Caffeine has become a thriving hub for live battle rap and the underground MCs who have become certified streaming stars.
The digital age has seemingly given new life to the underground rap space. From the 106 & Park freestyle Friday segments to viral rap battles online, it’s shaped how we discover a new talent.
Ask anyone familiar with the industry, and they’ll tell you Caffeine, which carries the Ultimate Rap League, has become the go-to destination for battle rap culture and its global community of hip-hop fans. Over the years, URL founder Troy “Smack” Mitchell has seen his business and battle rap as a whole grow alongside each other.
“The growth and evolution of the battle rap scene have been crazy, and we have been blessed to watch it evolve over the years,” URL Founder Troy “Smack” Mitchell told Boardroom.
The phenomenon isn’t lost on Caffeine either, as CEO Ben Keighran points out.
“Hip-Hop is the largest and most influential musical genre on earth,” he said. “As live streaming has enabled more and more live content and competitive formats to be watched by fans around the world, it’s only natural that Hip-Hop would make its mark on the space. Combine with the ongoing appetite from audiences for live sports, competitions, and competitive art forms of all types, it’s no surprise to see this competitive art form born out of the origins of Hip-Hop culture thrive in the era of live streaming.”
The culture behind battle rap has always been gritty and raw, which is why the scene has garnered such a hardcore fanbase. URL’s 2022 live events collected over 31 million views on the platform, generating millions of engagements from fans who tuned in to watch their favorite MCs battle.
The partnership between Caffeine and The Ultimate Rap League originated in 2020 as part of a deal that Drake initially spearheaded.
“We have journalists who exclusively cover us,” Mitchell said. “We have other ancillary businesses that help support the artists and other league owners who would not have had this pathway without the work we and a few others have done.”
Over the past 12 months, Battle Rap content on Caffeine has generated over eight million engagements from viewers within the platform and reached over one million followers.
“Caffeine’s close relationship with URL is a big win for fans who tune in to the URLTV channel on the platform by providing URL with the platform and tools necessary to make these events more accessible, discoverable, and interactive for audiences,” Keighran said.
As the platform has grown, so too has the ability for artists and creators to reach their niche audiences.
“In a world with abundant content, it can be challenging for fans of niche subcultures to find the events that matter most to them,” Keinghran said. “We are creating a hub where niche communities can watch, interact, and engage with the most significant events that drive their fandom.”
The partnership with URL gives these events a centralized home for distribution to Caffeine’s 27 million active users. It also empowers fans of the battle rap community to engage with the content via chat with the community and get in on the action by creating their live content.
“By adding more and more related content to the platform through partnerships and user-generated content,” Keighran said, “we’ve built a distribution platform that makes it easier for partners like URL and others to amplify their content to new and existing audiences while ensuring an authentic and immersive fan experience.”
“When we started our partnership with Caffeine, they were a new company, and we brought an urban demographic that most companies are pining to have access to,” Mitchell said. “We increased their subscription base by millions and provided consistent content for the site in a way that even the commercial artists they had dealt with could not do.”
Caffeine aims to be a hub for fans of niche communities across culture, music and sports where fans can watch, interact and create around the most prominent events within their fandom.
“In an era where attention spans are getting shorter and shorter, it’s important to be mindful of how we can continue to deliver a high-quality viewing experience that is engaging and entertaining for fans,” Keighran said.
The partnership has become a prominent role in the success of Caffeine and URL and showcased the importance of taking a platform to a global scale. “They showed the world that major corporations could work and make money with a sub-cultural phenomenon like our company and industry,” Mitchell said.
Tune in Saturday, June 10, 2023, at 3:00 PM PT on the URLTV channel on Caffeine to catch URL’s NOME Impact, the night of main events. Two of battle rap’s most hyped events, NOME and Double Impact join forces to bring one of this year’s most exciting events in Battle Rap as the biggest battle-rappers in the culture.
More Music & Tech:
Following the announcement of the In the Mix star’s Super Bowl Halftime star turn, Boardroom rolls through the best-selling Usher albums to date by RIAA certification. When discussing just what it means to be…
From digital footprint to merch to live event impact and beyond, let’s take a closer look at the economics of the two-time Super Bowl champ and the pop superstar….