It looks like MySpace is trying to now get its swagger back. In a Vimeo video that was recently released to the public, the owners of MySpace previewed a roll out of the newer, slicker format that has more of a focus on music and entertainment and not just social media. Many of us remember that at one point, MySpace was the go-to place for everything social media based, but was quickly taken over by Facebook in that respect. But now, this new and seemingly improved MySpace does look like it has some potential. But the main question is, with a bigger focus on music, as well as having to compete with sites like Facebook and Twitter being integrated into everything, as well as tools like Instagram and Pinterest gaining momentum everyday, where will MySpace fit in? Well, at least there seems to be some sort of plan. We’ll just have to see how this pans out. Take a look at the video and judge for yourself.
It was announced today that Lyor Cohen, executive in charge of recorded music at Warner Music Group for the past 8 years, is resigning effective September 30, in search of a new challenge. Anyone familiar with Cohen knows that he has quite a history in both Hip Hop and in the music industry. He came on with Def Jam after the rift between Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin grew too large to repair, is considered an architect in terms of building Def Jam into the musical powerhouse that it would eventually become.
Known for a brash and imposing personality, Cohen got a lot done as an executive at Warner. Recruited by Edgar Bronfman after he had some success at Universal Music and Island Def Jam, Cohen was brought on the restructure the recorded music division and bring it into the digital age by any means necessary, which he did. Funny thing is, out of all his accomplishments, one of the things he’s most known for in the last few years was the Lupe Fiasco album situation, in which he brought out a boombox to a crowd of Lupe supporters and protestors to play the infamous Lasers album. but being fair, he also oversaw some of the most successful music releases in the last few years by artists including by The Black Keys, Blake Shelton, Death Cab For Cutie, Bruno Mars, Cee Lo Green and Flo Rida.
So what does this mean for Warner and for Cohen? It’s hard to say at this point, but one of the things that he said in a statement to his employees and to Warner is that he plans to “work my entrepreneurial and partner with artists. That’s where my passion has always been.” Whatever area those muscles might be flexed, Cohen has built up more than enough clout and power in the industry to do pretty much whatever he wants. And more than likely, he’ll be pretty good at it.
As for Warner, I’m pretty sure they will be alright too. Cohen and many of the other executives he worked with have left the company in a good position, at least to continue building all kinds of music partnerships. But this is still a major shake up and it’ll definitely be difficult for Warner to try putting someone else in Cohen’s place.
Music has changed, all around, plain and simple. Ideals that were formerly thought of as standard and set in stone are now shaky at best in the eyes of many a music business professional and music consumer. And one of the people on the front lines of the changing music business model has been Jeff Price, the former CEO of TuneCore, the famous digital music distribution service that helped independent artists get on the shelves of many of the world’s top digital music services. Price, who also started TuneCore’s Global Publishing Administration and ran independent label spinART, recently contributed an article to Hypebot.com that gives a short history of the changes that have been happening to the music industry in the last 10-15 years. Price exudes an unparalleled confidence in his knowledge and experience in the music industry and does a masterful job of breaking down both where the industry has been and the direction it’s beginning to go in, as consumers and their tastes continue to drive the industry more and more. True, Price’s takes a very hard-lined stance against the major/mainstream music industry, but this is still a great and informative read that anyone interested in the business side of music would do well to read and learn from.
Welp, from the looks of it, one of the music industry’s indie darling success stories will soon be indie no more. Toronto R&B phenomenon and Drake-cosigned artist The Weeknd will be signing a deal with Universal Republic Records.
According to Vibe.com, the first official release for The Weeknd will be a project titled Trilogy, composed of his three hugely successful mixtapes (House of Balloons, Thursday, and Echos of Silence) with a reported three new tracks added on. That’s expected to hit stores on November 13. And The Weeknd (real name Abel Tesfaye) will also be on tour this fall beginning in just a few days on September 21.
