When Chance the Rapper accepted his Best New Artist Grammy last night, he didn’t thank a record label. But in addition to thanking God, his parents, and Chicago, he did offer a shout-out to SoundCloud. That’s because Chance doesn’t have a label deal, nor did he sell any physical copies of his album Coloring Book, a historic first for the Grammys.
Instead, as Quartz explains, he makes his music available online, often for free, and focuses on making money from touring and merchandising. In that respect, he’s the opposite of Prince, who was famously anti-streaming (and whose music posthumously landed on streaming services yesterday). At the same time, Chance has turned down major label deals in favor of maintaining total control over his music. You can’t help but think that Prince, who was honored at the Grammys last night, would have appreciated that.