiculous. But sure enough, folks came in droves to get one of the limited copies, helping Hussle to make a comfortable $100,000 in one night. Some criticized the rapper for allegedly taking advantage of his fans, but his Twitter logic was sound.
"This s--t is quality music," he tweeted. "It's 2013 we know u don't have to buy it. It's always by choice never by force. If it moves U. b #Proud2pay."
Hussle grasps the basic tenets of capitalism as laid out by Adam Smith: If a high demand is met with a limited supply, a high equilibrium price can be set. Okay, so technically there was an infinite supply thanks to the free downloads the next day, but we at Music Times can't judge. We keep buying the expensive vinyl version of Kanye's albums when a perfectly good download is available.