So what does this really mean? Will The Weeknd’s creativity be compromised now that he’s with the big boys? Can we expect the same level of artistry and craftsmanship that we found on his mixtapes in his true major label debut? Sadly, we can’t predict the future. Better to just enjoy the music The Weeknd has already put out and congratulate him on his new-found success whilst we wait, so here ya go:
It’s that time once again…time for the Forbes magazine annual list of the 20 richest emcees/artists in the Hip Hop game. Topping the list this year is Dr. Dre with his staggeringly profitable venture with Jimmy Iovine, Beats by Dre, which have become a premiere status symbol for Hip Hop heads. celebrities, DJs and trend followers every where. Hisham Dahud, a Senior Analyst for Hypebot.com, recently completed a story on the Forbes list. Notable names include Dr. Dre at #1 with over $100 million in before-tax earnings. Diddy, Jay-Z, Kanye West and Lil Wayne round out the top 5 with $45 million, $38 million, $35 million and $27 million dollars earned respectively. Even Wale was named a “Cash Prince”, having raked in $5 million from concert tickets and album sales. And because of it, Forbes recently interviewed Wale:
Other emcees that made the list include Drake, Nicki Minaj, Birdman, Ludacris, Pitbull, Rick Ross, Young Jeezy, Mac Miller and Tech N9ne. This year’s top 20 list brought in a combined $415 million dollars in , which came in no small part from outside music ventures, personal branding and product endorsements. Read the Hisham Dahud’s bull story here.
To say at this point that Hip Hop has grown to be the most influential genre of music that we’ve ever seen, well…I don’t wanna oversell it, but it probably still would be a gross understatement. The fact is, in many different areas of life, Hip Hop has done what so many other forms of music just can’t do. It has marketed and sold products to the public, it has gathered people to the polls and had a hand in the outcome of political elections, it’s created tons of jobs for truckloads of people, and to some degree, has also infiltrated American pop culture without having to compromise all of itself.
To say that Jay-Z has become one of the most powerful figures in the mainstream music business, well…again, I don’t wanna oversell it, but that doesn’t quite do Hova justice. In all of his dealings in the past five years, Jay-Z has morphed into the pinnacle and the bar at which any aspiring music entrepreneur of any genre now compares themselves to. His music can more than likely be found in the iPod of President Barack Obama and in millions of others around the world alongside country, electronic dance music, folk indie rock and a whole lot more. And beyond music, Jay has proven himself to be one of the most savvy businessmen and branders in the world. To put it plainly, Jay Hova plays many roles and wears many hats, and does it successfully.
So it’s no surprise that Jay-Z would be the figure that would use Hip Hop to bring a festival like this past weekend’s “Made In America” Festival in Philadelphia to the forefront. Arguably, no other figure in Hip Hop has used the genre to greater effect than Jay, effectively and efficiently pushing the culture, the brand and the ideal of Hip Hop into spaces that were once thought ridiculous for it to go: from music publications like SPIN and Rolling Stone, to the corporate office of some of the biggest companies on the Fortune 500 list, to the cover of Forbes Magazine with Warren Buffet. And “Made In America” was a referendum on that idea. Because it can be considered more than just a music festival, but a testament to how powerful and influential Hip Hop and some of it’s biggest stars have become to all of music.
With a line-up that included Jay himself, Pearl Jam, Maybach Music Group, Run DMC, Santigold, Odd Future, Jill Scott, Rita Ora, The Hives, D’Angelo, Janelle Monae, a special appearance by G.O.O.D. Music and tons more diverse sets of music, “Made In America” was a true coming together of genres, fans, followers and artists. But beyond that, the festival showed that Hip Hop’s reach has extended in many different directions. When was the last time an artist of Jay-Z’s caliber would even think to try organizing something on the scale of a major music festival? True…we can also say that there have been very few Hip Hop artists of Jay-Z’s caliber throughout its history, and that we know Jay didn’t just do this out of the kindness of his heart (some kind of profit had to have been made by the man, or else, he probably wouldn’t have done it at all.)
Still, to this writer at least, Hip Hop was able to make somewhat of a statement of influence this past weekend. A statement of all-inclusiveness, togetherness, community and solidarity with all kinds of different music from many walks of life. After all, that’s where Hip Hop was at birth: a mash-up and mix-up of music from all walks of life, be it Punk Rock, Salsa, African drums, Funk, Doo Wop and Jazz, Hip Hop took from elements from all of these forms of music and created something new. And maybe that’s what Jay, at least on the surface, was trying to do with “Made In America” this past Labor Day weekend. Maybe that’s what he as an artist, as a businessman and an entrepreneur, actually wants for Hip Hop: to be that global musical force that can have a symbiotic and long-lasting relationship with the world around it.
In any event, “Made In America” seems like it was a resounding success. And all in all, that’s thanks to the power that Hip Hop continues to exert, in more positive ways than one.
By now, you have seen and heard the reports. You’ve read the transcripts. You’ve viewed the web pages and scrolled through the kind words of honor and condolences. I wish you would not have had to, but there’s no denying or getting around it: Chris Lighty, Bronx native, founder of successful Hip Hop and music management firm Violator Management, and Hip Hop business mastermind, took his own life last week.
