Label-less Grammy

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"Thrift Shop" screenshot of Mackelmore

“Thrift Shop” screenshot of Macklemore

A couple of dudes collaborate to independently release some music and their song ends up owning the industry.

When Macklemore and Ryan Lewis released their single Thrift Shop, it’s doubtful they expected it would become number one on the US Billboard Hot 100. The last time a song reached number one without the support of a label was in 1994: Lisa Loeb’s Stay (I Missed You).

When their second song, Can’t Hold Us, made number one, they became the first duo with two singles to top the chart.

“Labels can’t give me nothing, but give it to the people.”

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ story is for those who have been chasing dreams since they were 14. Their first music was independently published: a mixtape, three extended plays, and two albums.

Social media and video-sharing websites spread the R&B/Hip Hop artists to stardom. In 2013, they received the YouTube Breakthrough award at the inaugural YouTube Music Awards. They were nominated for seven 2014 Grammy Awards and took home four: Best New Artist, Best Rap Album (The Heist), Best Rap Song, and Best Rap Performance (Thrift Shop).

But aside from heisting the Grammys, it was their performance at that event that became as much of the talk of the town than knocking over established artists for three of the category wins.

Mary Lambert, Madonna, Queen Latifah, and Trombone Shorty joined pipes to make a night memorable for 33 couples, including some who were same-sex and mixed races. They were actually wed on air, and during the song, the couples exchanged rings. The climax of the performance was the emergence of Madonna to round out the act with her hit song: Open Your Heart.

An interview the following day on CNN confirmed the weddings were for real. Yawar Charlie and Jason Miller moved up their wedding date in order to participate. They were under strict confidentiality agreements, which added an interesting element to their nuptials.

This celebration of equality and tolerance is one example of how great an impact the musician’s stage can be. The fact this duo garnered their success independently offers incentive for others to see that one can make their own break and create a huge splash in the process.

View the 2014 Grammy performance here:

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Mary Lambert & Madonna performing at The Grammy’s 2014 ‘Same Love’




Content Curator Debbie Elicksen

Social Media, transmedia, media liaison. Experience in working with high profile celebrities, communications (writing and editing for print, web, and radio), project management, marketing and communications strategy, public relations, content creation, publishing, both sides of media relations.

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