38 posts categorized "Music Business"

September 04, 2010

Jake One Recalls His Rise To Success

Emerging Beatmaster Talks Shop With Grind Music Radio

By Amir Said (Sa'id)

Jake One is one of the illest beatmakers (producers) currently on the scene. Five years ago, his work with 50 Cent and subsequent connection with Sha Money XL put him on the map, and he hasn't turned back since. In this interview with Grind Music Radio, Jake discusses his first sold beat, co-credit production, his top five beatmakers, and more.

For educational purposes...

J O pt1 (Jake One)

J O pt2 (Jake One)

August 27, 2010

Rsonist of The Heatmakerz Gives "360" Look at State of Music Industry

Sobering Talk About The Music Business

By Amir Said (Sa'id)

Rsonist, 1/2 of The Heatmakerz, gives a very straightforward glimpse at how the sales struggles of the music industry have created an environment that's difficult for recording artists to succeed. All the more reason why beatmakers need to increase their position and value.

For educational purposes...

August 18, 2010

Was Dr. Dre Right About Hip Hop And Its Future?

Hip Hop/Rap Production Icon Gives His Perspective On The "Future" of Hip Hop/Rap...10 Years Ago"

By Amir Said (Sa'id)

Dr. Dre's musical intuition has never been questioned. In fact, his musical instincts have long been praised by most. But what about is intuition on the future of hip hop/rap music? Well, in the 1/2-hr-long video below (recorded in 1997), Dr. Dre touches on a number of topics, and gives his thoughts on where hip hop/rap "will be in the future;" which, in this case, would be after 2007.

Dr. Dre Interview - Part 1

Dr. Dre Interview - Part 2

Dr. Dre Inteview - Part 3

August 14, 2010

Bob James Says Sampling, In Some Cases, Is The Best Of All Possible Worlds

Famed Jazz Fusion Artist And Sampling Mainstay, Discusses His Views On The Art Of Sampling In Hip Hop/Rap Music

By Amir Said (Sa'id)

I've been diggin' thru and for records since I was a little kid. My parents, like most (if not all) other black urban dwellers of the late 1970s and early 1980s, had a quality vinyl record collection. And since my mother was an avid Motown fan and my father a strong Stax supporter, their collection—together—was massive. Indeed, when I became conscious of "diggin' in the crates," I went about packing their collection into separate milk crates. Total count of milk crates from that weekend? 15.

Even though I had thought that I was a kind of a serious digger, I really wasn't. But when I turned 19, and started actually listening to ALL of the records in my parents collection, I realized that I had a hunger for more. And thus, began my first real trips to used vinyl stores, Salvation Army stores, Goodwill stores, garage sells, and vinyl record conventions. And early on, there was one record that I felt I had to have: Bob James' One.

Bob James's music has been sampled by a bevy of beatmakers, and one song in particular, "Nautilus," has received a number of dope transformations. So for me, any interview with Bob James—a musician I truly admire—is well worth watching. But a Bob James interview in which he (1) reconciles his views on the art of sampling in hip hop/rap; (2) discusses sampling in a creative context; and (3) sheds light on how he structured his record contracts, after his departure from the CTI label? Aw, man, that's absolutely priceless!

For educational purposes...

Bob James Interview (via Mixery Raw Deluxe)

For educational purposes...

Bob James - "Nautilus" (from the album One, (1974)

August 08, 2010

Pharrell Scores 'Despicable Me'

Acclaimed Beatmaker Translates Skills To Film

By Amir Said (Sa'id)

Don’t know if Pharrell has scored the entire film, but I'm very impressed with his involvement with the film, no less. Such moves bodes well for other film scoring possibilities for more beatmakers.

For educational purposes...

Despicable Me Featurette - "Music of Despicable Me" (Pharrell Scores Film)

August 07, 2010

Jerry Wexler, How Quiet the Loudest Drumers Go

Remembering A Music Critic Turned Music-Maker

By Amir Said (Sa'id)

Naturally, I favor critics who can actually excel in the field in which they criticize. Such is the case of the late Jerry Wexler, a former music journalist who went from covering music to making music. Wexler didn't play sax or piano; he didn't play drums or guitar; but he made music still the same.

As a co-owner of Atlantic Records (before the big conglomerate sell-off), Jerry Wexler didn't just peruse financial statements like many of today's label execs; on the contrary, he participated wholeheartedly in the music process. During his tenure at Atlantic records, Wexler (along with partner and Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun), signed and produced a wide range of recording acts, including most influential to me, Aretha Franklin and Led Zeppelin. Though he's probably most well-known for his work with Aretha Franklin (he produced 14 hit albums for her between 1967 and 1975), and Ray Charles, there are two other contributions that Jerry Wexler made that are equally if not even more impressive.

