How a Tech-Savvy Chamillionaire Got Leverage With UMG

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The era of the entrepreneurial artist is upon us, but rappers have traditionally been quite business-savvy.

“I consider myself a businessman,” Chamillionaire recently told TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington at CrunchUp in Palo Alto.  But Chamillionaire is also quite tech-savvy, and the ensuring discussion revealed that the rapper had just been attending AlwaysOn.  “I come to the tech conferences to see what’s next,” the rapper revealed to audience applause.

That is all part of a far broader grassroots business and technology approach that started in 1998.  Years later (“around 04-05”), Chamillionaire arrived at Universal Music Group with an army of certified fans, including a massive email list.  “When I came into a major label I had leverage,” the rapper shared, a position that allowed him to structure a 50/50 profit-sharing arrangement with UMG.  “Most [other] artists make pennies on the dollar.”

Back in the day, Chamillionaire, was spinning songs on his website using Shoutcast technology.  “At that time, it was really creative,” and, first-moving, and the rapper also used the site to promote other Texas artists like Slim Thug.

Chamillionaire also offered a huge plug for Ustream.  “We actually built up a big audience for a live stream, and I told them ‘this is the record I have, I need everybody to support it, and they did’,” Chamillionaire relayed.  The stream was less of a performance and more of a chat-session with fans, and the effort was complemented by an aggressive Twitter campaign (@chamillionaire).  “I told them the story of how I met Michael Jordan and he dissed me,” Chamillionaire joked.  The resulting single, “Good Morning,” shot to number 1 on the iTunes Hip-Hop charts the same day.