Rap Coalition

A HOW-TO RESOURCE FOR RAP ARTISTS, PRODUCERS, & DJs. Since knowledge is power, here is your best defense to succeed in the urban music industry...

Thursday, January 25, 2007


Shikari: A record deal? No way
Koopa and Enter Shikari are happy to be DIY bands who do it all for themselves. And they're just the start, says Chris Mugan
Published: 19 January 2007
For a record company that sells downloads to talk of "digital music year zero" sounds like hype, but the Musical Rights Collective might be on to something.

"DMY0" is when digital revenues outstrip those from physical formats. And such is the authority of this start-up operation that it began this year by merging with the long-established dance label Distinctive Records, home to breakbeat veterans Way Out West, Hybrid and Dub Pistols.

If anyone is making DMY0 a reality, though, it is artists working out of the mainstream - and none more so than Enter Shikari. This unsigned outfit sold out the 2,000-capacity Astoria in London last November, one of only two unsigned bands to do so. The Darkness was the other.

Enter Shikari are still refusing deals from major labels to release music through their own imprint, Ambush Reality. Their intention to remain self-sufficient may be tested, however; music writers polled by the BBC selected the St Albans band as one of their top five tips for 2007.

Their sound is not for the faint-hearted, similar as it is to the screamo phenomenon that looks to combine an emo aesthetic, as promoted by Fall Out Boy, with a more histrionic edge reminiscent of extreme heavy metal. The band have their first European dates this month in the Netherlands.

They may have already had live success at home, but they still sleep on floors, says the bassist Chris Batten. "We've still got no money, so we're just taking a minibus out to bring our crew with us. We're just glad to have a chance of playing to people who don't know our music."

Batten is still a little stunned by their success in selling out the Astoria for a gig that was upgraded from a smaller London venue. "It was amazing, unbelievable. We were worried about playing to a half-empty room, but with the ticket sales we had it was a risk worth taking."

Sleeping on floors is better than signing to a major label, Batten says. Enter Shikari are receiving support from their distributors, which has helped them to sign a deal in Europe, at the expense of receiving a massive advance.

"We thought long and hard about it because the big companies did make decent offers, but half their job is to build the grassroots and we'd done that already. So we're keeping our copyright and looking after the details such as merchandise and artwork - all the decisions that a major label wouldn't have passed through us."

Screamo has benefited from internet exposure, as disaffected teens bypass the fresh-faced bands that appeal to the big labels and plug in directly to hard-hitting sounds from as far afield as San Diego and New Jersey. Now, screamo qualifies as a specific genre on MySpace.

The British side of the scene is diverse and dispersed. Enter Shikari's trance-style synths soften the hardcore distortion, giving them a unique appeal. Close behind come the even more strident Flood of Red, roaring out of their native Glasgow with a blood-curdling answer to emo's star acts. And watch out for The Blackout, from Merthyr Tydfil; they take the established thorax-wrenching vocal style and add their own swagger, not dissimilar to the garage revival of Queens of the Stone Age.

If such groups have a measure of their success, it is the number of fans who link to their websites. This is a figure that is easy to bump up, so the trick is to count the number of times people have heard their tracks. On current playlists, each band is pushing half a million listens.

Hard as it may be to turn these figures into actual sales, this is certainly a good time for DIY bands to make their mark. The singles chart now counts downloaded tracks towards total sales, even if they do not form part of an official single release. This makes it easier for bands to make their mark. This week, Essex's unsigned pop-punk trio Koopa gatecrashed the charts with their track "Blag, Steal and Borrow".

The question now arises; should the chart retain its familiar name? The change to include downloads hasn't brought radical upheaval; the X Factor winner Leona Lewis retains her No 1 slot, with only minor changes to the chart's composition elsewhere. Snow Patrol's "Chasing Cars" re-entered after being deleted as a single, while Eminem's "You Don't Know" gained a top 40 position in spite of its physical version being disqualified owing to the inclusion of a sticker giveaway.

Still, the updated rules are good news for artists who want to rely on digital sales - as Enter Shikari, with their young fan-base, undoubtedly will. For a band with such energy, the avenues via which they can promote themselves have expanded considerably. This time last year, we were all talking about the potential of MySpace as a cheap, easy means for artists to get their music into the wider world. Certainly, Lily Allen and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah showed what can be achieved.

Now attention is focused on the video site YouTube, where some labels have been happy to promote their artists. Super Furry Animals front-man Gruff Rhys has used the site to promote his solo material; with its odd mix of psychedelic whimsy and pastoral, his album Candylion could have remained a cult listen. So the online outlets are not just for the new teen idols - anyone can benefit.

Thanks to Harry Allen for passing this article along...

Monday, January 22, 2007

DJ Drama article from the NY Times

January 22, 2007

Cracking Down on Mixtape CDs

Not long before Christmas, Jeff Baker, the chief of police of Morrow, Ga., a small town just south of Atlanta, and one of his officers were walking through a local shopping mall when they happened to pass a kiosk hawking rap music CDs. One in particular caught their attention.

The CD was “Tha Streets Iz Watchin,” with songs performed by the rapper Young Jeezy and, as Chief Baker recalled, it did not carry the name or address of the owner of the music copyrights, as Georgia law requires. Rather than arrest the kiosk vendor immediately, Chief Baker said, “We’d rather go after the source of the material. And at that point we had no idea what the source was.”

Any rap music aficionado would; the creator of the album is DJ Drama, whose real name is Tyree Simmons, arguably the nation’s most prominent producer of mixtapes, the name given to popular but largely unlicensed CDs stocked with yet-to-be released rap hits and free-style rhymes.

And many more people now know: last week, local authorities, working with the recording industry’s trade association, stunned fans and music executives alike by raiding DJ Drama’s studio in Atlanta and arresting him and a fellow D.J., Don Cannon, on racketeering charges. Investigators seized more than 81,000 allegedly pirated CDs and say the pair were producing unlicensed recordings and selling them without permission.