It was indeed a sad day for many of us that have been supporters of Hip Hop for a while now. Danyel Smith, Lighty’s friend and former editor of Billboard and Vibe magazines, wrote a stirring and poignant piece on NPR about the man and his accomplishments. A piece on all that Chris Lighty did to bring Hip Hop from into not only the pop music mainstream, but into the boardrooms and corporate offices through strategic branding and marketing, was printed just 2 days ago in The New York Times. And the passing of Lighty has been covered and reported on pretty much any and everywhere you can think of in terms of reputable music magazines, blogs and websites.
But the fact is, even if you didn’t know him (which many of us cannot say that we did), you could tell that with Chris Lighty, it was more than just about the music and the business. Sure, he was savvy enough to act as the architect behind LL Cool J’s GAP deal in which the Queens MC subliminally name dropped F.U.B.U. in a national television ad. And he helped 50 Cent, at least temporarily, become the biggest and most branded name in Hip Hop with revolutionary endorsement deals, including the famous Glaceau/Vitamin Water deal that essentially made Fif a millionaire hundreds of times over. Even before those historic cross pollinations between Hip Hop and corporate America, Lighty was forging a path by working with artists like Mobb Deep, Busta Rhymes, N.O.R.E. A Tribe Called Quest (in earlier days), and coming up under the mentor ship of both Russell Simmons and Lyor Cohen. So it’s safe to say that the man had a plan to make not only himself relevant, but to make Hip Hop a powerful change agent and ambassador.
Chris Lighty wanted Hip Hop to be more than a genre of music that was getting paid for slapping the faces of its stars on brand name products. He wanted Hip Hop to be in control of those products and the brands they represented. Many have and will still say that it’s because of how he came up as a hustler in NYC that gave him his business acumen. But the truth is, it takes a whole lot more than that to run with the big boys and come out successful. And not only did Lighty gain his much-heralded business savvy and mind for deal making from his hustling days, but he also had a clear sense of focus, purpose, an unrivaled set of networking skills and continuous goals for himself, his business and for the genre of music he dedicated his life to.
There’s lots of speculation on how Lighty passed, as it was confirmed that he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. There are several reports of him having a ton of financial struggles this year, as well as a marriage that was on the rocks. But none of us can know truly what the man was going through, and we shouldn’t try to understand, because they were his personal battles to fight.
Instead, we should be thankful of everything that Chris Lighty did for Hip Hop. So many “purists” continue to believe that Hip Hop is not what it used to be, that it’s too obsessed with money, with pop stardom, with remaining relevant in a music world that is ever evolving. But one thing that was taught to us by Chris Lighty is this: you don’t have to compromise everything to be successful. And that’s still at the heart of Hip Hop to this day.
Rest in Peace and Power, Mr. Lighty, and thank you.
It looks like the Olympics isn’t the only huge thing going on in the United Kingdom these days. This recent story from Hypebot senior analyst Hisham Dahud is a great example of how the British are again at the forefront of the major music industry game. Take a read:
All-time sales of digital albums have crossed the 100 million mark, with the top 10 selling digital albums of all time selling more than 250,000 copies combined (led by Adele, Ed Sheeran and Lady Gaga). According to data from the Official Charts Company published by music industry trade body BPI, this 100 million milestone took just over six years to achieve, which is when official records of digital sales began in back April of 2006. It is also comes just two years after news broke of digital album sales surpassing the 50 million mark. Revenues from digital downloads and subscription services were beginning to overtake those seen from physical products in the first quarter of 2012, but now digital accounts for a 34% volume of the total albums market. However, overall albums sales in the UK saw a decrease of 13.8% during the first six months of 2012, with 43.6 million units sold from the 50.5 million units sold in the same period of 2011. Yet still, the weekly average for digital album sales is now at 500,000 downloads.
“Sales of digital albums are surging ahead as British consumers embrace the convenience, value and choice offered by online services,” said BPI Chief Executive Geoff Taylor. “As our athletes compete against the best in the world, British artists have taken the gold and silver positions in the best-selling digital artist albums of all time, and six places in the top ten. With big releases to come from Rita Ora, The Script, Elbow, and Stooshe, digital album sales should continue to grow strongly.”
Top 10 best-selling digital albums of all time (according to the Official Charts Company):
- 21 – Adele
- + – Ed Sheeran;
- The Fame – Lady Gaga
- Only By The Night – Kings of Leon
- Loud – Rihanna
- Lungs – Florence + the Machine
- Mylo Xyloto – Coldplay
- Sigh No More – Mumford & Sons
- The Defamation of Strickland Banks – Plan B
- Doo-Wops & Hooligans – Bruno Mars