Monday, July 14, 2008

Why Being Commercial Is HOOD!!!

I haven't written anything in a while and I have to do something fast... I love learning and I am always soaking up new information... Here is something I came across and I am sharing with y'all... Everybody will learn something today...


The music industry is dead, and the how come doesn't matter. The question now is what next? How does an artist eat in an environment like this where record sales have dropped 20% since last year?

For rock bands, touring and merchandising will become more important than ever. Eventually they will be begging you to download their music for free, as long as you promise to pay 50 in damage for the live show and cop a T-shirt on your way out.

Rap acts though don't tour too tough. However, compared to the rockers, emcees are better suited to survive this new industry fallout. Ever since Diddy declared that anyone who questions how a rapper makes money is a "player hater", it's been open season for even the most indie leaning emcee to appear in commercials and have his own sneaker. Muscicians in other genres have to walk a fine line of art and commerce so they don't offend their fanbase. However, in hip-hop, the number of endorsements you score is part of your marketing plan.

Now, some see this and think there is too much commercialism in hip-hop. Me? I don't think there is enough.

From Sprite to Scion I see corporate sponsors as the new (or the first?) patrons of hip-hop. Back in the day, before recorded music and record labels, musical masters relied on patrons to front them while they made their art. In return for their investment, the wealthy patrons gained a higher social status by being linked to the incredible artists they fronted. Also, they would retain the artist to perform at their parties and write special dedications for themselves or family.

Now, doesn't that sound like how Reebok paid for the pairing of 50 Cent and Jay-Z or how Boost Mobile did the same with Kanye, Ludacris, and The Game?

I'm not mad at any of those examples, because despite the money that's flowing I think hip-hop does a good job of holding to two rules that makes sure the commerce doesn't harm the art:

Rule # 1. Commercials are clearly commercials. Sprite has never tried to pass off one of their famous freestyle spots as an authentic, spontaneous, off-the-top endorsement by a rapper.

Rule # 2. Art is clearly art. When Busta told Pharrell to "Pass the Courvoisier", I don't think he was considering a deal with that liquor brand, even if one came after the fact. He name dropped because it sounded hot, and that's it.

The only pass a rapper can get on rule #2 is if he owns the product he's pushing. Self-promotion is straight hip-hop.

I'm impressed with emcees like 50 Cent who has been able to remain independent and relevant and dangerous with his left hand, yet snatch coin from corporate America with his right. As 50 himself admitted in a Vibe Magazine interview, when asked about declining music sales industry wide, he said he doesn't care if less people buy the record, as long as they buy his clothing, vitamin water, videos game, and movies. 50 is in the business of selling a lifestlye, with music as the bait, a trick that Diddy and Jay-Z learned long ago.

That's the future now of the music business, and I think hip-hop will prosper in it.

UPDATE: Minutes after I published this post, I saw this article on Billboard about the touring boom:

"Pretty much any way you crunch the numbers, the concert industry kicked serious butt in 2006. Both dollars and attendance reported to Billboard Boxscore this year were at all-time highs. "


Not much... This is what I have been telling people and artists for the longest. I t only makes sense, if you cant sell one thing then you move on to the next... If chocolate chip isn't selling, push the peanut butter and sugar cookies... I already know. Now the next thing is, making music that the mass people will want to commit to. We have to make music that will change people's lives... make them think, get them outside of their real life if they visit your concert... or wear your clothing...

If you look around, the biggest concerts and tours are from the great artists that are doing something different... You don't see artists like Rick Ross selling out too many tours like Jay Z or Kanye? Rick Ross is one of the hottest artists right now, but is he selling out shows? Kanye sells a lifestyle, Rick Ross sells dope... both artists sell alot of records in there first week... Kanyne sells more, has more imitations, has longer lasting music and sells out shows and other things... Not too many artists have been able to do this as well as Kanye lately... not since Jay Z really if I think about it... We have had artists coming close, Ludacris, Lil Jon, Nelly and somewhat Paul Wall... but there has always been something kind of blocking them...

Like I mentioned Paul Wall, you don't have to be an awesome lyricist to accomplish this goal... just learn how to get to the people and sell a complete lifestyle... He had the grills, the drank... being white probably helped... the only thing lacking after awhile was the music... the second album was wack... but Paul Wall knew how to get at the people... that prob why the call him the People's Champ...

I know how to do this in my mind and I'm going to do it... I'm going to be one of the first commercial A&Rs... Unless Sicamore or MempHitz steal my idea and try it first... which is why I cant tell y'all my ideas.... y'all just have to keep rooting for me till I make it to the top of the industry and show everyone what I can do... I'm coming... and if you are one of my artists or you plan on working with me... read this, because I have a method to accomplishing this... Ring tones, shirts, getting the music just right... and everything... I'm telling you, being commercial is hood... only rich people have Ti-Vo and all the poor hood people are left watching commercials, might as well give us a salesman we can relate to...

I'm "Mr. Qualified"... what did you expect? Holla back on what you think... I also have some production for sale on the low, tell somebody with a microphone... interviews coming back soon too... One million to whoever gets me Sicamore or MempHitz for an interview... Especially Sicamore... Did y'all know he manages Nikki Minaj? I love that girl... But not more than I love my wife... But even my wife knows what it is... she needs to come work with me...

MORE INFO ON THE ABOVE POST: (read the comments if you want to know what other people have to say about this... lets get my comments like that...)

a random comment: I couldn't personally disagree more with this blog. If you are a philanthropist of hop music, then you would appreciate the monetary rewards the commercialize has reaped over the past 2 decades. However, and a big however, if you are a fan of the music, you will recognize the large thumb placed down on artists to sell to a constantly broadening fanbase. This means compromising your original intentions if it sells less. It is no less equal to government censorship of CD sales. Besides the parental advisory sticker, the single off many best-selling albums have remained censored to increase radio play, which not only gives fans a chance to play fill in the blank for an eternity, but jeopardizes the passion of the artist for allowing his work to be censored. You would only be trying just hard enough to live with yourself if you enjoy commercial hip hop. Financial success has never equated to cultural and creative success. Children in India who love 50 Cent will never buy a vitamin water, most likely because it isn't sold in areas where income is so low. Personally, I make music and listen to music because I love it, and if the financial reward becomes great, even better, but if not, I'll be buried in the same ground as Tupac and the Notorious B.I.G, and we can discuss it further from there. Thanks and check the

-Ghost Da Hustla