The raid sparked an outcry among many rap fans. But it also threatens to throw into public view the recording industry’s awkward relationship with mixtapes, long an integral element of rap culture and now commonly for sale on street corners, Web sites, many independent record shops and occasionally big chains.

Even as industry-financed antipiracy squads hunt for unauthorized recordings, senior executives at the major record labels privately say that they have courted — and often paid — top D.J.’s to create and distribute mixtapes featuring the labels’ rappers as part of efforts to generate buzz.

“It might not necessarily have the label’s logo on it, but they’re the ones cutting the checks for the recording and production” of many mixtapes, said Ian Steaman, a longtime talent and marketing executive who writes for the hip-hop Web site Different Kitchen. “It’s just kind of understood you need that channel of exposure for any kind of real, credible artist. I don’t think this industry’s ready to deal with that conversation.”

The raid also exposes a schism that is taking shape as the industry tries to stanch a slide in album sales, for which many blame piracy. On one side, many label executives and officials at the Recording Industry Association of America, which represents the major music companies, say the mixtape is contributing to the problem. They argue that sales are ultimately undermined when the mixtape leaps from promotional giveaway item to replacement for an artist’s official label-distributed album.

On the other side are a separate faction of label executives and a variety of artists, many of whom privately say they are worried that the chill cast on the mixtape world would handicap labels’ efforts to promote hip-hop sales, which declined roughly 20 percent last year, more than any other major genre, according to Nielsen SoundScan data.

Label executives remained puzzled over the sudden arrest of DJ Drama, whose ascent through the unregulated world of compilations has largely taken place in plain sight during the last couple of years. There has been speculation that the police inquiry into his business affairs was further spurred by tips from a competitor or unhappy customer. Chief Baker of the Morrow police declined to comment on the participation of any informants.

Mixtapes have been part of rap since the genre’s earliest days in the 1970s — back then, D.J.’s who spun records at clubs or parties committed their playlists to cassettes. But the proliferation of CD burners in the last several years has made the production and wide circulation — or sale — of mixtapes easier than ever.

It has also enhanced their role in tastemaking. Particularly since formerly underground mixtape hero 50 Cent broke out as a mainstream rap superstar in 2003, the top producers of unlicensed CDs have been embraced by the industry’s biggest corporations, who wager that the D.J.’s reputations as renegades will translate into the sale of legitimate, licensed compilations, too.

Atlantic Records, for one, hired the mixtape D.J. known as Sickamore as a talent scout and had signed DJ Drama, to its artist roster with plans to release an authorized mixtape-style album this year. Def Jam, Columbia and other big labels have released such CDs in the past.

The labels’ reliance on the D.J.’s is complicated further by the fact that many of the top mixtape creators also double as radio D.J.’s on major rap stations. Many label executives acknowledge that when they write checks to certain D.J.’s to produce a mix CD for an artist, there is often an expectation that the D.J. will play the artist’s music on the air — an arrangement that recalls the industry’s recent radio corruption scandals involving illicit pay-for-play, or payola.

Brad Buckles, the recording association’s executive vice president for antipiracy, said authorities seized about two million unlicensed hip-hop mix CDs last year, and speculated that sales of the recordings through Web sites and other channels could be running to the tens of millions of units annually.

Public performance of certain mixtape material “is probably good promotion,” Mr. Buckles said. “When you start selling them by the tens and hundreds of thousands, I don’t know that anyone is saying that’s of great promotional value.”

Even in the case of DJ Drama, whose mixtapes have been credited with stoking the careers of artists like Young Jeezy, Lil Wayne and last year’s best selling rap artist, T.I., it appears not everyone applauded inclusion on his recordings. The police said lawyers representing an array of artists sent cease-and-desist demands protesting the unauthorized use of their music, though they declined to identify the artists.

Nonetheless, the arrests instantly sent a shiver through hip-hop circles. One prominent Web site, mixunit.com, halted the sale of its usual wares and instead refocused on rap posters and T-shirts. Under a logo that read “Free Drama & Cannon,” the site said only that it was reorganizing with features that are “positive to the artists, D.J.’s and fans of this special element of hip-hop.”

Fans and music executives say the raid will most likely push the production and sale of mixtapes further underground — and encourage more efforts to skirt the edge of laws against the sale of unauthorized songs. At one major mixtape Web site, fans can choose from an array of current mix CDs on display. To get one, though, they must pay $7 for a sticker bearing the Web site’s name. Each sticker comes with a free mixtape.

The business can be tricky for the D.J.’s themselves too, said Mr. Buckles of the recording industry association. D.J.’s creating mixtapes with the intent of offering them free sometimes find that bootleggers then replicate the music and sell it.

“This is a world,” he added, “where everything just careens out of control once it’s created.”

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

DJ Drama

Reprinted, respectfully, from ThaFormula.com:

This interview was conducted a few days before Drama's incident with the RIAA. It's very unfortunate as Drama was in such high spirits during our interview. Much Respect to Drama and the Aphilliates and a big fuck you to the RIAA for messin' with this man's hustle and hard work. We will keep you posted on the situation and for those that don't know, click here for info on the bullshit that went down and peep the racist lingo by the media and the police...
thaFormula.com - You know a lot of people talk about how much the MC skill level has fallen off over time, but nobody really talks about how much the DJ skill level has also fallen…

DJ Drama - I agree with you and I think that's very important. You've got to study your craft and know your history, but the weak shall perish and the strong will survive at the end of the day. On the same token, you have to give credit to someone like Whoo-Kid who will admit that he's not a real DJ, but the marketing and the promotions he brought to the mixtape game is undeniable. What he lacked as far as being a real DJ, he made up in marketing and making the mixtapes bigger than life. So you have to credit people like that, who make the game bigger then it is. It's like a MC. The most super lyrical MC can be the most craziest dude, but they not might always be the biggest artists and sometimes its the artists with the swagger that be saying a little less, but its the whole package that matters. Common and Jay-Z, when they first started used to rap crazy fast, but they really got popular when they kind of slowed down. So just 'cause you can scratch fast or blend a million fucking records doesn't mean that you know how to make a great mixtape. It means that you can be an awesome DJ or turntablist, but the mixtape game is a little different. So I think its important to incorporate everything from your skill to your marketing, etc. Like when I first started doing mixtapes, I didn't really say a lot on my mixtapes and then I kind of learned as I went along how to incorporate the mic into my mixtapes. Then I realized people don't wanna hear people shout-out all the time 'cause people have done that. So let me do something different like let me talk some shit or say something creative to make people remember what I was talking about on the tape.

