Chance the Rapper made history at the 2017 Grammy Awards, winning Best New Artist, Best Rap Performance for "No Problem," and perhaps most importantly, Best Rap Album for Coloring Book.
Coloring Book is a streaming-only album, and was not released physically nor sold digitally. As such, it is now the first streaming-only album to win a Grammy Award, beating The Life of Pablo by Kanye West, Views by Drake, And The Anonymous Nobody by De La Soul, Blank Face by Schoolboy Q, and Major Key by DJ Khaled.
Chance The Rapper Sends Shoutout To Soundcloud
In his acceptance speech for Best Rap Album, Chance the Rapper dedicated the award to all independent artists, providing inspiration to those who are still pursuing their dreams even without being signed to a label.
"Shouts out to Soundcloud for holding me down!" Chance the Rapper added, showing his appreciation to the music-sharing platform.
Chance the Rapper depends on his SoundCloud account and word-of-mouth to get his music out, allowing his fans to stream and download his music for free. Several record labels have offered him deals, but he has turned down all of them.
SoundCloud is a popular distribution channel for new and independent artists, and Chance the Rapper is likely the most popular artist on the platform. He has over 1 million followers on SoundCloud, and has uploaded over 70 tracks to the service.
Coloring Book was released last year as an exclusive for Apple Music, famously making its debut in the Top 10 of the Billboard Top Album Chart despite being limited to Apple's music streaming service. It has since been released on SoundCloud, where fans can access and enjoy all the tracks of the album along with all of the rapper's other tracks, including his first-ever mixtape 10 Day.
Grammy Rules Changed For Streaming-Only Albums
The rules for the Grammy Awards initially disqualified any work that can only be accessed through streaming. However, a petition forced the Recording Academy to change its rules in about a month after the release of Coloring Book, allowing the album to receive a nomination, and eventually take home, the Best Rap Album award.
The success that Chance the Rapper has found with his streaming-only albums will hopefully inspire more artists to go the same route of releasing high-quality music that fans from all over the world can enjoy, despite being unsigned to a record deal.
Good News For SoundCloud
The appreciation given by Chance the Rapper to SoundCloud is welcome news for the music-sharing platform, which saw its proposed acquisition by Spotify fall through.
After reportedly putting itself up for sale last July for $1 billion, a September report revealed that SoundCloud was in advanced talks with Spotify for an acquisition that would shake up the music streaming industry. However, last December, Spotify decided to withdraw from negotiations to acquire SoundCloud, primarily due to the former's plans of going public. The "licensing headache" that the acquisition would have placed upon Spotify, if it pushed through, would further complicate matters for the company in what is being considered its IPO year.