The $100 Dollar Mixtape


(from Billboard Magazine, October 26, 2013)  Nipsey Hussle (aka Ermias Asghedom) has market evidence that his songs are worth a premium, despite digital pipelines continuing to put downward pressure on the price of music. Hussle has a bold approach for his latest mixtape, Crenshaw, initially pressing 1,000 CDs priced at $100 per “deluxe edition” CD; each mixtape was numbered, autographed, and included a ticket to a future performance by the 28-year-old rapper. This mixtape is the first step in a new patron model as Hussle states, “As an artist, a lot of times you’re asked to sacrifice the integrity of your art for commercial interests, because you want to try and sell as much as possible.  By marking the price up, we’re expecting to sell a lot fewer units, but we know we’re selling to people who are already super-engaged…We just have to make sure to not stray from the course that we’re already on.”  Hussle calls this idea the “Proud2Pay” campaign, and he plans to apply this strategy to future album and product releases; this will include his debut full-length album, Victory Lap, expected later this year.

Although Crenshaw was initially only pressing 1,000 CDs, the greater than expected demand has forced All Money In (Hussle’s private company) to place an additional order; All Money In is run with his brother Samiel (aka Blacc Sam) and business partners Jorge Peniche, Adam Andeberhan, and Stephen “Fatts” Donelson. Hussle’s company is working with an undisclosed manufacturer to press the CDs and is distributing them through Samiel’s wholly online clothing retail business At a cost of 75 cents per unit, each sale of Crenshaw represents a gross profit margin of more than 99% before including recording costs. Peniche backs up the innovation that All Money In stands for by saying, “The value of music may have depreciated, but the fact that people were willing to pay $100 for this mixtape shows that there must be something they’re connecting with on more than a superficial level.”