thaFormula.com - As far as opportunities, what did you see in Atlanta that you didn't see in Philly? 'Cause I know you left Philly to go to college in Atlanta…

DJ Drama - Just that. Opportunity and a lot of love. Philly is a cold city. I love my city, but its the grind. Philly is a up North type big city where its a struggle. I come from a generation where we used to be on a corner in a cipher rappin' all the time. But as far as the outlets, they were far and few. A lot of people had to basically go to New York to get on. So I just noticed early on in Atlanta that there was a lot of love and support. I don't discredit Philly artistically, but Atlanta just had a lot of outlets. It had a lot of young affluent people who were in a position to provide for other people. Like when I was on a mid-level and not really making a lot of money, I was still able to provide for myself and I wasn't even at the top of the food chain. Now I'm at the top of the food chain, but back then I was just coming up. But in Philly you wouldn't have been able to do that. Your either on or your trying to get on. There is very limited middle-grounds. As far as talent Philly has the shit though.

thaFormula.com - Over the time that Atlanta has blown up, have things changed a lot or is the love still the same in Atlanta?

DJ Drama - Its still the same type love. Things have changed some though. The club scene isn't what it used to be in the 'A." It's not as poppin' as it used to be, but overall its been nothing but good for me. It's just grown man. There is just so much more going on in Atlanta. In my eyes it's become like the new Mecca of Hip-Hop.

thaFormula.com - You know a lot of people complain about how the South has ruined to Hip-Hop and stuff like that, but one thing I will say is that the Southern artists are some real cool ass, humble dudes man compared to a lot of artists from other coasts. Why is that?

DJ Drama - Its warm here. It's warm all year around. Southern hospitality man. I think that saying goes a long way. Where I come from, you walk down the street you don't talk to 'brothas. You lock your door and you put the club on the car. In Atlanta when you walk down the street, cross paths with somebody and you look them in the eye they are gonna speak to you. That shit fucked me up when I first got here. Like people speak to each other? It really is Southern hospitality. The weather is warm. You know its cold up top man. That affects your mood. It's hard for me to put everybody in a box 'cause you know in a lot of ways too Atlanta is like the Black Hollywood. You come down here and everybody has a nice car and you feel like "damn I got to get a nice car." With me this is something I always wanted to do and I don't take it for granted, nor do I feel like I made it 'cause there is always more things to aspire to.

thaFormula.com - Going through the whole southern hospitality thing, did it make you look at things a little differently looking back now?

DJ Drama - Nah, because I learned my hustle from coming from where I came from. Even with the changes we made to the mixtape game, I have to owe that to coming from up North 'cause that's where I learned to hustle. The way I am as a person came from me growing up in the North, so I don't take nothing away from that. There is still no denying that there is nothing like a New York minute, or there is no city like New York City. It is one of the greatest places in the world for what it offers so I don't take nothing away from that. I like the East Coast, I love up North too. I love livin' in the "A" but I'm also very proud of where I'm from coming from Philly. I don't fault nobody for their attitudes.

thaFormula.com - I'm curious about the "Hip-Hop is Dead" thing man when it comes to you, because you grew up in Philly but stay in the South. Do you feel caught in the middle of all that seeing that you are from both coasts basically?

DJ Drama - I got two feelings about that. One, I don't feel Hip-Hop is dead. If anything, I'm here. All I know is Hip-Hop since I was young. I think people look at groups like D4L and Franchise Boyz and I don't fault them for what they brought to the table, them niggaz never knew they was gonna even be that big. Them niggaz was making music in they hood for the club around the corner called the "Pool Palace." Did they know that Cali niggaz and New Your niggaz and Japan people were gonna start leaning and snappin'? No. They didn't even care, they just wanted to be hot at the "Pool Palace" on the west side. Like for real, that's the foundation of Hip-Hop, some shit that comes from the streets and goes International. There has always been party music so that argument to me is false. If you look at artists like T.I., and Lil' Wayne who is keeping the artistry alive, those are two of the biggest artists of the year and they both came from the South. But on the other end, I think that Nas bringing up "Hip-Hop is Dead" and also bringing up that dialogue, I can't knock it, it was genius. It got everybody talking and whatever people wanna say about the South, I hold the South strong on my back and on my shoulders but at the same time, l love the fact that it created dialogue within the Hip-Hop community. Because during times like this, we always rise out of this. I'm a student of the game man and I love this shit. This is all I do. I see all sides of it. I stand with the South strong, I'm proud of what we have accomplished and where we are at and the South has proven itself time and time again for the last 10 years.

thaFormula.com - Were you surprised that so man people took offense to what Nas said and why do you think the South really took offense to it?

DJ Drama - I think it was because it wasn't just how Nas was saying it, but it was also the "Hip-Hop is Dead" and its been the whole "bring New York back," and you know the "savior of Hip-Hop" and all those type comments, and its just like at a time when the South is just so prevalent and really so much music is coming out the South. So niggaz is feeling like "how can you say 'Hip-Hop is Dead' when we doing this and doing that?" Granted, record sales are down but niggaz be throwing darts, like a lot of darts are thrown. So I just think people took a little offense to it. I'm not even gonna front, when people come to me and say "your the number one DJ in the South," I'm like "nah niggaz, listen to 'Gangsta Grillz' everywhere, don't put me on the South box." It's like Black actors, you don't wanna be the number one black actor, you wanna be the number one actor. If that's your craft, that's your craft. Denzel is not the number one Black actor, he's the number one actor. He's up there with Robert Deniro and all that. So for me I don't want to be the hottest nigga in the South, I wanna be the hottest nigga out here, fuck where I live or where I'm from. I'll rock with any mixtape DJ if you wanna go tape for tape. So that's how niggaz in the South feel.

thaFormula.com - Now you started the Aphilliates in 2003. What was your goal when you started?

