Success in music comes in all shapes and sizes, but for Maryland-based rapper and producer JPEGMAFIA, it is defined by one thing above all: paying the bills.
"My only goal in music is to be financially stable from music. I want to be able to pay my bills and come home and be like, 'Bills paid. Time to go to Disney Land,' or some shit like that," the 28-year-old told Mass Appeal. "I want that to be my job. That is my goal. And thankfully, that's starting to happen. I'm very happy right now. That's been my number one goal from the get-go."
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For every rapper who believes hip-hop is a path to get rich quick, there are nine more who simply desire the luxury of waking up every morning and doing what they love for a living, without having to work a regular 9 to 5 to both feed their face and support their passion.
Over the past three years, on-demand streaming has forged a new revenue stream for the recording industry, which, according to some estimates, could exceed $40 billion by 2030. But even with the influx of new money, many artists like JPEGMAFIA won't be able to survive (read: live above the poverty line) off streaming royalties alone.
Following Spotify's IPO filing in February, the company revealed that it’s paid $9.8 billion in royalties to artists, labels, and publishers since its April 2006 launch. As The Ringer noted, however, even if the company paid out all $9.8 billion in 2017, spread evenly across one million artists whose music is available on their platform, it would only amount to $9,800 per artist. For fun, let's say Spotify's chief rival, Apple Music, offered artists an identical pie-in-the-sky deal. In that scenario, individual annual music income would still fall below $20,000, total. For some perspective, most retail salespeople earn a higher annual salary.
Our needs and goals constantly change as we grow up. When we achieve a goal, we set a new one. This pattern repeats throughout life. The same can be said for aspiring artists. Next year, JPEGMAFIA might want to buy a home for himself or a close family member. But for now, the United States military force veteran and rising star will settle for health insurance and electricity. Levels.