I am going to start a series called “(Da) What’s on my Mind” and in this series I will just write about the music world and music business. I am not doing this to push my opinion onto other people but to hopefully start a discussion and hear other people’s thoughts on the subject. I am clearly not an expert on any aspect of music, so I am just giving my observations and asking questions. My first post will be on major record labels and more specifically Drake’s signing with Young Money.
Drake has a huge hit this year in “Best I Ever Had”, possibly one of the biggest in music in general and not just Hip Hop. In San Francisco, there was a while where it may be playing on all 3 “Urban” stations and would definitely be heard multiple times every hour. Given that success and the popularity of his mixtape “So Far Gone” he went ahead and signed with a label notorious for not releasing music. Young Money brings Lil’ Wayne’s name which does help, and in fact, had already because Weezy was featured numerous times on Drake’s tape. But we have already seen it with artists such as Curren$y where Young Money fails to capitalize on popularity and refuses release any album by an artist besides Wayne. Then as expected, Drake’s album received an early 2010 release date – that means that at the very earliest, it won’t be out for 4-5 months! It seems to me, that if I were Drake, before I signed with a label I would make sure my album was coming out next quarter/ASAP! Does he expect to keep the buzz he had from summer ‘09 all the way until spring ’10!? So now they are re-releasing “So Far Gone” without many of the songs because they are selling it and therefore would have to clear numerous samples. Their plan is to sell a mixtape that is free to download, legally! This just does not make sense to me on Drake’s part, I understand what YM is doing because they have always done it, but I cannot see why Drake would commit to his label. Drake even said it himself in his new song Forever, “labels want my name beside the X like Malcolm/ everybody got a deal, I did it without one.” So what has changed? I would love to hear other reasons that I have not thought of so please comment below, especially from those in the music game who may be independent or major.
I obviously do not understand all of the music business but it seems that many times the major record label holds back the artist. I know Rhymefest has been unable to release “El Che” because of a label, Curren$y left Young Money, Wiz Khalifa left Warner Brothers and B.o.B.’s album has stalled on his negotiating of a 360 deal*. On the other hand, there are huge pluses to being part of a major, like major distribution guaranteed, major publications receiving the album and all that other publicity. I also understand with the Internet, a record label is not AS necessary as it was in the 90s where distribution was near impossible. What do you guys think? What makes it worth it to sign with a major when you have the option and when is it too much?
*A 360 deal is one that would let the record company handle all aspects of his career including but not limited to merchandising and concerts on top of the album sales and distribution.