DJ Drama - I don't even think we had a goal. We just was trying to do our own thing. We had all come from other situations being under other peoples wings and stuff like that and we realized we could do our own shit. So I just think we was just trying to make our own. We knew we was killin' the streets and knew we had something good so we were just trying to make a couple of dollars and be able to live off of what we love to do. I just remember during those times, me working on the mixtapes and the drops and how important it was for us to brand ourselves and let it be known about the Aphilliates. But I knew we was onto something good.

thaFormula.com - It took you 3 years to get to where you're at as far as from when you started the Aphilliates, how much work did it really take to get to such a high level so quickly?

DJ Drama - It took a lot of work man. Before those 3 years, we had been putting in a lot of leg work and you know I've been doing my thing since High School so it's a long road. This shit ain't easy. It's a lot of dedication, a lot of consistency and staying on top of it. That's all we did. We had a lot of uphill battles to fight. It's like being in a league. You know it's a 82 game season. We was rookies, we had our team you know. You win some, you lose some and you just try to make it to the playoffs. For real, every year is like a new season. You can't take it for granted. I could be on top right now, I done made it to the playoffs and got to the championships, but next year is a whole new season. It's other niggaz in the game coming for the chip. So you just gotta play every day like you got to ball.

thaFormula.com - When did you know that you had something special in your "Gangsta Grillz" mixtape series man?

DJ Drama - I came up with "Gangsta Grillz" kind of just fucking around. I never really planned it to be what it was. I'm very strong on branding. You know how important that is and everything. I used to just hustle my tapes myself and I remember early on when hosting was becoming really popular on mixtapes and I noticed that the South wasn't really having nothing like that going at the time. So I noticed that void and took a formula that I seen niggaz was running with up top and I utilized it with the South. I got Lil' Jon to come host and I just started to get a little buzz about the tapes when I was in the streets and people were telling me that I was on to something. I remember when I did "Gangsta Grillz 6" and I went to the bootleggers spot. The Africans, they used to have these big warehouses where they would bootleg all these CD's and it was right about the time 50 Cent dropped "Get Rich or Die Trying." Anyway I went to the bootleggers and saw just as many "Gangsta Grills 6" bootlegs as I did 50 Cent's "Get Rich" album. The bootleggers told me that they was movin' thousands. They was probably getting more money off that shit then I was. I didn't even realize how big the shit was at the time. There was a point and time when "Gangsta Grillz" was so much larger then DJ Drama. Niggaz knew "Gangsta Grillz" but they didn't know who I was. That was big to me because I had created a brand. I knew a long time ago right when we first started the Aphilliates that the opportunity to do an album was gonna come about if I stayed on the same path.

thaFormula.com - How much does growing up in Philly have to do with your style of mixtapes, having a east coast/southern feel to them?

DJ Drama - It has everything to do with it. I grew up on East Coast mixtapes. I didn't know who DJ Screw was or DJ Jelly was until I got to the "A." Them niggaz ran the South, but I grew up on Ron G, Doo Wop, Clue, and S&S. That's who I used to listen to, so it's definitely a reason why my mixtapes sound the way they sound.

thaFormula.com - How does it feel to be considered one of the top DJ's in the industry along with Lantern, Flex, Slay, Whoo Kid and stuff like that?

DJ Drama - It's an honor. Everyone you named is someone that I have been a fan of their career. I looked at them when I was on the rise. It keeps me hungry though as I don't get comfortable. It's a lot still left to do. It feels like though, I worked a lot to get where I'm at so it feels good to be recognized by the streets, my peers and the industry.

thaFormula.com - Have you ever faced any problems with the similarities with your name and Kay Slay being known as the "Drama King?"

DJ Drama - It's funny you asked that. I have had the name Drama since I was like 16 and since I got it I always felt like I was at a handicap because my name was such a common word that I thought it was gonna be real hard for me to get on and I even tried to change it a lot of times because I was like "its gonna be too hard to have the name DJ Drama." I remember there was a rapper in Atlanta named Drama, there was a DJ in Atlanta named Drama, then Kay Slays name was the "Drama King," so I was like "how am I gonna make anybody think of me with me going by that name." I remember there was another DJ who was my man and I told him that I was thinking of changing my name. He was like, "don't change your name for nobody, don't change your name for nobody, make them change their name." And that shit always stuck with me. So I never really changed it and look at me know. I tell people that all the time. A name is really all what you make it. Its funny looking back at it 'cause I damn sure thought it was gonna be hard. For the record, I know K-Slay has made some comments on me in the media, but I been DJ Drama since '94, since I was in High School so I done had that name for easy 10 or 11 years. I have no problems with Slay. Slay has showed me love. I been to his radio show and he showed me respect on it and everything. I kind of assumed that there would come a point and time when he may have some comments on my name, but I ain't trippin' on that, that's what Slay does. He's the "Drama King."

thaFormula.com - Now are you bringing the "Gangsta Grillz" album to Atlantic as a series?

DJ Drama - I got a 4 or 5 album deal so it's not just gonna be one album, its gonna be more then that. So I brought it to the table as a series. Right now it's gonna be just like my mixtapes. I'm not gonna switch my formula up. It's working so why change it. Its gonna be all fresh material and brand new, but it's gonna be what people have grown to love out of "Gangsta Grillz."

thaFormula.com - Is production something you are gonna get into?

DJ Drama - On this album, the beats aren't something that I have actually produced all the way, but I could say that I kind of co produced the whole album because nothing is just a song that somebody gave me. The whole album is my canvas. I pick my beats, I figure out who goes where, we put them here, we add this we add that. In a sense I consider myself a producer even tough I may not have been the one pushing the drum pads at the moment. I plan to get back to that though. But you know, we got a production staff so its been good. I've been getting great production from other producers. Whoever has the right sound, whoever fits what we need on this album is where I'm going at.

thaFormula.com - Is it gonna be mainly Atlantic artists on the album?

