Now although the information I post under this category is really information you would have to pay for (by hiring a management or development person or paying for it in the way you spend all of your money before you learn it), I can’t stand to see people be stupid. I’m probably going to upset a few folks with this post because in the event aspiring recording artists actually read this, they may stop wasting money.
First, let’s break a few things down. Major record labels are your Def Jam, Sony, Atlantic, Etc. Independent labels are smaller versions of majors, independently owned/ operated and they actually turn a profit. An “indie label” is NOT a company that you and a few friends started and didn’t even follow through with the proper business end to make it an actual business. I’m explaining this because a lot of UNDERGROUND artists refer to themselves as indies. The word indie actually refers to a professional recording artist that is signed to an independent label. The misunderstanding of terms causes things like ten thousand people thinking their You Tube videos are going to be taken down because the article said “artists signed to independent labels” and they were referring to mainstream independent artists (i.e. Tech N9ne, Frank Ocean) not underground artists. Like with any career, it’s important that you know what you’re talking about for your own good and it’s extremely insulting to the folks who actually know what they’re doing. It’s like me showing up at the hospital to preform surgery because I can cut good with a butter knife.
“The Record Deal”- Please. This hardly happens at all since the game turned digital. NOBODY is “signing” any artist for a significant amount of money unless that artist is already making the kind of money that is worthy of that investment, The deal that some of you would be willing to sell your first born for tomorrow isn’t even what you think it is. A standard major label contract is 80/20 or 70/30. Meaning you get 20% or 30% the label gets the rest because they put up the money for your videos, hotel rooms, studio time, clothes, shows, rented cars, etc. They OWN YOU with these contracts. They own your stage name, social media, and dictate your sound, style, lyrics, and to top it all off if you refuse? They “shelf” you. That means they own you as the artist and they wait out your contract and you release no music until you fulfill what they are requiring or whoever you are as an artist is silent until that contract is over. Good luck being a new artist and not having anything in rotation for five years. The only time an artist can be the wealthy that most people dream about is when that person invests their money in other things or has major sponsors like Pepsi.
We could go in deeper but today I want to pull the curtains back on specifically the “Digital Distribution Deal”. In case you didn’t know ( and you SHOULD KNOW if you consider yourself an artist), the digital world is very underground /indie artist friendly. For under $200 you can get your music copy written, and distributed to all of the major electronic stores like iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, iHeartRadio, etc. There are plenty of sites (Tune Core, CD Baby, Band Camp) you can get your music out for very little money. What good does that do you? Absolutely nothing if you don’t have a fan base or to buy your music and a budget for promotion period point blank, end of story. Making music is not cheap and being successful in music costs lots of money. The digital world may make it look easy, but if it was? Don’t you think everybody would be driving around in a Mercedes?
There are different levels to the “Digital distribution Deal”. In most cases, you end up paying a record label to use their distribution account. They have the same exact “digital distribution” that you can get yourself. Most companies that offer this have an actual record label attached to it and you are paying to use their digital name. Meaning, I am a Hell Razah Music, Inc. artist. We could make Hell Razah Music Digital, charge you $1000 for our distribution through Hell Razah Music Digital (watch the word play, it looks the same but being signed to “digital” indicates you are not an actual label artist) and you are paying for our name so you can tell people you’re signed to Hell Razah Music Digital and whatever weight the name carries is what you’re paying for and we may even throw in logo use so you can deceive who is willing to be fooled that your deal is more then using our Tune Core account. Then, we also collect a percentage of your music sales as well as count the numbers of whatever units you moved towards our overall units moved for the year, then we as the actual label look much better to our investors because of the total number of units we moved. If we offered this deal to 50 people, we make $50k and if each person sells 100 units, we can add 5k units moved to our overall numbers as a label. Let that sink in and some of you may have to read it twice. Most “digital deals” are exactly this, a hustle and you my dear are the one being hustled because it’s cheaper to pay the fee and hope you are also buying buzz and fan base then to spend thousands of your own money the right way.
