The establishment of one of the most influential independent (referred to as Indies) labels shed a picture on the evident control money and muscle affords he parent companies (I. E. The major label). The musical expression and the business behind the release of such prove to be as crippling to contractors (I. E. Artist/performers) as many of them in modern day are translating through their music, actions, and social media platforms.
The file in suit actions of management isn’t only crippling to contractors but also to the independent label itself and the consumers. Out of the many established Indies labels, I decided to research a trailblazer label in one of my favorite genres of music: Hip Hop. It only made sense to research Deft Jam Recordings. In respect to the core of a Hip Hop song (I. E. Verses that are often measured by “16 bars”), paired with the wow-factor of the artist (I. E. The lyrics), I respectfully assign the pseudonym 16 Lyrics for Deft Jam throughout the duration of this paper.
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As Hip Hop appreciators and fans, when we reflect on the music of Run DIM, AL Cool J, Beastie Boys, Public Enemy and Jay-Z to name a few, we must recognize the vehicle in which these artist used to jumpstarted their careers was 16 Lyrics. In 1 982, Rubin was a college student at NY U, studying music. He would DC and record local artist using Deft Jam as his audio name. Since 1981, Simmons had been managing his rapping brother, Joseph Simmons aka “Rev Run” and his group known as Run DIM, through his management company Rush Management.
Rubin had admiration for Run DIM and wanted to get them on a track that he produced. A chanced meeting with Russell and Rubin went well enough for both of them to want to go into partnership. Despite the buzz of the Indies label based in Englewood New Jersey, Sugar Hill, 16 Lyrics would grow to be considered innovators of the music genre. 16 Lyrics made its debut in 1984. Early operations of 16 iris were out of Robin’s Weinstein dorm room at NOISY, located at 5 university Place, New York, NY 10003. It was in Robin’s dorm room that business meetings took place and many of songs were recorded.
The first record produced and bared the company logo on the record was “It’s Yours” by T La Rock and Jazzy Jay and was released on January 28, 1984 (One, 2014). The local success of the record only sparked the desire of Rubin and Simmons to capture more exposure of the label and work of artist as well as more capital to build accordingly. After a few meetings and actions taken to prove o a major label that 16 Lyrics would offer just as much to them as the major label would offer to 16 Lyrics resulted in “the most lucrative of all custom deals between an Indies and major (Grasses, 2005) ever.
Major label, CBS, which served as the distributor of Columbia, inked a deal with 16 Lyrics “in September of 1 985” (Grasses, 2005, p 1157). For the first few years, 16 Lyrics really only had a staff of employees and would often depend on contractors (their music artist) to not only record but also help in the officer often taking on the responsibilities of a secretary or administration assistant, Nanning the phones and so forth. Problem Statement 16 Lyrics involvement with a major record label may have given the Indies label financial backing but put them in an unfavorable position as it relates to profits most importantly.
Aside from the profits, the workload of the 16 Lyrics was still high and in demand, even with what seemed to be an army of support behind them. Having the backing of a major label was and still is highly valuable if an independent label and or music artist desires national and or international exposure. “Distribution was the best way in the eighties o launch an artist” (Grasses, 2005, p 1210). The deal with CBS required that 16 Lyrics recruit a certain amount of artist, promote and advertise at ground level, practice budget control, and accept a 14 point (1 4 %) royalty on the retail value of albums sold.
CBS showed muscle by having the right to give a final approval of all contractors selected to represent 16 Lyrics, had ultimate control of the operations of the Indies label (despite the partnership painting Of a picture Of freedom), and obtain ownership Of all the recorded masters Of 16 Lyrics contracted artist. The downside of this contract between 16 Lyrics and CBS, is the favorable position CBS appears to have over 16 Lyrics by minimizing the profits and control of the smaller independent label. The agreed upon underlining thought of this partnership consisted of crossover of the music genre of Hip Hop with the music genre of pop.
By accomplishing this goal, it would seem as if both labels win. The disheartening reality was that Hip Hop had yet to be promoted and advertised by a major label during this time. During the ass’s, this mesh of music was unheard of and considered to be a large risk. Although, the risk was projected to be worth taking by CBS and 16 Lyrics, lack of experience and knowledge required to achieve this goal both effectively and efficiently was immeasurable. Thus, resulting in much of the business practice of 1 6 Lyrics being subpart.
Inking a deal with CBS was believed by executives to enable 16 Lyrics access to both the national and international distribution granted “mainly for Columbia releases” (Disco’s, n. D. ). However, “It seemed that outside of the United States, CBS did not take care to make “16 Lyrics” visible” (Grasses, 2005, p 1546). Literature Review & Analysis Universal Music Group (MUG) is the current parent company/ major label to 16 Lyrics. Understand that made a harsh accusation about the major labels being controlling and monopolizing the industry’ in addition to executives being greedy.
In the MUG overview it reads, “The recorded music business discovers and develops recording artist and then markets and promotes their music across a wide array of formats and platforms” (MUG, n. D. ). Let us assume that this statement (or something similar) has been used across the industry for some time by major labels. This assumption wouldn’t be too far stretch, considering the opinion of grass-root employee of 16 Lyrics, Stacy Grasses, referring to major labels as an “intricate structure… Which consisted of ten major departments that made sure records were sold: A; Sales; Marketing; promotion; Product Management; Artist Development; Production; Finance; Business/Legal; and International” (Grasses, 2005, p 1 165-1174) mimicking services that MUG offer. Trusting the several departments of one company is relinquishing much control, wouldn’t agree? If not, a bill, entitled the Local Radio Freedom Act as presented to the House of Representatives as recent as February 2013.