DJ Drama - Nah, it's everybody. Quality street music. I'm almost done with it man. I've got to turn my shit in in January so were looking at a April release date. I just got a couple more joints to bang out and I'm ready to go. Everybody is on the album. T.I., Young Jeezy, Lil' Wayne, Just Blaze, Juvenile, Souljah Slim (RIP), B.G., Beanie Siegel, Cassidy, Pharell, the Clipse, Young Joc, Jadakiss, Styles P, Bun B, and that's not even everybody.

thaFormula.com - Do you plan on putting any underground artists on there like Saigon, Little Brother, Papoose, etc.?

DJ Drama - I thought about it. I wanna put as many niggaz on my album as I can.

thaFormula.com - Other then that what's the ultimate goal for you?

DJ Drama - To leave a legacy and create a dynasty. Just be able to move the culture forward. At some point be able to build a DJ Drama/Aphilliates foundation where we can send kids to college. My idols are the same idols that everybody else's are. Jay-Z, Puff, Russell Simmons. Those are our heroes in the rap game 'cause those are hustlers that took their brand and business to the next level. That's why I stay hungry and humble because I ain't really done nothing yet for what I love in rap music. There is so much more to do. It's so crazy that DJ'ing or mixtapes were such a door opener for me. We got a label deal and album deal, radio shows and all these opportunities off of what I love to do. So I'm trying to move the culture forward, put out quality and make a lot of money.

thaFormula.com - How much of this business is who you know and how much is based on talent?

DJ Drama - I think it's both. I think the more you have of both the farther you're gonna get. If you have good talent but not good business you'll make it, but you won't last long. If you have good business but no talent you will make it but you won't last long. If you have good business and great talent, your gonna go far.

thaFormula.com - Is grinding 24/7 the only way in this business and is it something you learned from seeing the most successful people in this industry at work?

DJ Drama - I think it's important to grind 24/7 but it's also important to sleep. I don't believe that. You got to have sleep because you have to get readjusted, you got to stay healthy. Stability is important. The majority of the grown men in the business all have families. You have to grow up at some point. You can't believe the hype thinking you got to be out in the club or be out all times of the hour. It can be done but at some point that's not what its all about. I spend most of my time in the studio working, but if I'm not, I wanna get some fucking rest so my next day can be just as productive.

thaFormula.com - What are some of the sacrifices that you have made in your life in order to get where you are at now?

DJ Drama - I have made a lot of sacrifices. I got a daughter that I don't see as much as I would like to because I'm working a lot. But in the long run, it enables me to send her to private school or have a college fund set up for her so you make sacrifices. You have to know when to be selfish. It's tough in the music industry or in the Hip-Hop business because there is always something to do but you can't let the game get the best of you.

thaFormula.com - What do you think is the number one thing a person should know when getting into this industry man?

DJ Drama - If you don't love it, get out because the shit is not a fucking game. If you wouldn't do it for free, then you might not need to be here.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Houston Hip-Hoppers Are Living Large

"Chamillionaire" and other Texas-based rappers are making it big both inside and outside the music biz

by Douglas MacMillan for Business Week 1/2007

His single Ridin' just received two nominations for the 2007 Grammy Awards, has sold over 3 million ringtones, and merited a parody by Weird Al Yankovic. His latest album The Sound of Revenge went platinum-plus. But is Hakeem "Chamillionaire" Seriki focusing solely on music? No. Like Russell Simmons, Master P, and Jay-Z, Chamillionaire has the mindset and the business acumen of a serial entrepreneur.
At 27, he has his own record label (Chamillitary Entertainment), co-owns a car-customizing business dubbed Fly Rides, is building a real estate portfolio, and will soon open the doors of his own talent agency, Masterpiece Mind Frame.

Growing up in Houston, Texas Chamillionaire recalls: "There was no Sony or Def Jam, so everybody was forced to learn how to be independent. When you start off selling CDs out of your trunk and to mom-and-pop stores, you breed yourself into being an entrepreneur."

Growing Breed

The Houston of Chamillionaire's youth in the 1990s calls to mind the Bronx of the early 1980s, where pioneers of hip-hop laid the groundwork for a cultural phenomenon. From rhymes by rappers like Run DMC and beats spun by DJs such as Kool Herc, hip-hop emerged into a lifestyle. And for those with a mind for business, it was a way of life with opportunity for serious financial gain.

Chamillionaire is part of a growing breed of Houston hip-hop artists who are using their celebrity to sell more than just music. In recent years Houston has become a wellspring of commercially successful and critically acclaimed hip-hop artists, fostered mainly by independent labels rather than corporate studios. Their independence is manifesting itself not just in their music but in their desire to be entrepreneurs.

"The way the old school guys define hip-hop wasn't just about the music, it was about graffiti and break-dancing, and it came out of the parties people were throwing," says Tim Leffel, who co-authored a book about the business of hip-hop in 2006 titled Hip-Hop Inc. (Thunder's Mouth Press). "People who are into it live it and breathe it. It affects fashion, TV, movies … even sports drinks."

Cross-Town Rival

For Chamillionaire, leveraging his name in a variety of industries is, in his mind, crucial to his long-term success. "It's all about diversifying—having a little bit of money coming in from everywhere—to make a lot. In this rap world, once you step through the doors you want to get as much as you can and grow your finances. Some people are only thinking for the minute. I'm thinking about building an empire."
Across town, Chamillionaire's former group member, Paul Wall, now a successful solo artist with Swishahouse Records, is building an empire of his own. In 1998 he began a dental jewelry business—Grills by Paul Wall—which crafts and retails mouthpieces made from 24K gold and inlaid with diamonds. This year he plans to launch a clothing line called Extravagant Taste and open a Wahoo's Fish Taco franchise restaurant.
Like Chamillionaire, Wall says he learned to be an entrepreneur in part by climbing the ladder of Houston's independent music scene. "We understand the concept of [selling] our records ourselves or else we're not going to get paid," he says. "We got the strong hustle, the strong grind embedded in us since Day One."

