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The Economics of “Tip Drill”

The hip-hop industry’s origin can be traced back to the Bronx, New York in the 1970’s when the Sugar Hill Gang released their single “Rapper’s Delight.”  Since then, the industry has grown immensely with album sales in 2003 totaling 2.8 billion dollars, which represents one in every four CDs sold in that year.  As a matter of fact, the current estimated value of the hip-hop industry as a whole has reached an all time high at 10 billion dollars (Zahn, 2005).  Today, the hip-hop industry encompasses more than just music, as many of the artists have branched out into the business world.  Artists such as Jay-Z and P. Diddy have started their own record labels, production companies, clothing lines, restaurants, and exclusive nightclubs.  Needless to say, the pervasiveness of the hip-hop industry has caused it to become extremely influential in popular culture.

Music videos represent a popular media form that has the power to influence the mass media on many levels. When Michael Jackson made his videos for “Thriller” and “Beat It” in the early 1980’s, the music video industry expanded immensely. Artists were no longer satisfied with simple choreography and plain backdrops. A decade later, in the early 1990’s, music videos reached an all time high with Michael and Janet Jackson’s

7 million dollar expenditure for the production of “Scream.” Currently, the success of an album often depends on the dynamics and meanings conveyed through music videos.

Today it often seems as though music videos, especially in the hip-hop and rap genre, are used as a forum to exploit women. However, the artist and his/her record label view a music video in a different light; they see it as an investment that will ultimately lead to greater profit. In fact, much of the success of an album is contingent

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