Picture this. It's 1995 and you're an artist trying to get your music and career out to the world and your career off the ground. Everyone you know says you're immensely talented with the ability to craft songs that not only move the needle, but the crowd as well. In your mind, you have the skills to become the next big thing in music with the proper exposure and guidance.
Yet, the only thing stopping you is you're living in a city not named New York or Los Angeles -- and you just do not have access to outlets to share your music to the world. So the chance of you being discovered by a major record label or producer goes from seeming like an uphill battle with small but possble odds to mission impossible. This leaves you with only two options: go for broke (literally) and follow your dreams or tuck those delusions of stardom away -- and focus on more practical things -- like a job, school, etc. And while more than a few current legends chose to go through the muck and the mire while managing to emerge victorious, many talents opted to do the latter.
Subsequently, their music -- along with their names -- have become lost in history never to be heard from again. Luckily, twenty years later, that unfortunate circumstance isn't the case in music any more, especially in rap. As the years went by, technology has evolved and helped revolutionize the music industry, and not just for the worse (i.e. Napster). From the way we discover new talent to the classics we revisit time and time again, 2015 is vastly different from eras of the past. Record labels run by useless middlemen and lame radio programmers dictating who gets airtime no longer are the only ones you have to impress to become a star. Even your geographic location is less of a factor on the careers of aspiring artists from across the map. The Internet has helped homogenize music trends and styles. So, it's doesn't matter where you're from, it's still all about where you're at. The current landscape of music may come with its shortcomings, but the ends justify the means and like it or not, things will never be the same again. But what we can take solace is knowing that an unlimited amount of artists can now deliver music directly to the consumers. No longer do we have to wait for an artist's every move and song to get approved by the label.
Now everytime we sign online, we get the luxury of hearing songs that would be relegated to a demo in the past and the power to take those songs, share them, and help them become viral sensations, or better yet, actual hit songs that rule the radio on our terms.
One of the top outlets that help make all of this possible is SoundCloud -- the free music sharing service. Founded in August of 2007 by Swedish sound designer Alexander Ljung and Swedish artist Eric Wahlforss, Soundcloud has grown from an outlet to share music among friends to a full-blown operation that has made a seismic impact on the music industry. After reaching one million subscribers in May of 2010, that number ballooned to fifteen million in a two-year span, an indicator of the website's growing popularity among artists and music consumers alike. That appeal has caught the attention of major recording companies like Warner Music, who struck a deal with SoundCloud as part of its "Premier Partners" program, which allows both Warner Music and its publishing division to collect royalties for songs they have chosen to monetize on the site.
While other record labels aren't as gung-ho about that particular business model, that hasn't stopped SoundCloud from flourishing, as evidenced by claims that 175 million unique listeners used the site each month in 2015. It's now estimated about 12 hours worth of audio were being uploaded every minute on Soundcloud in th past year.
The upside of the service is a major one for indie artists, as it gives them numerous options on how they can share their music, as well as full-reign over how they interact and engage with their fanbase. In the past few years, SoundCloud has proved to be a breeding ground for superstar talent, with artists like Lorde -- who broke through after uploading her 2013 EP, The Love Club, to the site. Thousands of unknown artists have also sercured recording contracts and endorsement after having massive success as a result of utilizing SoundCloud.
While all genres of music have been altered by the advent of SoundCloud, it's impact on hip-hop and R&B can simply not be denied. In a genre that embraces independence and DIY ethos, SoundCloud serves as a great tool for emerging artists to get their weight up without the help of the majors. This was especially true in 2015, when a bevy of artists took the site by storm and made it their ticket to the big time by accumulating eye-popping totals in streams and servicing their fans with a consistent flow of new songs that the culture as a whole grew to love throughout the year. Also, established artists continued to use the platform as the quickest way to get their latest work to the listeners.
Taking note of this, we highlighted fifteen artists that have used SoundCloud to advance their career, in one way or another. From superstars to brand new talent, these artists were the standard when it came to building a buzz on SoundCloud in 2015.