Corporate Tie-Ins Are O.K.

While the name Paul Wall is selling thousands of custom dental grills a year—through his online store, two retail locations, and wholesalers—the artist owes some of his notoriety to his ability to market his idiosyncratic choice of jewelry, which he proudly flashes as he smiles on album covers, in music videos, on award shows, and which he frequently rhymes about on tracks.

"The music I believe is the most important," Wall says when asked whether he now considers himself to be more of a musician or an entrepreneur. "Because that generates a large majority of the income and also it's an avenue for me to promote whatever I got goin' on—whether it's the grills or the restaurant."
Though Grills is an independent operation and Wall's music is still independently produced, he says that he would in no way be opposed to a contract with a major diamond seller like De Beers, for instance—given the right deal.

Money Creates Credibility

Such is the attitude of most hip-hop artists-turned-entrepreneurs. Whereas rock musicians might concern themselves with potentially alienating their fan base by joining hands with Corporate America, a rapper's image is usually strengthened by gobs of wealth, regardless of its source. The omnipresent example is Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter, who has become chief executive officer of Def Jam and Roc-A Fella Records (both owned by Universal Music Group) as well as co-owner of the upscale sports bar chain 40/40 and the Rocawear fashion label, and a minority owner of the New Jersey Nets.

Far from being considered a sell-out, the five-time Grammy Award-winning rapper's music career is hotter than ever. Even Chamillionaire—like so many hip-hop fans—says Jay-Z is his favorite rapper.

"In hip-hop it adds to your credibility to say you have a lot of money," says Clyde Smith, who writes ProHipHop.com, a blog covering hip-hop marketing. Once it was validated by record sales, Smith posits, rapping became a way to transcend class—and becoming a diversified entrepreneur was an essential tool for achieving that goal. "Somehow rap became symbolic of a way to move up in the world. Aspirations of all kinds besides just artistic ones got tied together early on," says Smith.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

2006 U.S. Music Purchases Exceed 1 Billion Sales
Growth In Overall Music Sales Exceeds 19%, Digital Track Sales Increase 65% from 2005

Nielsen Music 2006 Year-End Music Industry Report

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nielsen SoundScan, the entertainment industry's data information system that tracks point-of-purchase sales of recorded music product, Nielsen BDS, the music industry’s leading music performance monitoring service, and Nielsen RingScan, which tracks mobile ringtone purchases, have announced their 2006 U.S. year-end sales and airplay monitoring data for the 52-week period January 2 through December 31, 2006.

OVERALL MUSIC SALES (01/02/06 - 12/31/06)
UNITS SOLD 2006 2005 % Chg.
1,198 1,003 19.4%

TOTAL ALBUM SALES (01/02/06 - 12/31/06)
UNITS SOLD 2006 2005 % Chg.
588.2 618.9 -4.9%

(01/02/2006 - 12/31/2006 - SALES IN MILLIONS)
UNITS SOLD 2006 2005 % Chg.
581.9 352.7 65%

OVERALL ALBUM SALES (01/02/06 - 12/31/06)
UNITS SOLD 2006 2005 % Chg.
646.4 654.1 -1.2%

INTERNET ALBUM SALES (01/02/06 - 12/31/06)
(Physical album purchases via e-commerce sites, In Millions)
UNITS SOLD 2006 2005 % Chg.
29.4 24.7 19.0%

(01/02/2006 - 12/31/2006 - IN MILLIONS)
UNITS SOLD 2006 2005 % CHG.
32.6 16.2 101%


Genre 2006 2005 % Chg.
Alternative 109,672 120,797 -9.2%
Christian/Gospel 39,715 39,211 1.3%
Classical 19,447 15,875 22.5%
Country 74,886 75,327 -0.5%
Jazz 15,720 17,139 -8.3%
Latin 37,774 35,907 5.2%
Metal 61,557 64,473 -4.5%
New Age 3,412 4,412 -22.7%
R&B 117,005 143,392 -18.4%
Rap 59,534 75,062 -20.7%
170,726 NA
Soundtrack 27,177 22,849 18.9%
(Note: Titles may appear in more than one genre.)
(a) Rock was a new genre in 2006.


(Sales In Millions: 01/02/06-12/31/06)

Overall Albums 2006 2005 % Chg.
Current 363.9 389.4 -6.5%
Catalog 224.2 229.5 -2.3%
Deep Catalog 158.2 157.5 0.4%

Physical Albums: 2006 2005 % Chg.
Current 345.3 379.8 -9.1%
Catalog 210.2 222.8 -8.1%
Deep Catalog 148.4 152.7 -2.8%

Digital Albums: 2006 2005 % Chg.
Current 18.6 9.6 93.7%
Catalog 14.0 6.7 108.9%
Deep Catalog 9.8 4.8 104.2%

(reflects the market share for the entire entity, including sub-distributed companies)

TOTAL ALBUMS (Catalog & Current Titles)

2006 2005 2006 2005 2006 2005
UMG 31.61% 31.71% UMG 34.37 34.82% UMG 27.14 27.72%
BMG 11.95% 11.78% BMG 13.71 13.16% BMG 9.08 10.54%
SONY 15.49% 15.67% SONY 14.42 14.55% SONY 17.23 15.77%
SONYBMG Total 27.44% 27.45% SONYBMG Total 28.13 27.71% SONYBMG Total 26.31 26.31%
WMG 18.14% 17.28% WMG 16.85 16.02% WMG 20.25 20.66%
EMI 10.20% 10.38% EMI 9.23 9.21% EMI 11.77 12.14%
OTHERS 12.61% 13.18% OTHERS 11.43 12.24% OTHERS 14.52 13.17%
2006 YEAR-TO-DATE RECORD COMPANY MARKET SHARE continued…(1/02/06 - 12/31/06)

(reflects the market share for the entire entity including sub-distributed companies)


