Russell Simmons And Steve Rifkind’s Goal For ADD52 Is To Develop The Next Star

Back in 2013 Russell Simmons, Steve Rifkind and film director/producer Brian Robbins (director of Varsity Blues, Good Burger, Hardball) partnered with Universal Music Group to create All Def Music—a record label whose goal is to promote and develop artists through the medium of YouTube—and came up with ADD Management.

Simmons, Rifkind and Robbins know a thing or two about breaking artists. Simmons is the co-founder of one of hip-hop’s most iconic record labels, Def Jam, and Rifkind, founder of Loud and SRC Records, was responsible for breaking legends such as Wu-Tang Clan, Mobb Deep and Three 6 Mafia. Robbins is the co-founder of AwesomenessTV, a podium for rising YouTube stars. With their vast knowledge in artist development, All Def Music has created ADD52, which launched back in March of this year, and today (July 10) Simmons and Rifkind came out to the The Hudson Hotel to talk about the ADD52 partnership with Samsung’s Milk Music.

ADD52 will serve as the A&R platform for All Def Music, and with their partnership with Samsung’s Milk Music—an ad-free radio service—they will release a new single all 52 weeks of the year from artists on the ADD52 platform.

The singles that are picked are based on the number of streams, likes and shares. However, Simmons and Rifkind are very much involved in the selection process. “It’s exciting,” says Rifkind. “That platform is the most important thing. Then once we really decide, the instinct comes. When we fly down to, let’s say, Atlanta and we’re talking to you and you don’t have any other songs but you have a plan, you have a following and a crew, research can’t tell you that. That’s a conversation.”

The goal of ADD52 is to find unsigned artists, cultivate them into stars and sign artists to contracts with any label under the Universal umbrella. Russell and Rifkind are looking for a diamond in the rough. “There’s so many artists who are hot in so many territories,” says Simmons. “Radio stations are scared to take chances on artists that are local because they want the record to spread. Because if it doesn’t spread, they feel like they made a bad judgement. Their playlist reflects their national taste buds. When Tayyib Ali is signed to a platform like ours, he gets more national exposure, which leads to more local exposure, and the whole thing kind of snowballs. We’re going to find all kinds of distribution areas.”

The 52 singles will be available on iTunes and Google Play for purchase. Acts have already seen success such as Tayyib Ali and New Orleans native 3D Na’Tee—who Simmons named in a Reddit AMA session as his favorite new rapper. The foundation of ADD52 is artist development, “the stuff that always has to get done,” Russell said. “Real, true artist development.”—Emmanuel C.M.