Throughout 2020, the coronavirus pandemic and the collective responses to it had a profound effect on the music industry — especially independent artists, who often rely more on live shows than record sales for the majority of their income. However, one independent rapper said that his career flourished this year, boasting that it is “pandemic-proof” and that he has been getting his checks in the mail like clockwork despite the economic slowdown.
Russ, who released two projects this year and has been a vocal advocate for independent artistry, told Tidal’s B. Dot in a new interview, “I’m fortunate because I’ve set up my career to be pandemic proof.” He explained that rather than planning for a global breakdown of the live entertainment industry, he instead ensured that he owned the legal rights to all of his output, which guaranteed a bigger slice of the profit for himself. “It’s pandemic proof via mailbox money, you know, and via ownership and owning my masters and things like that,” he elaborated. “TuneCore checks didn’t stop. If anything, I’ve made more money on TuneCore this year than I did last year because I was able to record more, which means I was able to put out more, and I went fully independent.”
His output this year included the full-length project Shake The Snow Globe and its deluxe version, as well as the Chomp EP featuring Ab-Soul, Black Thought, Busta Rhymes, and more. His independent success allowed him to also give away $20,000 to his Twitter followers to boost their spirits during the summer lockdown.