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The Free Music Generation

As recently as a few days ago, I was having a conversation with my dude AZ, who owns and runs the production marketplace PMP Worldwide (if you’re not already signed up for a PMP account, I strongly suggest you hurry up and do so). We were just talking about this whole generation of new producers and artists who are coming up now, how they all having this hustler mentality, and don’t want to spend money anything. It’s an idea that is related to my mixtape post from a few days ago, how everyone wants you to do things for them on the arm, because their movement is strong and they’ve worked with this one and that one.

The general strategy in the minds of those “on the grind” is this: I’m going to talk everyone into doing free things for me. Then I’m going to press up a product (CD, DVD, whatever else you can think of), promote the hell out of myself, and then I’m going to walk into a major label and they’re going to fork over a few million dollars for me to record my project.

The problem is that major labels, while they still have some value, have seen their relevance and their ability to just pour out money to artists with a “buzz” dwindle in recent years. There isn’t just some big pile of money waiting to be handed over anymore. This isn’t the 90s. Dudes need to be realistic. Buzz does not equal record sales.

What we have now is a cornucopia of smaller companies, people who have start-up situations, and are looking to make a few bucks doing what they love. If you’re a producer, for example, you might rent some space somewhere, set up a small project studio, and look to make money selling studio time and tracks to people who need music. This is something I’ve done a few times in my life, set up studios and all. But for every new client my business would get, there would another potential client trying to get something for free out of me and my business partners. Being the guys we were, we didn’t want to pass up certain opportunities that we thought might be good for us, so we got in bed with certain folks, and let’s just say their movements didn’t move to far. At the time, I guess there were certain rewards, but nothing could have helped us more than these people just contributing to our bottom line. We had bills to pay, like any normal American.

I think that with producers especially, there’s almost a lack of respect for the time and money put in to creating music for people to rap to. Rappers don’t have to pay for shit except a notebook and a pen, and what’s more, dudes just type in their sidekicks now, which they have anyway, for hollering at random chicks and assorted bullshit that doesn’t make them any money (that might help them actually pay for a beat).

I think that people who work records to radio go through the same thing, having to deal with artists who just don’t have any idea of what type of bread it costs to pay for that type of service. Indie publicists suffer as well, having to deal with rappers who don’t know anything about the business, let alone what a publicist does, or how much the service costs. These people just want to waste time. But they’re going to get rich or die trying, so you should fuck with them, right?

Everyone’s got a company these days, but nobody wants to do business. Everyone’s an executive, but can’t execute even the simplest thing. And it’s because they think there’s some big bag of money that’s gonna fall out of the sky once they put out enough mixtapes, go to enough industry parties, kiss as many A&R asses as possible, and get on as many street DVDs with guns as they can before they get locked by the local cops (not the hip-hop cops, they’re not that important).

Put your money where your mouth is, and then maybe this business can work for you the same way you’re trying to work it over.

And you guys whoring out your beats for $10 on Myspace aren’t helping things. A plate of fried chicken wings and french fries from your neighborhood chinese spot costs about the same. Are you serious?

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