Could This Be Hip-Hop's New Marketplace?

Full Disclosure: I have no financial interests with Wix

Anything that tries to shake the music industry by either lowering barriers to entry, or delivering a more equitable share of profit to the artist is appreciated in this tumultuous space. As we've learned, accomplishing either is trickier than just bringing big names and a big idea to the table--Jay Z, Beyonce, and Madonna's Tidal streaming service is evidence of that.

Tidal was declared dead, merely months after its launch. So much, in fact, Jay-Z forgot his part-owned music service even existed.

The idea of lowering barriers (both financially and technically) to market entry, while providing a more desirable royalty split, seems unreal. That's why Wix's new product launch, Wix Music is interesting. Certainly interesting to me because of the unique social media campaign around it, and because I've written about content management systems before.

The new platform launched with a larger-than-anticipated spokesman in Macklemore, who relates how he found his team's photographer via a Wix website years ago. Admittedly, I didn't think much of it at first: Wix and music?

So I did a little digging.

What I found is a bit of excitement from some new artists who might otherwise not have found such a platform to display and promote their work, and a vibrant, video-driven social media campaign reeling them in.

Peruse the #wixmusic hashtag, or take a stroll down the company's YouTube channel and it's all about user-generated content of the truest form: music. Artists are quickly building sites and submitting their work at the opportunity to become the virtual music video "opening act" for some of the biggest and most watched videos on YouTube.

Wix is essentially doing a YouTube takeover purchasing ad space for more than 100 million views for videos submitted through it's Opening Act website. Granted, this is a promotional gimmick by them, but it's a well intentioned one. Instead of buying up that ad space solely for themselves, the company is purchasing that pre-roll slot for their musicians. That's some pretty massive potential exposure that I'd bet most musicians are not typically going to get.

But music acts need revenue, and that's the toughest pain point. Though Wix can't change the economics or royalty splits on iTunes, Spotify, Tidal or GooglePlay, their platform does allow for digital uploads and sales from directly from you website commission free, which I think artists will find to be an appealing arrangement.

At an early glance, it appears hip-hop artists are embracing this brave new attempt to both simplify and monetize the production and distribution of their talent. "Wix has been a staple in our strides to expand reach to current and prospective supporters of our music movement, and creating a home base for our audience," explains Enon Gaines, of the group Unlikely Heroes, who recently completed a session with nomad studio, Jam in the Van.

I've found a handful of promising new black hip-hop and rap acts launched on the platform, many who sing its praise. "I always live by this, 'Designed by me. Powered by Wix. Created for you,'" exclaims recording artist Ava Hovanka

In the end, one artist sums up today's music industry in a single quote, "When my fans are happy, then my business partners are happy and that's a win-win situation for me," remarks Ricky Brown of NoClue.

Certainly, the music industry deserves a win.