via @EastBayExpress @Lefevbre_Sam:
Matt Werner is fluent in the parlance of shmop and viral marketing alike. On a recent afternoon, the 27-year-old sat in front of three desktop computers and tended to the sprawling social media tentacles of Thizzler on the Roof, a website that he started as a humble vanity project and has turned into the foremost source for Bay Area hip-hop. Nearby a coffee table showcased a smattering of mixtape CDs. "Oh yeah," Werner sighed. "People always leave those when they drop by."
That's nothing. Online, Thizzler is inundated with requests from aspirant rappers. Lots of hip-hop artists take to self-promotion like it's a sport, entreating anyone and everyone in a position of influence to listen to their work. For a prominent blog focused on the Bay Area — where a staggering number of rappers are ignored by most media outlets — the so-called "struggle rap" scenario is magnified.
"The Bay is like the fifth largest urban market in the country," Werner said. But with relatively little industry infrastructure, "a lot of people fall into the trap of being Baymous." At one point, that wasn't so bad. But rappers who used to peddle, say, 10,000 CDs independently out of trunks and Rasputin's would be lucky to move a fraction of that now. With the move to the almost exclusive digital economy for music, sources such as Thizzler have become increasingly crucial.
Werner's numbers confirm it. In 2013, he told the Express that Thizzler's YouTube channel was snaring 2.7 million views per month. Now, it's more than 5 million. Recently, the channel surpassed one hundred million views total. Werner moved from the eighth floor to the ninth in his building, expanded into two offices, and hired a couple full-time employees. Visibility brings hassles, too. After partnering with major labels to monetize content, the streaming platform Soundcloud began cracking down on the unlicensed mash-ups hosted by Thizzler and ultimately terminated its account.