This is not all digital distributors just the majority. Most of these digital distributors do not offer any promotion or anything else with the “deal”. Some may actually include some type of promotion and that is an important thing you need to find out (NEVER sign anything without an Entertainment Attorney present, and yes that costs money too). In some cases you would be better off spending that thousand on your own digital distribution account and pouring the rest of the money into promotion. If you’ve ever seen a label and scratched your head when you saw their “artists” this is probably why. Just because someone has signed a digital distribution deal, does not in anyway, shape, or form mean they are “signed” to a label in the traditional sense you’re used to and a good deal of them? ARE PAYING TO WEAR THE LOGO.
The average person would have no idea that the logo above isn’t actually Def Jam. Def Jam Digital actually partnered with Tune Core for awhile a few years back, made Def Jam Island Digital and a few lucky folks got to pretend they were signed to Def Jam and made a few bucks. I’m familiar with this because a former mainstream artist tried to “help me” a few years back and told me that all I had to do was add Def Jam Island Digital to Battlegrownd Entertainment and I would be able to charge people for distribution. Too bad I’m not a person who robs people, I probably could have made a nice chunk of change 😉
Dr. G is a hip-hop producer from Manchester U.K, and has been working within the music industry since 1993 starting out as a D.J. He was also involved in club and events organising with SONY MUSIC Street Team and as a DEF JAM street team rep., organizing numerous events at the Manchester M.E.N such as Lauryan Hill, Destiny’s Child and Dead Prez. This position allowed him to enter a large celebrity circle meeting some of the industry greats; Eminem, Destiny’s Child, TQ, Common Sense, Xzibit, Wu Tang, Saigon, and Mohamed Ali.
Now producer for many English, American and Eastern European hip-hop artists from underground, old school, new school independent artists and some major emcees respectively. Spending countless days in the studio he realised this was the side of music he enjoyed most and spent most of his time working on mix tapes for local groups and artists such as artists such as Shotty Horror, Rokket, Meany, Omen RA, Hoodman (Tyler Daley) and HiJack Hood. While perfecting his style of production, by 2007 the release of “Above The Systematic Matrix” under revolutionary records featuring many of U.K and U.S artists, and then in 2008 released his debut solo and self-produced album Last Dayz featuring Shyheim finally giving him a starting point.
Later producing tracks for St. Laz, and Opium while being featured on many of their mix tapes and getting recognised by D.J Kay Slay on New York’s HOT 97 many times. HE then started gaining notoriety with other artists from around the boroughs working with artists such as: Shabazz the Disciple, Agallah Don Bishop, Chuck Burns, Rap P and more recently being involved with Hell Razah and his Ghetto Government movement producing most of his album which will be due out early next year. Additionally working with Inspectah Deck and Fes Taylor. While gaining popularity with artists further south such as Champ Rushmore, Poe Mack, and Crafsmen from V.A. and Diem, Ghost Dog (1100 Hunters), Chox (Chose) Mac and Joose Jones III from N.C. respectively.
Then reaching to the west coast working with Sony Bono, Twisted Insane then The Outlaws with production appearing on a couple of Outlaw mix tapes with Young Noble and D.J Outlaw and respected group members and affiliates like EDI Mean, Hussein Fatal, Yukmouth and Suicide Rue Have appeared on his production while getting the attention of Spice 1 and Eternal From The Killah Beez. Constantly adding to his roster of emcees, both old and new school, Dr. G is sure to start making big noise within the greater hip hop community.
Dr. G is an official Hell Razah Music, Inc. producer as well as the executive producer for the first Hell Razah presents Ghetto Govt Album. G is expected to drop A producer compilation album mid-late 2014 which will include music from Hell Razah, Hell Razah Music, Inc. Artists (GGO Ghetto Govt Officialz), Inspectah Deck, Outlawz, Hussein Fatal, & Many more.
