From 2000 to 2010, America’s music industry’s annual revenue went from $4 billion to $2 billion. Much of this is attributed to the internet’s ability to provide consumers with easy access to free music, and hip hop has been especially impacted by this trend.

Utilizing document analysis and personal interviews, this study found that the success of independent artists has influenced the business strategies of major record companies. In response to a dramatic decrease in record sales, major labels have made more of an effort to sign their artists to 360 deals, which allow the labels to profit from every aspect of an artist’s brand or identity.

While some independent artists are the main beneficiary of the profits generated from their music and personal brand, they also reify the commodity-form capitalist system by attempting to turn their music and brand into a fetishized commodity and by turning their audience into a fetishized commodity.