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Dutch hip-hop sees streaming-powered domestic boom but export is still the nut to crack


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Our latest country profile (available to Music Ally subscribers) is now online and looks at the Netherlands. The country was ranked number 11 globally in 2018 by IFPI and streaming now makes up 51% of the recorded music market there. Its biggest album of last year was Hella Cash by Josylvio, a local rapper, which outsold Ed Sheeran’s Divide. Other domestic hip-hop heavy hitters in the country’s top 10 albums of 2018 were Lil Kleine, Broederliefde and Frenna.

Domestic hip-hop has been one of the key benefactors in the transition to streaming in the Netherlands. Warner Music Benelux president Martin Jessurun tells us that the relationship between streaming and the hip-hop scene is “symbiotic”.

“Hip-hop fans are heavy streamers and so they help drive tracks up the charts,” he says. “They’re intensely loyal to local artists who perform songs about issues they’re passionate about and can relate to.”

The challenge for this incredibly buoyant domestic scene is in how it translates (or doesn’t translate) into international sales. Dutch musical exports were worth €201m ($221.27m) in 2017, an increase of 0.26% over 2016, but this was dominated by electronic music acts who made up 75.6% of total sales abroad. Dutch-language hip-hop has clearly benefitted from streaming at home but, for now, is a far harder sell internationally.

“Our hip-hop stars tend to perform in Dutch, which drives support from local fans but makes it more challenging to travel,” says Jessurun. The trick, however, may lie in deft collaborations with international stars to take homegrown hip-hop acts into new markets. “We’re encouraging our artists to collaborate […] and look beyond the Netherlands to grow their presence internationally,” Jessurun reveals.

Eamonn Forde

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