A little-known bit of trivia is the fact that it was Jerry Wexler who coined the term "Rhythm & Blues" (R&B). Before this, this deeply rich, inviting blues-based music was commonly known as "Race Records." Wexler's coinage helped project a level of dignity over an important lesser known black music, in a time steep with racism and cultural oppression. Another little-known fact is Jerry Wexler's involvement with seminal soul recording label Stax Records, the nurturing home of the likes of Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, Al Bell, and Booker T. & the M.G.s. More specifically, Jerry Wexler played a pivotal role in the development of one of the best soul rhythm sections of all time, the Muscle Shoals rhythm section.



Jerry Wexler and Wilson Pickett



Aretha Franklin and Jerry Wexler



Led Zeppelin and Jerry Wexler



Jerry Wexler

August 03, 2010

Gamble & Huff Break Down Realities Of Recording Industry, Give Advice To New Producers

Iconic Producers Stress The Importance Of Getting The Right Information

By Amir Said (Sa'id)

Gamble & Huff (Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff) were two of the most prolific music producers in the history of twentieth-century American popular music. Through their own label, Philadelphia International, Gamble & Huff orchestrated and personified the mighty soul sound known as the "Philly Sound."

In 1971, Gamble & Huff started Philadelphia International Records. Throughout the balance of the 1970s, the pair worked jointly on songwriting and production for many of the biggest soul recording artists of the era. In their prime, you could stick any artist with Gamble & Huff, and it was a guarantee that that artist would improve 100% fold! When they produced for an artist, they didn’t just rent out their sound, like many of today’s prominent hip hop/rap production teams. On the contrary, Gamble & Huff lent their sound to an artist, and asked that artist to simply enhance it.

The team put together by Gamble & Huff also included arrangers Thom Bell (who grew up with Gamble in the same neighborhood) and Bobby Martin. And like Motown’s Funk Brothers, Philadelphia International Records’ house band, MFSB, (a rough-city group made up of Philly veteran studio session and road players), kept Gamble & Huff’s signature sound steady and ready with smooth time, velvet harmonies, and pulsating rhythm.

In the following video, Gamble & Huff press upon viewers the absolute importance of seeking out and getting the "right information." They also contrast situations of their era with this one, and offer up their theories as to why producers/recording artists of today are less or more likely to be successful.

For educational purposes...

Gamble & Huff Give Advice to New Producers (via Nodfactor.com)

August 01, 2010

Showbiz Drops Jewels, Plays Songs From 'Godsville'

Beatmaking Pioneer Premiers New Cuts And Offers Timeless Advice To Beatmakers

By Amir Said (Sa'id)

A couple of weeks ago, I went to a listening party for DJ Muggs and Ill Bill's new album, Kill Devil Hills. The event, which was held at DJ Premier's studio, HeadQcourterz, was decent. Much of what I heard off of Kill Devil Hills was dope, especially "Chase Manhattan" f/ Raekwon. But for me, one of the biggest highlights of the night was building with beatmaking pioneer Showbiz (of Showbiz & AG fame).

After all the songs had been played from Kill Devil Hills, and after the invited music press had asked their questions, I sat down with Showbiz and got to build with him, and listened to a number of songs from Godsville, his upcoming album with KRS-One. Comprised of beats made up entirely by Showbiz, the album—from the five or so songs that I heard—is shaping up to be a solid project. After discussing the songs, and of course, beats, I gave Show my opinion on the joints that I heard; I even strongly recommended which cut he should go with as the lead single.

A couple of days after the listening party (and impromptu listening session), I came across this video of Showbiz premiering some of the same songs as well offering advice for beatmakers, in particular, the importance of developing your own signature sound and putting in significant time practicing your skills.

For educational purposes...

SHOWBIZ AND KRS ONE "GODSVILLE" pt 2 (via A/V PRENEURS)

July 26, 2010

Have You Heard It On The Radio?

Radio's Not "The Radio" Anymore; Choice And Variety Has Done Away With The Old Model

By Amir Said (Sa'id)

In case you haven't noticed, radio broadcasting is increasingly losing its influence over the general public's music listening (and buying) decisions. In his rather organic and illuminating study, author and Wired Magazine Editor-in-Chief Chris Anderson notes that "in 1993, Americans spent an average of twenty-three hours and fifteen minutes per week tuned in to the radio;" and that by the spring of 2004, that figure "had dropped to nineteen hours and forty-five minutes" (a 15% decline), bringing traditional radio listenership to a "twenty-seven year low." To be certain, traditional radio listenership continues to spiral downward. In fact, if the current rate of decline simply holds up, 2009 will show an 8% decrease in traditional radio listenership. This means that since 1993, there will have been at least a 25% nosedive in traditional radio listenership—a rather precipitous drop, to say the least.

