Monday, November 28th, 2005

How To Make A Successful R & B Record, Pt. 4081

R&B Singer Seeks Rapper For Validation, Occasional Collabos. Inquire Here.

Great piece in yesterday’s NY Times by Jeff Leeds called “Scenes From an Arranged Marriage”.

The piece is about an upcoming R & B singer named Governor, who has delayed his release for years as he’s been shuttled from Dr. Dre’s camp to 50 Cent’s camp to now T.I.’s camp.

I told Jeff that I was jealous he had gotten the story. It’s a great example of the kind of reporting that is not often done in hip-hop journalism (Zino and Mays’ rants in The Source don’t count), and even less so in hip-hop scholarship (with the exception of Norman Kelley’s essential book Rhythm & Business). It’s a rare story that gets behind the shine into the gritty, often exploitative core of the economy of hip-hop.

The context for the piece is the convergence of media consolidation and the professionalization of hip-hop careers. Media consolidation drives bigger demands on the bottom line while raising the price of the music. Fewer artists get huger budgets. Is making pop like making fast food? Although an army of good and bad music critics will tell you otherwise (and sometimes they’ll be right), the economic truth is that IT IS: CDs. Hamburgers. Product.

At the same time, media consolidation has gutted the staffs of big companies. (All the old school Neo-Marxists in the house say: ‘Contradiction’!) So people like Dre, 50, and T.I. are more than just the talent these days. They have supplanted the A & R and management apparatuses in the business. Leeds’ subtext is clear: There’s so much money on the line that Governor cannot afford not to be married to some mob.

Usually we count this as a positive (see: the ascension of Jay-Z). But for someone like Governor, it’s a mixed bag…or worse. Now that headz write the checks, is it time to start talking about Record Industry Rule Number 4081?

Here’s a teaser:

“…record labels in recent years have made a point of introducing new, little-known acts as proteges of established stars. In some cases the two musicians might have grown up on the same block. Or perhaps they had shared the struggle of performing in the same unknown group. Either way, it’s a rich backstory that can be woven into any future marketing effort.

But what if the new singer doesn’t have any long-lost pals who’ve gone platinum?

For an increasingly desperate industry, that is but a minor obstacle. These days, label executives routinely shop their new prospects around from one star to another, trying to convince them to act as a mentor. Then the newcomer is marketed as a devotee, or a card-carrying member of the star’s ‘camp.'”

Click here for the entire Happy Meal…

posted by @ 4:14 pm | 1 Comment

One Response to “How To Make A Successful R & B Record, Pt. 4081”

  1. ronnie brown says:

    consolidation of resources has been goin’ on long before Marx stumbled upon the principle…too many cooks have always spoiled the broth…whether it’s food or new artist development…

    piggybackin’ on a rappers vapors is just plain LAZY. Whatever happened to creating an INDIVIDUAL identity for an artist based on his or her UNIQUE talent?

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