On May 11, the first French award ceremony entirely dedicated to rap and popular culture was held. The event, called Les Flammes, took place in Paris and was organized by two French media: Booska-P and Yard.
Will this first time have an impact on the rap market and its dedicated events?
The presence of rap music in award ceremonies
As the world’s largest music market, the United States offers a wide range of award ceremonies for artists, such as the American Music Awards, the Grammy Awards, and the Billboard Music Awards, to name a few. Also known as the biggest rap and hip-hop market in the world, it is obvious for the country to highlight urban artists through award ceremonies. However, there are very few ceremonies entirely dedicated to rap and urban music. The BET Hip Hop Awards and the Urban Music Awards are among the few, but they are a minority compared to the considerable number of American awards ceremonies, which are mostly generalist.
France has been the second biggest market for rap and hip-hop after the United States for decades, and has made this music genre the most popular in the country. In fact, for the last five years, rap and urban music are on average listened to 70% more than other musical genres. However, rap has always been absent or very poorly represented at the major French award ceremonies (NRJ Music Awards, Les Victoires de la Musique…).
In Europe, the same phenomenon can be noticed. There are many popular ceremonies that highlight general music, but rap and urban music unfortunately do not have specialized ceremonies. The tracks of these music genres are sometimes only highlighted through a single award category, or are left out. However, Europe has big rap markets: we can mention for example the United Kingdom or Germany, but these two countries do not transmit their proportion through events dedicated to rap.
The challenges of Les Flammes
For the first edition of a niche event, Les Flammes have amply fulfilled their mission to reach both a public of passionates but also professionals of the music industry. The great majority of the French media, traditional and specialized, relayed the event. At the same time, several international media reported on the highlights of the ceremony, thus testifying to its success in terms of press coverage.
The major problem for rap music at general music awards ceremonies was under-representation. This problem was solved with Les Flammes: rap in all its forms was honored, with a large panorama of artists from all the musical sub-genres. Between Caribbean music, R&B, or urban pop, the music of popular culture in its entirety was able to gain representation and inclusiveness.
One of the strengths of urban artists today is their fanbase, very often involved and ready to do anything to support their favorite artist. And this, Les Flammes understood it well. For this reason, the votes were composed of 50% by the public choice, and 50% by a jury of professionals in most of the award categories. As a result, artists with a large fanbase were able to win some nominations against other artists with more media coverage!
But Les Flammes did not escape the critics: an event that wanted to represent the popular culture without representing some communities, artists who would have deserved to be in the selections but who were not, an organization that could have been more focused on music and less on lifestyle… These controversies are obviously not specific to the event, since most of the ceremonies of the same type have already raised the debates. Every year, the same problems can be found at the American award ceremonies, like the BET Hip Hop Awards for example, where some artists have expressed their disagreement with the winners of some categories.
The interest of the ceremonies dedicated to rap
If we look at the different rankings, both global and local (for the big rap markets: USA, France…), we can see that rap artists almost monopolize the trends. For example, in France, the Spotify Top 50 can be composed of up to 80% of rappers depending on the period.
But this domination of the rankings is not only caused by the infatuation of a public of rap-lovers… We could notice these last years the emergence of a particular tendency to want to make the biggest figures from the first weeks of a release. If the marketing budgets of the artists are still unclear, we can nevertheless suspect that the promotional expenses of the latter could be higher in rap than in other music genres, less represented in France in particular. A big promotional budget for Spotify would explain in part the omnipresence of rap and urban music in the rankings. Spotify, a great playground for urban artists, has also supported Les Flammes ceremony, creating an official playlist with the tracks of the nominees.
But then, why create an event dedicated to rap? To celebrate one of the most listened genres in the world firstly. To fulfill a commercial interest as well: as an example, Les Flammes significantly boosted the number of streams of the artists present and nominated during the event. +242,5% on the streams of the track “Ce que tu m’as fait” by Monsieur Nov, or +117,73% on the streams of “Laptop” by Kalash and Maureen, these spectacular increases prove the impact that ceremonies of the same model can have. We see here a real opportunity of promotion for the artists. Finally, to have a media impact since, as said before, the media relays were numerous.
In conclusion, for this first edition, Les Flammes seems to have succeeded in making a mark, both locally and internationally. This new kind of specialized event for one single music genre could surely give ideas to other big rap markets to create their own version. In the same concept, will there be new award ceremonies dedicated to other music genres that are underrepresented at generalist ceremonies? Have Les Flammes inspired the big generalist music industry events to include a little more rap for their next events?
In any case, it’s a big step for rap in France and Europe, but also and above all a great victory for the event’s organizers: Booska-P and Yard. Les Flammes has enabled them to move up the media ladder thanks to the scope of the event. bringing together rap artists, professionals and listeners.
An annual event definitely not to be missed for the next years? To be continued…