The above infographic was produced by Brandon Soderberg and Luke McCormick for Spin Magazine, with the goal of providing a visual guide of the increasingly complex hip hop industry landscape. While some of the labels are a tad on the corny side, I think it perfectly illuminates the magnitude and fragmentation of contemporary hip hop.
The artist placement is a bit perplexing, however. Aside from the stars, what makes one artist part of the industry and another in “The New Underground?” For instance, why are ASAP Rocky or El-P part of the industry while Das Racist and Big Krit are considered underground? An artist like Trae the Truth is essentially a regional artist who has a few big name friends. Does this make him part of the industry?
Based on what I see in this diagram, you basically have three categories in hip hop: Stars, Veterans, and Niche rappers. If each of the circles in this diagram represented a particular market, stars and veterans would each comprise a single circle and the rest would be the various niche markets present. There are many niches, and each offers opportunities to make consistent money. Non-stars should focus on solidifying and satisfying their niches before going for the gusto. Not everybody is going to be Jay-Z or even Wiz Khalifa, but there are efficient ways to make good money in the hip hop music industry.
Read more about this diagram here