If there is a modern example of how to cash in as an independent music artist while not selling a single physical album, Chancelor Jonathan Bennet is at the top of the list. All of his $33 million has come from either concert tours, streaming music, or personal endorsements of products. He may also be one of the best examples on how to make the most of the digital universe we now live in. His stage name is Chance the Rapper.
One “secret” to his success is that he approaches music from a wide variety of genres and talent, including Michael Jackson and Kanye West, while including the genres of jazz and gospel music. Rather than being stereotypes as just a rapper he has extended the availability of his music to several genres, increasing his Internet exposure and maximizing his profit potential. Add to this the fact that he is not connected to any record label because he has not signed a contract with any music company and it’s not hard to see how his net worth has reached it current value. Most of the money he keeps.
Now while it is natural to focus on sales and endorsement figures, Chancer has repeatedly said that putting a price on his music has really made him uncomfortable. You heard that right. He says that the goal of his music is to connect with people, so the money is a secondary issue. For those who have not heard, this is actually the way to go about life – find what you love to do and do it; the money will come later. There are 33 million reasons that can be given to believe this approach to work and life can become a reality.
At the same time, Chance is a smart businessman, knowing when to pick his spots and profit from his efforts. For example, he has more than 9 million listeners on Spotify. On average, Spotify pays between $0.006 and $0.0084 per stream. If 9 million members listened to one of his songs just once, he would take in between $55,000 and $75,000. If he has 10 songs then just add a zero to the totals – between $550,000 and $750,000. It’s not hard to see how just streaming from one site can advance his new worth quickly.
Apple Music wanted the exclusive streaming rights for his music for his album “Coloring Book” to the tune of $500,000 for the first few weeks of its release. He agreed to the terms, however, this decision delayed its release on SoundCloud, a decision which Chance came under a certain amount of criticism for. His practical, business-like response to the criticism was basically, when you have the chance to make a profit and not selling out (remember, the contract was only for a few weeks) then take advantage of the situation.
As far as Chance the Rapper’s concert tours go, he has managed to connect those with his sales of merchandise. Starting with the concert tour revenue, ticket sales of his 48 stop Be Encouraged Tour racked up least $500,000 for 2 day performances, and in many cities that total exceeded $750,000 for the same 2 days. Then there are the smaller tours where he goes to local colleges and sells locally themed merchandise, gaining followers and adding to his merchandise revenue total.
When it comes to endorsements, it sometimes is difficult to control the brand you are endorsing. While companies can drop you if your reputation falters, it is not an option for entertainers and celebrities who have contracts with the same companies. Chance limits the potential loss of revenue endorsements by endorsing himself. He does this in a number of ways. He is the club ambassador for the Major League Baseball’s Chicago White Sox. This may not generate direct revenue but almost assuredly gain followers and goodwill.
There is the #ThankUObama clothing line which was created to pay tribute to former president Barack Obama and his family. This is not as much political as it is a business connection, as his father worked for the former president when he was a senator and has a long history there. Then there are the more familiar corporate endorsements, such as Dockers, H&M’s 2016 Kenzo collection, and Nike’s “Unlimited Together” campaign that honored USA Basketball players.
Exact numbers for many of the endorsement deals are unknown, which is likely the way Chance wants it. His reputation in the music and entertainment industry has him being a relatively humble person who actively pursues social causes, one of his most recent being the Warmest Winter Initiative that was created to raise $100,000 for the purpose of providing homeless Chicagoans with coats to cope with the city’s harsh winters. He is also active in public education in the city, and founded the Social Works organization to instill a positive attitude among the youth of Chicago. Chance is one of the better examples of how a person’s net worth and earnings can be two very different numbers.