Russell Simmons Dislikes 360 Deals

Posted on November 16, 2011 by


Here is a portion of an interview with Russell from Billboard Magazine:

BBB: With the sale of EMI resulting in three major labels instead of four, do you think this kind of massive corporate concentration in the music industry is a microcosm of the larger problem of corporate influence?

Simmons: It’s a good question. I think the big companies can do what the big companies do, but they also give way to new innovation and new companies. But they’re all shrinking, so I don’t think that is a perfect example. Just to have the big infrastructure, the big company, the big thing. You know, I’m looking at Tyrese’s new album and how that came out. He made it in his basement and released it independently. He owns everything. I think that’s the roadmap for the future for a lot of artists. This could promote more independent success stories and the [major labels] haven’t figured out how to co-opt that.

Having a 360 deal with an artist but not knowing anything about the 359 other businesses is not really the answer. That’s not the future. If you’re going to invest in an artist, and make a piece of all that they do, then that’s a whole different business model. You’re in the artist business, not the music business. And they only know about the music business right now. They don’t have enough people who are smart about the whole artist business. So those companies, I don’t know what they’re going to do.

BBB: Do you see the explosion of digital music as having a democratizing effect or as just another revenue stream for the music industry? Or both?

Simmons: The artists themselves need to be compensated — whatever empowers the artist. It may have to be that the companies are not in the middle. It may have to be that the artist can monetize their music, can publish their music. These are the kinds of innovations that allow individuals to be empowered. And the closer the people can get to the artist, the better it is for the artist and the people. No middlemen. What’s wrong with that?

BBB: Do you have any projects on the horizon you’d like to mention?

Simmons: I’m going to buy a TV network. Why? There’s a lack of diversity. What they call diversity in the TV industry amounts to segregation. And so you don’t have innovation that leads the world the way the music industry leads the world.

My GlobalGrind Internet company has proof of concept. You see how integrated it is? That’s the way a great part of America sees the cultural landscape. No sites, however, see it that way. Some sites are lily-white and some sites are 95% black. And the way Latinos and Asians and I don’t care where they’re from – Pakistanis – wherever the second generation is, they grew up through the lens of hip-hop. And also there’s the urban graduates, kids who grew up in Beverly Hills, who grew up through the lens of hip-hop. And then there’s always the next generation behind them, who really and truly live in a diverse population – they consume content differently than the way we’re delivering it.

Justin Bieber shouldn’t have to watch BET to find out what’s cool. That’s bullsh–. There’s a point of entry for cool things and cultural things that exist, but there’s no vehicles to allow them to really exist in their own space. So I just think there’s a lack of sensitivity on the part of the programmers. They’re not inclusive. And that leaves a big hole in the market. I’m not saying people aren’t doing the best they can. They just don’t get it.


You can read the whole interview here:

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