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Journal of the Music & Entertainment Industry Educators Association

Volume 17, Number 1 (2017)

A "Chance" of Success: The Influence of Subcultural Capital on the Commercial Success of Chance The Rapper

Cassidy Best, Katie Braile, Emily Falvey, Samantha Ross, Julia Rotunno, and David Schreiber

Belmont University


This case study builds on Sarah Thornton’s (1996) theory of subcultural capital as well as Bourdieu’s theories of capital (1986) by providing a rich description of Chance the Rapper’s path to success. Findings demonstrate that his accumulation of subcultural capital within both the Christian and hip-hop subcultures, as well as his use of economic, cultural, social, and symbolic capital to build a following, were necessary for his commercial success. Using information derived from interviews, textual analyses, and streaming data, this study provides evidence affirming that his subcultural capital is directly related to four key factors: his employment of the free music model to release music, his independent artist identity, his musical style that transcends genres, and his authentic and consistent social media involvement. Finally, applications of the findings to the broader music community are offered, specifically addressing the implications of this study for independent artists.

Keywords: subcultural capital, recording industry, music industry, Chance the Rapper, free music model, independent music, independent artists, social media, case study

Best, Cassidy, Katie Braile, Emily Falvey, Samantha Ross, Julia Rotunno, and David Schreiber. “A ‘Chance’ of Success: The Influence of Subcultural Capital on the Commercial Success of Chance The Rapper.” Journal of the Music and Entertainment Industry Educators Association 17, no. 1 (2017): 31-58.  https://doi.org/10.25101/17.2.

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