QTP: Peace Fam! Wingz Up!
JUSTIS: Peace and blessings
QTP: For those that don’t know, talk a little about yourself and what it is that you do
JUSTIS: Peace, I wear quite a few hats most recently my focuses have been with promotions and project management/development. I promote products,events, artists mainly as well as assist with development of each. Im also involved with artist booking. I also co manage a few artists.
QTP: How long have you been with Wu-Tang Management?
JUSTIS: I have been with WTM officially for 4 years
QTP: Who are some of the artists you’ve worked with over the course of your career and who are you currently working with?
JUSTIS: Ive worked with Flo Rida, Beenie Man, Buju Banton, Sizzla, Capelton, DMX, basically Def Jam roster between 98-2001. So So Def, The Brat, Ying Yang Twins, The Wailers, Dead Prez, etc.Recently I have been working alot with some of the Wu Affiliates, Blue Raspberry, Cappadonna, Hell Razah, Buddha Monk, Kinetic 9, Eternal to name a few also Krumbsnatcha, Paparatzi, JonJon the Son along with a few others most currently
QTP: How did your career start?
JUSTIS: Well I started DJin professionally in 1996. From there I went on to intern with Def Jam and So So Def. I began promoting my own shows, parties etc after realizing that I was able to bring people out myself and avoid the promoters (middle men) and getting paid insufficiently after providing the bulk of the entertainment to the venue. While in college I also started working for a radio station (WVFS) which gave me a start in radio. I met alot of artists and people attached to the business side of the industry. I also got noticed by several artists for my ability to write and arrange music. I have since gone on to ghostwrite for a few artists.
QTP: When did you first meet Razah?
JUSTIS: LOL…Well I originally met Razah in Atlanta sometime in the late 90s. We spoke briefly and didnt speak again until last year sometime when we were reintroduced via family…
QTP: How did you get involved with Ghetto Govt?
JUSTIS: Well Ive always had an extremely high regard for Razah as one of my favorite MCs within the Wu and generally speaking. Before we could meet again I was actively promoting his Heaven Razah album and providing placements for his releases. After speaking for sometime he acknowledged my work and ask me to come on board and assist with some projects.
QTP: What were some of the most memorable things you’ve done over the course of your career?
JUSTIS: As a DJ spinning for an audience of over 10,000 at Atlanta’s Tri state party! The energy was crazy and to this the idea of making thousands of people move at my command is exhilerating. Working with the legendary Wailers (Bob Marley’s band) nuff said thats just history. Getting a check for writing a record. Im proud of that considering I dont consider myself an artist yet Ive gotten paid for making music. My biggest accomplishments are still to come really but Im most proud of those accomplishments to date..
QTP: What projects are you working on right now both music & otherwise?
JUSTIS: Other than working with artists and promotions/development of their projects and brands. Im working with Krumbsnatcha to build our label Mind Power. We will be developing books, clothing, film and more under the imprint as well as grooming new artist. I am active with Wu Radio, Wu Worldwide DJ Coalition and Wu Tang Management and the development of ventures under that banner. I have 2 books ive written and im wrapping up the final edits and moving forward to the publishing phase. I also look forward to attending law school in the near future. Music is great but I have many more aspects of life to focus on in the future.
QTP: You’ve worked with some of the greatest emcees ever to touch a mic, do you have any advice or tips for new and upcoming artists that you can share?
JUSTIS: Work. Nothing happens over night. You must invest in yourself or no one else will. Stay focused. Stay consistent. Be humble.
QTP: Anything else you want folks to know?
JUSTIS: Im here to work and assist those who are ready. This is a business and people tend to forget that but its not always about monetary transfer. Relationships are the most important thing to me. I got a real story to tell as far as music is concerned and life in general. Before its all said and done I will tell my story. Im actually planning to step out of my “box” and challenge myself creatively to build a project that will help tell my story…Universal peace and blessings to everyone…