This thesis examines the impact of local Do-It-Yourself (DIY) hip hop artists on the roles of intermediaries. Both hip hop music and independent music are now more popular than ever, while the major record labels – Universal, Sony and Warner – are losing some of their traditionally dominant power at the same time. To find the perceptions of contemporary DIY hip hop artists and their impact on the industry, nine in-depth interviews were performed with hip hop artists and experts. The results firstly show that the esthetic boundaries of hip hop music has been broadened since digitalization of the industry. In the past, the supply of physical music was rather closed due to the gatekeeping role of the majors, but streaming platforms have now empowered consumers by opening up the supply of music. The result is that the public started to accept hip hop music with lower (or cheaper) production quality, empowering DIY artists who reject involvement from corporate investors like major record labels based on personal values. The belief in independent success of hip hop artists is apparent, just like the DIY ethos strongly seems to be present in hip hop music. This identity of contemporary DIY hip hop artists can be a threat to the traditional power structures of the industry, because this type of artist believes that record labels are no longer required to be successful as an artist. Also, it seems like substituting intermediaries like managers, bookings agents and PR persons are becoming more available to local hip hop artists. This way, DIY artists can avoid large record labels but make (multiple) deals with those other, more service-specific intermediaries. Because of the increased availability of intermediaries, it is expected that artists will typically work with a higher amount of intermediaries than before. Findings suggest that the increase in relevancy of intermediaries will specifically be noticeable in the field of artist management. DIY hip hop artists can reject the involvement of record labels, but the complex music industry still asks for codified industry knowledge to be successful. Managers will therefore act as the bridge to the professional industry for local hip hop artists.

, , , ,
Dr. Erik Hitters
Media & Creative Industries
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication

Hermon Habteyesus. (2020, October 2). DIY Hip Hop & the Power Structures of the Music Industry. The Growing Impact of DIY Hip Hop. Media & Creative Industries. Retrieved from