A summary of the concurrent resolution is as follows: Whereas the United States enjoys broadcasting and sound recording industries that are the envy of the world, due to the symbiotic relationship that has existed among these industries for many decades; Whereas for more than 80 years, Congress has rejected repeated calls by the recording industry to impose a performance fee on local radio stations for simply playing implies on the radio and upsetting the mutually beneficial relationship between local radio and the recording industry;
Whereas local radio stations provide free publicity and promotion to the recording industry and performers of music in the form of radio air play, interviews with performers, introduction of new performers, concert promotions, and publicity that promotes the sale of music, concert tickets, ring tones, music videos and associated merchandise; Whereas Congress found that the sale of many sound recordings and the careers of many performers benefited considerably from airplay and other promotional activities provided by both noncommercial and advertiser- supported, free over-the-air broadcasting’; 201 3) Library of Congress, The ownership of masters of the music is also a clear indicator that there is a desire of major labels to continuously attempt to capitalize off artist and the various Indies record labels they control. Flogger, Asterism, posted on recording. Org owning the masters to recordings means “owning the copyright of a song, receiving performance / mechanical royalties, and controlling points on a record deal” (Asterism, 2007). MUG adds that when it comes to music catalog management, Mum (Universal Music Enterprises – which manages its music catalog “of masters”) “acts as a service center adding value wrought marketing initiatives and coordination of commercial issues through local and international markets” (MUG, n. D. ).
Online forum participant, Christian, gave a great example of the breakdown of a song getting played in a TV commercial and a purchase of a single off tunes: The master is an asset which can be bought/sold/licensed/borrowed against. A good example is when a song gets used in a n. ‘ commercial. Assuming a $ask deal, Who gets paid? 1. Songwriter ($k) 2. Publisher ($k) 3. Owner of the master ($ask) The artist may or may not be entitled to a small piece, somewhere in the neighborhood of $500. Another example: tunes $. 99 download $. 30 – tunes $. 10 – songwriter/publisher ($. 05 each) $. 06 – artist royalty of . $70) $. 53 – Owner of the master (Christian, 2011).
The perceived imbalance of this partnership bearing obvious structure/ culture differences identified, raises a great deal of concern for 16 Lyrics success as an Indies label in the music business. I would be remiss to not question if 1 6 Lyrics would have practiced TTS (total quality management) in some way, would 16 Lyrics have gained more control Of their business resulting in more power for their label? Though much dense and vague information is available, information I was able to retrieve left me with a strong sense of successful control and monopolizing on behalf of major labels. Unfortunately, 16 Lyrics appears to have been shortchanged in the beginning despite their overall success that looks good in print.
Recommendations Despite this identified issues, I honestly believe that knowledge of quality management could have afforded the owners of 16 Lyrics a higher profit margin, an increase in rights, better management efforts, and a better business deal that could have at least somewhat leveled the responsibility of al parties involved in the partnership. One of the principles would have suggested to Simmons and Rubin prior to signing with a major label would have been to thoroughly understand and utilized simple lean principles. By doing so, they could have possibly fine-tuned 16 Lyrics definition of quality (T CO A); measure approach techniques, monitor results and compose action plans (TCO B); and could walked into the CBS office with a better understanding of the new product development process (TCO C).
The five step process to implementing lean techniques includes identifying value, aping the value stream, creating a flow, establishing a pull and then seeking perfection in the last step. After signing partnership with CBS, I recommend that management display a customer focus and use of the NAPS metric by information gathered from both a purchase analysis and new product concept survey should have been used. Doing so would have afforded 16 Lyrics to measure overall satisfaction with music offering/ performances they offer and measure the likelihood of their future actions in support of contracted artist (TCO E). These actions would have either defined r solidified quality defined by Rubin and Simmons.
At every performance/ appearance Of Run DIM or any artist managed by Simmons, a survey should have been distributed and collected. During the eighties, we weren’t living in a tech age but to get a large response was still possible. To map of the value stream, now including the end user, creativity would have had to lead the way. Possibly the insertion of a survey in each album instructing consumers to give honest feedback by either mailing the survey to fan mail or dropping it off at a few different record stores to enter a drawing for a free ticket to the ext show or something. Then measure the responses of prospective concepts for the new sound of Hip Hop.
This would possibly have been a task built for Rubin. Remember that artist, although contract workers, are also customers in their own right. They come to the studio and pay for studio time or even just the beat. Introducing them to snippets of the future of the Hip Hop sound and recording their response could have assisted in not only creating a flow but also establishing a pull. The bigger picture implementing lean techniques is to paint the picture of perfect value. Knowing what internal ND external customers want in addition to a feel for how receptive both parties will be to towards future plans could have been a plus for 16 Lyrics. The Lean Enterprise Institute, Inc. Once wrote, that when in the fifth stage of seeking perfection remember, “As value is specified, value streams are identified, wasted steps are removed, and flow and pull are introduced, begin the process again and continue it until a state of perfection is reached in which perfect value is created with no waste” (Lean Enterprise Institute, 2009). Reflection Completing this assignment has given me clarity in how I must approach the assign industry when am ready to launch my dream clothing line. I have had a little success with selling some of my hand painted one of-a kind clothing and accessory pieces to individuals and some small businesses in the past.
I only covered a small area and plan to return with mass production / print of my artwork and motivational phrases. Too, share that dream of Rubin and Simmons to gain more exposure and be able to have a further reach in addition to a partnership with a company much larger than my own. Yet, I must be prepared and not fall for the mistreatment to the smaller impasses. Having access to a large amount of money isn’t enough to bind the creative process and limit the profit of the creator in my opinion. As suggested for 16 Lyrics to do in the grassroots stage, coming in with results from my own research, confident and knowledgeable of my worth, and refusing to just settle for a deal just to have major backing is words that I will stick by.