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...

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Chris Rock On The Music Business

Chris Rock: Music kind of sucks. Nobody's into being a musician. Everybody's getting their mogul on. You've been so infiltrated by this corporate mentality that all the time you'd spend getting great songs together, you're busy doing nine other things that have nothing to do with art. You know how shitty Stevie Wonder's songs would have been if he had to run a fuckin' clothing company and a cologne line?

RollingStone: Plenty of rappers say, "I'm not a rapper, I'm a businessman."

Chris Rock: That's why rap sucks, for the most part. Not all rap, but as an art form it's just not at its best moment. Sammy the Bull would have made a shitty album. And I don't really have a desire to hear Warren Buffett's album - or the new CD by Paul Allen. That's what everybody's aspiring to be.

We live in a weird time. No one knows who's smart - we just know who makes money. "Hey, somebody invented Viagra! We don't know their name, but we know Pfizer, because they make the money." That guy made a pill that keeps your dick hard, and nobody knows who the fuck he is. The pharmaceutical companies are like fuckin' record companies. There's literally the Bo Diddley of medicine walking around, not getting his royalties. He signed all his fucking pill publishing away.

("Rolling Stone", Issue 1039, November 15, 2007, page 157)


One of my favorite quotes about the movie business comes from Lynda Obst's book, "Hello, He Lied":

"If the writer gives good meeting, he's a lousy writer."

If the musician is a good businessman, he's a shitty musician. Sure, there are exceptions. Supposedly Steve Miller. But this rule runs pretty true. Which is why something resembling a record company is going to be necessary in the future. Musicians make the music, someone needs to sell it.

Right now the major labels are so busy fighting for their lives that they're offering unreasonable deals to acts. Sure, take a piece of my touring and merch, but let's be in it together! Let's have a joint venture, sharing profits 50/50. But the majors don't want to do this. They want the old heinous royalty terms PLUS a share of your income. So, any act with a reasonable manager, or an already established career, is saying no. So, the major labels are declining in power and influence. But just like Microsoft took over from IBM, new entities will emerge. And they will be run by people of the younger generation, with wholly different values from the baby boomers and Generation X.

Despite what you read in the press, the under twenty five set is willing to work, and hard. They want profits, but they play fair. Digits don't lie. The key is to make sure the digits fall your way. This is the opposite of music business history, which is all about payoffs and screwing artists.

iTunes artist royalties must be higher. Much higher. Careers must be primary rather than short term revenue. The businessmen must be on the side of the acts. Which hasn't been the case for eons. Even attorneys side with the majors, after all, that's who ultimately pays them.

Will it be a manager, or an indie label or a concert promoter...

Probably all of these things! The new entity will be low on infrastructure, but will play on every front.

But it all comes down to the music. You have to create something that truly moves people, that gets inside their brains. They're interested in how rich you are, but not as much as how you hurt, how you feel. That's the essence of music, feeling. The feeling's been eviscerated.

Once again, if you want truth you've got to listen to an outsider, a comedian. We all know Chris Rock's truth delineated above. But if you're white and you say it, you're a racist. Not that white music is much better. Rap was the last rock and roll, new and dangerous. Whereas rock has been sold-out for decades. You've got to take chances to create something great. If you're not willing to risk, get out of the way.

And if you're impressed by the bucks, then I guess you'd marry for money. Oh, that's right, you believe in love. And so does everybody else. We want to love our bands, and their music. But they must be lovable! And what makes us lovable is our imperfections. Not laser-sculptured bodies, but rough edges. Which is why Jessica Simpson can barely sell a concert ticket and Neil Young can sell thousands of ducats forty years later. It's about the essence, not the sheen. It's about truth, not phoniness. It's about being unique, an individual. Artists are supposed to be separate from businessmen, wary of their methods. When the two merge, you get shitty art. Like we've got today.

Art must be beholden only to the creator's conscience. It must be made out of pure desire. It must possess the essence of human life...truth, justice and HONESTY!


Blogger Keenan Baxter said...

Amen, that's why I'm in the music business, why I got started, and why I'm in this till the end. There's no other choice, when it's in your heart and soul.
Keenan Baxter

8:08 AM  
Blogger ChicaGOrilla said...

Well spoke

9:40 AM  

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