It is a known fact that white people have economically benefited from black music. However, it dates back further than people know.

In the late 1800s, Black music did not have value to white people. White people did not care to listen to black artists. The only reason they paid anything to them was because they wanted to steal or remake their music.Even that they would pay them next to nothing and then make a ton off of the music. For example, Scott Joplin, a popular Ragtime artist, sold his sheet music to white people. He did not get to make much and often financially struggled. He eventually became a lawyer to try to protect himself from getting ripped off.  

Chess Records co-founder Phil Chess, left, R&B singer Etta James and record producer Ralph Bass at Chess Records Studios in 1960 in Chicago.

 

Chess Records co-founder Phil Chess, left, R&B singer Etta James and record producer Ralph Bass at Chess Records Studios in 1960 in Chicago. 
(Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Fast forward to the 50s. Jazz is popular. White people do not want to listen to black jazz artists. So, black jazz artists aren’t making that much money. White jazz artists watching black jazz artists are starting to mimic their styles and perform the same songs and make money doing so. Given that white people are only going to watch white people, it doesn’t matter if a black jazz artist and a white jazz artist are playing the same song because the money is going into the white person’s pocket. In the 60s, it’s the civil rights era. Black artists are allowed to perform for white people, but of course they cannot sit with them. However, that exposure allowed black artists to become more popular. Black music was playing on the radio, talk shows, bars, and etc..

Now that white people are listening to black people, white people want to sign black people. White people have noticed black popularity and how well their careers were going and noticed that they could make a lot of money off of that. So, they did so. And still do today.

This is still a common occurrence today. A lot of these big record labels that these African- American rappers, hip hop artists, and r&b singers are signed to record labels that are created by white men or owned by white people. That is not inherently a bad thing. The problem is a lot of these white people do not even listen to this music and for a long time black music was frowned on by them. However, as it became popularized, white people noticed that they could make money off of it. So, in actuality they are making money off the success of these black artists just because they can. The biggest problem is that most of the time these people are making more than the artist.