‘No Fear of an MP3 Planet,’ Salon

Hiphop group Hieroglyphics has used its Website not only as a community, but as a place to distribute its music after being dropped by its record label.

JUNE 1, 1999


As Public Enemy embraces new music technology and takes on the recording industry, it’s also helping smash the Web’s lily-white image.

[Excerpt from Page 2.]

“The industry doesn’t really understand rap music as a whole; they understand it in terms of marketing but they don’t respect is as a culture. And in hip hop, the culture is very, very important,” explains [Felicia] Palmer [of SOHH.Com]. “The industry is really interested in the emceeing and the rap artist because that’s what makes them money. On the Web, adversely, you have the culture component,” including all four of the hip-hop “elements.”

No Fear of an MP3 Planet
No Fear of an MP3 Planet

But it’s not all about culture; it can be about making money too — but money that flows into artists’ pockets rather than labels’ coffers. The popular group Hieroglyphics, for example, has used its Web site not only as a community area for fans, but as a place to distribute its music after being dropped by its record label. The Hieroglyphics’ new album, released last year, was self-produced entirely from the money the group made selling tapes of unreleased material on its Web site — a practice which is becoming increasingly popular with hip-hop artists. And the new album — sold primarily through online music stores — has turned a respectable profit.

“I believe the Net is hip hop’s fifth element — it combines the other four and allows the musicians to control everything from marketing to distribution to fan relations,” says Hieroglyphics webmaster Yameen Freidberg, aka Stinke. “The Net is putting the control back into the artists’ hands; whereas before you had to go through the label and it was all about politics and money and someone who doesn’t understand the music being in control.”

Excerpt reproduced on for educational purposes.

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