“This is for every indie artist,” said Chance the Rapper during his acceptance speech for Best Rap Album at Sunday’s 59th Annual Grammy Awards.
During Sunday’s 59th Annual Grammy Awards, Chance the Rapper won Best New Artist, Best Rap Album, and Best Rap Performance. The rapper now has a total of three Grammy Awards under his belt. The number of Grammys that Chance the Rapper now possesses actually outnumbers the amount of albums he’s sold. Chance has succeeded in winning three Grammys without selling a single album.
Chance’s music is free, and only available for online streaming. This was the first year that the Grammys made streaming-only albums available for award consideration. Prior to this year, only physical albums could be considered. Chance’s album Coloring Book is the first streaming-only album to not only be nominated, but to also win.
The rapper also isn’t signed to a label. He’s been approached by several big labels, but has declined all offers. In the history of the Grammys, Chance is the first independent artist to ever win the Best New Artist Award. While accepting the award for Best New Artist on Sunday, Chance said “I know that people think that independence means you do it by yourself, but independence means freedom.”
Chance the Rapper is setting a new precedent for independent artists. The rapper has shown the music industry that one doesn’t necessarily have to be signed to a big, fancy label in order to have success or be heard. Chance’s independence allows for creative freedom, which is something that artists may not always get to preserve while under record deals. Chance is demonstrating that it is feasible to preserve that creative freedom, without going down the traditional path of signing to a label.
An in interview with Vanity Fair, Chance noted that musicians don’t need to follow a traditional path in order to flourish: “I make money from touring and selling merchandise, and I honestly believe if you put effort into something and you execute properly, you don’t necessarily have to go through the traditional ways.”