I know this has been debated over and over but I think I will give it my spin on it because I find myself agreeing and disagreeing with both sides of the business or more 3 sides (Artist, Business and Consumer) of it. Since I have been in the game since it was around I give it my opinion and views. You may agree or not but at least it is here to venture into some different perspectives than from what I have been hearing in the past.
Let me start with the Record labels. The last several years they have been blaming the internet, downloads and piracy for their loss of money. However, I do not agree with about 80% of their arguements.
In the 90's when the business was booming, there were mixtapes from DJ Clue, Ron G, Kay Slay, Kid Capri, etc. We recorded "tapes", duplicated them, dubbed shit from the radio and so on. Of course technology makes shit a lot easier now but still there is a core principal behind why a lot of people download, bootleg and so on. 1. They think that the price is not worth the product. 2. It is out of their price range.
Also back in the day we used to wait months before a release came out but today, every single Tuesday about 30 new albums hit the shelves. Do you really think that I will buy 20 albums for $15 every week? Are you serious? In the 90's Master P started that shit, it worked because he was the first one and exploited it. However, record labels were like shit let's get paid and do it ALL the time. There is a big difference if there are 5 cd dropping on Tuesday but nothing else for about a month or two. I may spend a $100, but not every week, especially in this economy. Entertainment will usually take the main hit since it is a luxury.
Now, let's get to the quality of the product. Since the 90's artists gotten worse and worse. Labels no longer invested in their artists they want them to come fully developed with a fan base. I remember having a meeting with Def Jam in the early 2000 when I had a group they wanted to sign. The VP of A&R told me that they don't know how to get the artists of the ground anymore, they just have the engine and they can take a movement and make it bigger with their engine but as far as making it jump off from scratch they don't know anymore. Well, it was sad to hear for me and it must have been since Russell no longer had a hand in it, but Def Jam used to have the best and hardest artists on their label in addition that they were the major player in the birth of Hip Hop.
DMX, Red Man, Method Man, Foxy Brown, LL Cool J, Beastie Boys and so on. All those artists dominated the HIp Hop area in the 80's and 90's and they didn't come fully package, they were diamonds in the rough and became major players because you had people that knew what they were doing. Now they have a new department called "A&R Research" all these so called A&R's do is look at BDS, Mediabase, Soundscan and any other reports to see if there is anything new on the radar worth paying attention to. What that means is that they are looking for independent artists that take their own money and their own resources to go out and get it. Once they have shown that they have growth and stability that is when they want to "discover" the artists.
So with all this being said is that the labels over the years became so engulfed in their own greed but failed to realize that once the well is dry it is dry. When people don't get their monies worth, they will go to other means. Nobody buys a $15 album for 3 songs when you can get it on itunes for $0.99 or $1.29. Hell I don't even want to have to forward to the songs I like. That is why mixtapes became so popular because DJ's know what people liked and they put it all into one place. Of course you had a so many mutherfuckas that thought they are DJ's now, that they fucked up the game too.
Talent can't be replaced by technology! Period!
Now let's talk about these artists. The reason why I can't stand none of these artists today is because for one they don't pay dues, they want a shortcut and they don't have the passion for the craft itself more so the glitz and glamour that comes with it. So when you do shit for the wrong reasons is what happens what is going on today. Music was raw, hot and banging in the 90's because the artists lived their shit, they didn't care about the money first. They had passion for their music. People are more fascinated with Fame and they think the music is just a bridge to get them there but then they don't have any substance to close the deal. What happened to the Stanky Leg? Nobody talks about Young Joc anymore, where is that nigga that sung Cupid Shuffle? Is anybody still playing "The Franchise Boy - White Tee's?" -- You get my point.
However I still here Biggie, Pac and a lot of the old school rappers getting airplay, their records are being sample over and over. How many times has "The Message" been sampled and done over? Puffy did it, Ice Cube did it. I just heard Jazmine Sullivan use "Top Billin" then Nas used it. We may need to dedicate all the old school records that have been recycled due to lack of innovation.
When I got in the game, I didn't want to be famous. I had plenty opportunities to be famous but I chose to opt-out. I declined to sit in on Wendy Williams, Hot 97, ESPN, Fox, ABC, MTV, etc. I was asked to be on the shows but I was there for my company or my artists not for myself. I was there but I chose not to be on camera because this is not what I do. I got in the game because I loved the game, the music and the fame was just a by product. If I worked with an artist or record and I would see people go crazy over the record in the club that was my bonus and satisfaction.
I looked at the game like training for the NFL or for the Olympics. I would read anything on Russell Simmons, Kevin Liles, Sylvia Rhone, etc. all the major players. I wanted to know how they found their success, what they sacrificed and come up with my own formula. I was constantly looking for a new way of doing things which I was able to get Ruff Ryders, Aaliyah, The Roots, Jesse Powell, Mary J. Blige, and whole bunch of other artists poppin. I remember working at MCA and during my time along with my team we had about 5+ artists in the top 10 including Nonchalant "5 O'clock", All City and a bunch of others. We used to plan, hit the streets every single night with P.O.P. (I doubt if anybody knows what this means) and hit every night club, store such as clothing store, barber shop or anywhere where we believed was a saturation of people that would be interested in what we were promotiong at that time.