2006 2005 2006 2005
UMG 27.35% 29.78% UMG 32.96% 33.27%
BMG 10.25% 11.75% BMG 12.21% 13.22%
SONY 13.75% 12.47% SONY 13.45% 13.39%
SONYBMG Total 24.00% 24.22% SONYBMG Total 25.66% 26.61%
WMG 23.29% 21.57% WMG 19.69% 18.26%
EMI 9.99% 11.44% EMI 7.93% 7.84%
OTHERS 15.37% 12.99% OTHERS 13.75% 14.02%

(based on Album sales from 01/02/2006-12/31/2006)

Title/Artist Units Sold Artist Units Sold
1 Soundtrack / High School Musical
3,719,071 1 Rascal Flatts 4,970,640
2 Me and My Gang / Rascal Flatts
3,479,994 2 Johnny Cash 4,826,320
3 Some Hearts / Carrie Underwood
3,015,950 3 Nickelback 3,160,025
4 All the Right Reasons/ Nickelback
2,688,166 4 Carrie Underwood 3,016,123
5 Futuresex/Love … / Justin Timberlake
2,377,127 5 Beatles 2,812,720
6 Back to Bedlam / James Blunt
2,137,142 6 Tim McGraw 2,657,675
7 B’day / Beyonce
2,010,311 7 Andrea Bocelli 2,524,681
8 Soundtrack/ Hannah Montana
1,987,681 8 Mary J. Blige 2,485,897
9 Taking the Long Way/ Dixie Chicks
1,856,284 9 Keith Urban 2,442,577
10. Extreme Behavior/ Hinder
1,817,350 10. Justin Timberlake 2,437,763

(based on digital track sales from 01/02/2006 – 12/31/2006)

Title/Artist Units Sold Artist Units Sold
1 Bad Day (Album Version) / Daniel Powter
1,935,974 1 Rascal Flatts 3,792,277
2 Crazy (Album Version) / Gnarls Barkley
1,628,599 2 Nickelback 3,715,579
3 Over My Head / Fray
1,518,450 3 Fray 3,625,140
4 Temperature (Album Version) / Sean Paul
1,504,658 4 All-American Rejects 3,362,528
5 Lips of an Angel / Hinder
1,371,907 5 Justin Timberlake 3,290,523
6 Hips Don’t Lie / Shakira
1,365,433 6 Pussycat Dolls 3,277,709
7 How To Save A Life / Fray
1,365,033 7 Red Hot Chili Peppers 3,254,306
8 Unwritten / Natasha Bedingfield
1,355,792 8 Nelly Furtado 3,052,457
9 Sexyback Main Vers. / Justin Timberlake
1,316,531 9 Eminem 2,950,113
10. Dani California(Alb..)/Red Hot Chili Peppers
1,284,677 10. Sean Paul 2,764,505


(combines all versions of the same Song: 01/02/06 – 12/31/2006)

Title/Artist Units Sold Artist Units Sold
1 Bad Day / Daniel Powter
2,015,594 1 How to Save a Life / Fray
2 Promiscuous / Nelly Furtado
1,709,274 2 Continuum / John Mayer
3 Sexyback / Justin Timberlake
1,657,798 3 FutureSex/Love Songs / Justin Timberlake
4 Crazy / Gnarls Barkley
4 Curious George:Sing.. / Jack Johnson & Frie
5 You’re Beautiful / James Blunt
5 Back to Bedlam / James Blunt
6 Over My Head (Cable Car) / Fray
1,570,207 6 Soundtrack / High School Musical
7 How to Save a Life / Fray
1,559,704 7 Stadium Arcadium / Red Hot Chili Peppers
8 Temperature / Sean Paul
1,533,362 8 Taking the Long Way/ Dixie Chicks
9 Ridin’ / Chamillionaire
1,417,178 9 Fever You Can’t Sweat… /Panic!At the Disco
10. Hips Don’t Lie / Shakira
1,410,237 10. Me and My Gang / Rascal Flatts

(1991 – 12/31/2006)

Title/Artist Units Sold Artist Units Sold
1 Wintersong/Sarah Mclachlan 759,162 1 Come on Over / Shania Twain
2 Now Christmas 3/Various 648,254 2 Metallica / Metallica
3 Christmas Album/James Taylor 495,188 3 Jagged Little Pill / Alanis Morissette
4 Christmas Collection/ Il Divo 443,768 4 Millennium / Backstreet Boys
5 Lost Christmas Eve/ Trans-Siberian Orch. 372,683 5 Bodyguard / Soundtrack
6 Charlie Brown Christmas/Vince Guaraldi Trio 332,314 6 Supernatural / Santana
7 Very Larry Christmas/Larry the Cable Guy 312,125 7 Human Clay / Creed
8 Christmas Celebration/Celtic Woman 308,199 8 No Strings Attached / N Sync
9 Christmas Eve & Other../Trans Siberian Orch 288,639 9 Beatles 1 / Beatles
10. Cool Yule/ Bette Midler 271,312 10. Falling Into You / Celine Dion

Year End Factoids:

Overall music purchases in 2006 exceeded the 1 Billion sales plateau for the second consecutive year; 1.2 billion (2006) vs. 1 billion (2005).
The last two weeks of 2006, music sales exceeded 47.4 million (week ending 12-24) and 45.0 million (week ending 12/31), representing the 2 biggest weeks in the history of Nielsen SoundScan. The previous record was Christmas week 2005 with 44.7 million music purchases.
More than 580 million digital tracks were purchased during 2006; an increase of 65% over 2005.
In the final reporting week of 2006 (12/25/06 – 12/31/06) the following sales records were broken:
-- Digital track sales blew away the previous sales record with
a new record high of 30.1 million track sales (previous
record was 19.9 million, week of 12/24-1/1/05).

-- Digital album sales reached the 1 million plateau for the
first time with sales exceeding 1.2 million (previous record
was 12/24/06 with 855,000 sales).

-- Beyonce's "Irreplaceable" track sets the mark for the
biggest selling week for an individual Digital Track, with
sales of 269,000 (previous record was Justin Timberlake's
"Sexyback" at 250,000 sales).

