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The Changing Tides

Music is a billion dollar business. This is a well-known fact. At one time, let’s say between 1997 and 2002, Hip Hop basically took over the world. It began to permeate all aspects of pop culture, from clothing to movies to TV and politics. Being from the Caribbean, it’s clear that this was felt and seen everywhere, not just in the US. With the success of artists like Jay-Z, The Fugees, Biggie Smallz, 50 Cent, DMX, and Eminem, the major labels began to seriously catch on.

With the heavy commercial attention given to Hip Hop, artists began to make compromises. While heads used to enjoy their favorite MCs’ bassy, ​​rough street bangers on BET’s Rap City, now they’re ready for dance-ready pop hybrids. Apparently, the publishers came up with a formula and imposed that doctrine on artists’ creative processes. However, they said that rappers are making more money and getting more publicity than ever before. But were they? Look, if a label gives you an advance, that money should be spent on marketing and promoting your music, not necessarily at your local Cadillac dealer or Jacob the Jeweler.

Labels are basically banks in that they “loan” you some cash (the advance) and you contract to pay that money back from the album’s revenue. What’s the point of putting all your time and creative effort into writing, recording, producing, mixing and mastering and then submitting it to the label (because it’s not their contract) if you’re only going to be able to make about 10 cents get a discount on every album sale? This is absolutely ridiculous. During the hip-hop boom, most artists didn’t see it coming, and most up-and-coming artists did everything they could to “get on.” They basically asked for what I like to call “Neo-Slavery”.

So everything was bright and attractive from the outside. Flashy ads and videos that exploit women and promote ignorance. Dance and pretty radio releases, but they perpetuated black (African, Afro-Caribbean, Afro-American) stereotypes. The children’s education has distorted their view of masculinity and backward social values ​​in relation to money and the global economy. You can say “but it’s just music” and “it’s up to the parents”, but who are we really kidding? We all know that music can and does have an intense impact on society. So while rappers were being forced into opulent (but artificial) images of the good life, no one was paying attention to the long-term effects.

The labels knew it was a temporary thing. Tricks and fads don’t stay in music. True art and soul do. Therefore, they did everything they could, regardless of the casualties. In recent years, however, something of a musical revolution has taken place. The Internet has become a true equalizer when used correctly. Although sites like MySpace, Soundclick, Twitter, Facebook and ReverbNation, artists no longer need the structure of a major label. Today, an independent artist can record, produce, mix, and master in their home studio (thank goodness for Pro Tools LE/M-Powered, Reason, Fl Studio, and more), upload to MySpace or Reverbnation, and network like mad on On Facebook and Twitter. to get your marketing momentum going. Thousands of artists make a living selling 10-15k CDs in their home country and basically doing concerts and being hometown celebrities. Thanks to the affordable prices of compact HD camcorders these days, you can shoot your own videos and enjoy even more promotions on YouTube. Then when the buzz is at its peak, burn some CDs or download your tracks on iTunes. You really have everything right at your fingertips!

Artists must change their mentality to capitalize on these changing tides. Gone are the days when it was okay to just send in demos and hope an A&R likes you. Even record labels are changing their business models to fit the new environment. These days, if an artist makes enough noise on their own, a major label will contact them and offer them a deal. There we see the change of power. When they come to you, it means they have something they want, and it’s up to you to give it to them on YOUR terms. If the labels saw the light, why not the artists? Please don’t be a “neo-slave” in the age of freedom.

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