Music Genres

Believe in Hip-Hop: Supporting Hip-Hop Artists to Level Up Across Europe & Asia

Published Jun 21, 2023

Hip-hop is a heavyweight genre across the globe, and as it celebrates its 50 years’ anniversary, Believe puts the spotlight on this genre at the forefront of digital music. 

According to the IFPI1, 26% of the world’s population, some 1.85 billion people, listen to rap and hip-hop, the most listened to genre in the US and the 6th most popular globally. It is the most played genre amongst the 12-35 year old demographic and Coleman Insights2 found that 48% of Apple Music users listen to hip-hop.

As such, a new generation of artists and labels across the genre is emerging, increasingly digital-savvy and in demand for a higher level of control over their careers and strategy. The relationship with their partners is one of trust and tailormade-services to fit their needs as their careers grow.  

In each of the 50 countries where Believe operates, and across all its offering - from TuneCore, all the way to Label & Artists Solutions and Artist Services - Believe’s core mission is to develop artists and labels in the digital world, by providing them with the solutions they need to grow their audience at each stage of their career. Hip-hop artists and labels are no exception, and the Group has proven to be their best partner to supercharge their growth across the globe, with world-class digital support and expertise. This is reflected in the Group’s range of dedicated hip-hop imprints globally, which include, in France, All Points Artist Services, Avant Garde Label & Artist Solutions and Morning Glory – a new hip-hop focused label partnership with DJ Bellek; Groove Attack Label & Artist Services in Germany; and bYOND Artist Services in Thailand. In addition to these imprints, Believe is serving rap artists and producers with dedicated teams and services, matched to the specialist digital expertise required by artists in the genre. Hip-hop is given the gravitas it deserves across Believe, as TuneCore announced American rapper Papoose as Head of Hip-Hop in March 2023, and marked the 50th anniversary of the genre with an event featuring the artist in New York.

Papoose said of his appointment, "I feel blessed and humbled to announce…I am the Head of hip-hop at the best, biggest distributor for all independent artists across the planet, TuneCore.”3 He also said, “I want to see others win."

In line with Papoose’s drive to see other artists succeed, following his appointment as TuneCore’s head of hip-hop, Believe is supporting hip-hop artists and labels to win around the world through its successful blueprint strategy: strong local presence to provide expertise, adapt solutions to local specificities and deliver top quality services to artists and labels at every stage of their development.  

This combination of local and expertise is very much evident when looking at Believe’s hip-hop success stories of the last 12 months. Looking at the French market, where it is a hugely dominant genre in the territory, second only to pop music4 urban music, including hip-hop and rap, accounted for the biggest share of the Top 200 albums in 2022. Believe is the long-term partner of Jul, the biggest-selling French rap artist of all time, who sold over 1m albums in 2022. Alongside Jul, French female hip-hop artist Nej also achieved runaway success across 2022, with her stream volumes multiplied by 5 in the space of a year, hitting 203m+ in total, following the success of her single Paro, which broke all records and was an international success with over 11m videos on TikTok. Having signed with Believe’s All Points for Artist Services in November 2022, she became the third most listened-to female artist in France.  

In the world’s 3rd largest music market, the UK, hip-hop made up 12.4% of the UK album market in 2022. The figure is its highest annual share to date and more than triple its share in 2015, according to Official Charts Company data. Believe UK has been serving dominant hip-hop artists, platforms and labels for over a decade with key clients being High Focus Records, Mixtape Madness, GRM Daily, Bl@ckbox, BLAH Records, Tim & Barry. Additionally, the sub genres in the UK that have evolved such as Grime, Drill, Alt Rap, UK Rap and Boom Bap have all been represented with popular artists via Believe’s UK team, such as K.KOKE, Ghetts, Capo Lee, Ocean Wisdom, Novelist, Fliptrix, Big Narstie, Fumez The Engineer, Akala, The Streets and Youngs Teflon to name a few. In 2022 the Artist Services team in London achieved chart success with London-based rapper Knucks 'Alpha Place' album, which entered the Official UK album charts at #3 and has amassed over 100 million streams in the last 12 months. Further success was also achieved with Leicester born rapper Sainte, with the album 'Vacation' in that year. 

Moving focus to the world’s 4th largest music market, Germany, where, through organic growth or strategic partnerships, Believe has also become the second largest player for hip-hop and is outperforming first major labels in this key territory. The Group has garnered its artist-focused digital expertise in high profile success stories in the market. In the 2022 year-end streaming chart, rapper RAF Camora was the most streamed artist in Germany. Having received three diamond awards, several gold and platinum awards, number one albums and singles as well as various industry recognitions including the Amadeus Award, he is considered one of the most successful rappers in the German-speaking world. Also making a huge impression on the German digital market in 2022 was Sehnsucht, by producers Miksu/Maccloud and rapper T-Low, the 2nd most streamed track on Spotify in the country last year. 
On its release in June 2023, RAF Camora's album "XV" took him to the top of the charts for the eighth time in his career. And as Frank Stratmann, founder of Groove Attack label and Strategy Director of Believe Germany, reminds us, “RAF Camora was became the most streamed german-speaking musician of all time with more than 4.5 billion streams”.

Beyond Europe, looking to Asia, Believe is the largest player in the digital market and independent sector in India, where hip-hop is a growing genre. In the Philippines, in late 2021, Believe agreed to a strategic partnership with VMAG, a first mover in mainstream local hip-hop. In the Thai music market, hip-hop is leading the way in terms of digital engagement and Believe aims to amplify Thai hip-hop talent through its blend of strength in digital music technology, expertise and core values, all contributing to driving artists to the top. Launched in September 2022, Believe’s Thai Artist Services imprint, bYOND is providing the most advanced marketing expertise on the market as well as cutting edge audience development strategies exclusively for hip-hop artists, leveraging innovations in technology, machine learning, in-depth digital marketing, and strong collaborative relationships with the top digital platforms to drive artists to deliver unmatched performance. Stunning examples of the success of this strategy are Thai artists Milli and Saran. The video for Milli’s track ​พักก่อน​ has generated 93 million views alone, with several others also enjoying millions of views. Milli became the first Thai solo artist to perform in her native language at the Coachella festival in 2022 and has achieved 2.93m audio streams across DSPs in Q4 of 2022. For Saran, one of the hottest names in the Thai hip-hop scene who has been enjoying growing popularity since he won Thailand’s most famous rap competition, The Rapper, in 2020, and is now the third most viewed YouTube artist in Thailand, Believe developed a campaign to maximise the potential of his 60 unreleased tracks. The campaign proved hugely successful with Saran's YouTube channel reaching 1.15m subscribers and 440m views. Across his social channels, Saran's Instagram and Facebook accounts reached 445k followers and 182k followers respectively. His combined streams reached an all-time high of 2.1m in total.

In Believe’s exclusive Face to Face interview, Saran says, “I think Byond has a big role to play in the hip-hop scene…You come help these kids market their songs so that more people get to know them…I think there is a lot that Byond can do for the Thai hip-hop industry.”  

From its home market of France, a veritable hothouse for hip-hop, where Believe celebrates the success of the nation’s most streamed artist, Jul, to its support of Thai artists like Milli, Believe is contributing to the success of hip-hop artists across Europe and Asia, and the continuing global influence and importance of hip-hop as a genre 50 years from its birth. 


1 IFPI: Engaging With Music Report 

2 Coleman Insights: Slicing Contemporary Music Tastes By Demographic

3 @papoose on Instagram Reels

4  Statista: Preferred Digital Audio By Genre in France in 2022