Where Have All the Traditional Radio Listeners Gone and Why

There are many reasons why radio listenership continues to decline at such a rapid pace. Radio behemoth Clear Channel and its one-size-fits-all radio centralization—what Anderson rightfully regards as Clear Channel's bland homogenization—has indeed played a role. And we can not overlook the fact that the increasing lack of artistry found in the music industry-pushed "hits" has also prodded some music listeners away from the radio. But these factors represent the under card. The main event—if you will—is choice and variety.

Remember when we "heard it on the radio?" Well, yeah, that was back when we really had no choice. Let's remember: Traditional radio represents the old “hit” music model of narrow choice and low variety; no choice or variety meant that you had to listen to the radio and whatever traditional media deemed as a hit. But the web age has truly brought more choice and variety through a myriad of more music listening options. With the expansion and popularity of the internet as well as the advent of the must-have iPod and other MP3 players, many traditional radio listeners peeled away from the radio and moved towards those options that, in effect, allowed them to be their own personal radio programmers.

So Who’s still listening to the radio?

Whether due to unchecked arrogance or denial, broadcast radio culture has failed to see the writing on the wall. Indeed, instead of opening up their programming and shifting to a more variety-based structure, radio stations (particularly in the urban market) are pairing down their playlists, essentially walling them off from the threat of any real variety. So entrenched is this culture that many of the same household radio personalities from 1993 are still on the radio in the same regional markets. This certainly begs the question, How can the very people who have been behind the wheel during the decline in radio listenership still be given the keys to drive broadcast radio towards new horizons? The answer, of course, is: They can't!

In fact, I would argue that many of these held-over radio personalities have been left in place just to cater to those music listeners who have yet to escape the traditional radio programming model. After all, if there is as much as 75% of the once-mighty radio listenership, one can understand why the grand old music industry is still supporting the old radio model. For the music industry—which is seemingly dedicated to bleeding manufactured formulas dry—is always the last to know when something new has emerged, and when something old has died.


(1) Anderson, Chris, The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More, (New York: Hyperion, 2006), 35.

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The BeatTips Manual by Sa'id.
"The most trusted source for information on beatmaking and hip hop/rap music education."

June 28, 2010

Should You Tag Your Beats?

Beat-Jacking Concerns Shouldn't Take Away from the Experience of Your Music

By Amir Said (Sa'id)


Here's my suggestion regarding beat-tagging: NEVER, EVER, EVER tag your beats!
Beat tags put off too many people—A&Rs don't like it, and inquiring rappers hate it because they can't really dig in and write to the beat as soon as they get it.

And think about it: When it comes down to it, a beat tag is really a marketing tool; it's a means for a beatmaker to let it be known that they were responsible for the creation of the beat. However, a beatmaker's stamp of authorship should be their music itself, not a vocal tag that streams in and out of their music, with no real purpose other than to advertise that they are indeed the beatmaker of record.

The biggest argument for tagging beats on the grounds of beat-jacking is a weak one. Beats get jacked and/or "borrowed!" That's nothing new; the digital era just made the practice of beat-jacking faster, easier, and more efficient. And if you haven't noticed, there's a lot of "dry" beat-jacking going on right now, anyway. If you didn' already know, perhaps it should be remembered that "biting" another beatmaker's style and soound is also a form of beat-jacking, albeit indirectly. Moreover, if you're an unknown beatmaker with quality production, then getting a beat jacked isn't as bad as you may think.

If your beat gets jacked and someone tries to use it on an RIAA sanctioned commercial release, the paperwork (proper credits and such) will be scrutinized, which means that in the event that your beat gets jacked and makes it on to an officially released album (not a mix tape), then your chances of recourse for filing suit and/or getting the "right attention from the right people" is excellent. That is, provided you have the original data (files, etc.) for the beat in question. Plus, if you register your music with a performance rights society, such as ASCAP or BMI, you'll have much better legal protection than a mere vocal tag.

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The BeatTips Manual by Sa'id.
"The most trusted source for information on beatmaking and hip hop/rap music education."

Dedicated to exploring the art of beatmaking in all of its glory.

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  • Top 5 Myths About Sampling and Copyright Law


    "Sampling is piracy."
    WRONG! Piracy describes the wholesale, verbatim copying and distribution of copyrighted works. That is not sampling; that's something entirely different.
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    WRONG! Under existing copyright law, there is no clear, predetermined length (amount in seconds) that is “legally” permissible to sample.
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    "If you use samples on a free mixtape, it’s perfectly O.K."
    WRONG! A free mixtape does NOT permit you to use samples from copyrighted recordings without the permission of the copyright holders.
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    WRONG! Sampling is an art form that requires technical skill, imagination, and artistic understanding.
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    WRONG! While the art of sampling is most commonly understood to include the use of pre-recorded songs (traditionally from vinyl records), source material for sampling includes any recorded sound or sound that can be recorded.
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