-- Three different songs broke the previous mark for the
biggest selling week for a Digital Song (combining all
versions of the same song) with Fergie's "Fergalicious"
setting the new record with sales of 295,000. Both Beyonce's
"Irreplaceable" (269,000) and Akon's "Smack That" (252,000)
had greater sales than the previous record set by Justin
Timberlake's "Sexyback" (previous record was 250,000 sales).
Rascal Flatts was the biggest selling artist, with nearly 5 million physical album sales and nearly 4 million digital track sales.
High School Musical Soundtrack was the top-selling album of year with sales exceeding 3.7 million units. The first Soundtrack to sell more than 3 million units in a year since the 8 Mile Soundtrack in 2002 and the first time since 1998 that a Soundtrack was the best selling album of year (Titanic Soundtrack – 9.3 million).
For the first time, a Digital Song broke the 2 million sales mark in a year: “Bad Day” by Daniel Powter (2,015,000)
22 Digital Songs exceeded the 1 million sales mark for the year compared to only 2 Digital Songs in 2005.
Internet album sales reached a record high of 29 million unit sales; an increase of 19% over 2005 sales total.
41% of all albums purchased were at a Mass Merchant outlet compared to 40% in 2005 and 38% in 2004 (35% in 2003 and 34% in 2002).
Chain music stores accounted for 41% of all album sales, compared to 45% in 2005 and 48% in 2004.
Independent music stores accounted for 6% of all album sales compared to 7% in 2005 and 9% in 2004.
Non-Traditional music outlets accounted for 12% of all album sales, compared to 9% in 2005 and 5% in 2004 (4% in 2003).
Latin music sales exceeded 37 million units, breaking the previous sales peak of 35 million in 2005. Latin album sales grew 5% from 2005.
Both Soundtrack albums and Classical albums gained in sales, up 19% and 23% respectively.
Overall Album sales (including Albums and Track Equivalent Album sales) declined 1.2% compared to 2005.
Total album sales declined 4.9% compared to 2005.
Consistent with the previous two years, 20% of total album sales occurred during the Holiday Season (last 6 weeks of year).
Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems (Nielsen BDS), the music industry’s leading music performance monitoring service, has announced the most played songs at radio, at video, as well as Internet music streams for 2006.

Nielsen BDS: Top 10 Most Played Songs
Nielsen BDS: 2006 Top 10 Artist Airplay

Title/Artist Detections Artist Detections
1 Be Without You/Mary J. Blige 399,601 1 Nickelback 874,304
2 Unwritten/Natasha Bedingfield 342,283 2 Kelly Clarkson 786,810
3 Temperature/Sean Paul 327,664 3 Toby Keith 741,791
4 Me & U/ Cassie 317,865 4 Rascal Flatts 732,150
5 Hips Don’t Lie/ Shakira feat. Wyclef Jean 313,555 5 Tim McGraw 722,074
6 Promiscuous/ Nelly Furtado 297,980 6 Kenny Chesney 715,427
7 Bad Day/ Daniel Powter 295,374 7 George Strait 657,490
8 Check On It/ Beyonce feat. Slim Thug 292,023 8 Keith Urban 644,769
9 Over My Head (Cable Car)/ Fray 282,583 9 Mary J. Blige 629,967
10. So Sick/ Ne-Yo 279,663 10. Ne-Yo 578,336
Nielsen BDS: Top 10 Music Video Internet Streams
Nielsen BDS: Top 10 Internet Streams

Title/Artist Detections Title/Artist Detections
1 Hips Don’t Lie/Shakira feat. Wyclef Jean 50,494,051 1 Me & U/ Cassie 12,378,057
2 Check On It/ Beyonce feat. Slim Thug 16,309,914 2 Hips Don’t Lie/ Shakira feat. Wyclef 12,350,823
3 SOS/ Rihanna 15,437,252 3 Temperature/ Sean Paul 12,236,883
4 Stupid Girls/ Pink 15,016,999 4 You’re Beautiful/ James Blunt 12,108,879
5 Buttons/ Pussycat Dolls 14,549,037 5 Check On It/ Beyonce feat. Slim Thug 10,427,511
6 I’m N Luv (Wit A Stripper)/ T-Pain 14,332,778 6 So Sick/ Ne-Yo 10,089,266
7 Temperature/ Sean Paul 14,169,125 7 I’m N Luv (Wit A Stripper)/ T-Pain 10,034,849
8 Unfaithful/ Rihanna 13,952,532 8 Bad Day/ Daniel Powter 9,886,562
9 Beep/ Pussycat Dolls 13,785,499 9 Be Without You/ Mary J. Blige 9,870,366
10. Promiscuous/Nelly Furtado feat. Timberland 12,919,796 10. Crazy/ Gnarls Barkley 9,162,018

Nielsen Mobile (Nielsen RingScan) has announced the Top Selling Mastertones (partial year) and Polyphonic ringtones for 2006.

Nielsen RingScan: Top 10 Mastertones
Nielsen RingScan: Top 10 Polyphonic Ringtones

(Partial year - 09/04/2006-12/31/2006)

Title/Artist Sales Title/Artist Sales
Smack That/ Akon 1,574,362 1 Super Mario Bros./ Theme 747,900
2 Lips of An Angel/ Hinder 1,270,996 2 My Humps/ Black Eyed Peas 517,757
3 Sexyback/ Justin Timberlake 1,215,058 3 Grillz/ Nelly 499,935
4 Irreplaceable/ Beyonce 1,039,231 4 Ms. New Booty/ Bubba Sparxxx 455,550
5 We Fly High/ Jim Jones 1,012,949 5 Laffy Taffy/ D4L 367,106
6 Money Maker/ Ludacris 944,581 6 Pink Panther/ Theme 347,217
7 Chain Hang Low/ Jibbs 927,899 7 Gold Diger/ Kanye West 310,763
8 My Love/ Justin Timberlake 901,369 8 Halloween/ Movie Theme 291,077
9 I Wanna Love You/ Akon 884,912 9 Mission Impossible/ Theme 284,335
10. Walk It Out/ DJ Unk 753,487 10. Candy Shop/ 50 Cent 282,203