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360 Deals are now mandatory

In my post the other day about the lengths to which Interscope is going to present the Knux as a “white” group, I speculated that they must have received a recording contract way sweeter than the contracts most other rap groups receive.

This was based on an interview I’d read with them, from around the time their album came out, in which they were talking about how they copped a crib in the Hollywood Hills, and how the scene there was some shit right out of the movie Less Than Zero.

As it turns out, I was right. Yesterday, I stumbled upon another interview, in which they expanded on the nature of their deal with the devil Interscope.

And I quote:

Rhapsody: Although you guys are signed to Interscope, it seemed like the roll-out for this album was similar to if you guys were signed to an independent label. There was no huge blockbuster feel.

Krispy Kream: Yeah. They want to have an organic, slow build, like a rock album. We got cross-marketing at Interscope because you have the hip-hop and the rock dudes working together. We have seven singles. So, you’ll hear probably like five more. When we finally get to the seventh single, the second album will be dropping.

Seven singles? Jesus H. Tapdancing Christ!

One thing they didn’t specify is how much money they received as an advance vis a vis most rappers. I figured it must have been a shedload more, since they’re copping cribs, while I’m not aware of anyone who’s copped their album. But it could be that they spent way less money money producing their album than most rappers.

As they mentioned in the interview, they produced all of the music on the album themselves. So they didn’t have to sweat bringing in Timbaland or the Neptunes to do any beats. And they’re not trying to get you clowns to cop their shit anyway. So there are no requisite guest vocals by the likes of Lil Wayne, or T-Pain. Or the one where Jay-Z and Nas rap on a song together, as if that hasn’t already been done a number of times now, and as if that was ever really all that interesting.

The fact that they’re not counting on selling very many records, and yet the label is spending all of this money to promote them, would lead me to believe that they’ve got one of these 360 deals where the label gets to share in the profit from all of the other shit that you do besides just making albums. Like, touring, merchandising, licensing, and what have you. Though again, they don’t say for certain whether or not they do. (They do say that they plan to make a lot of money on the road.)

Which brings me to something else I read yesterday. (A nigga be reading.) Did you know that all new artists signed to the Warner Music Group are required to sign 360 contracts? Edgar Bronfman Jr, its CEO, said so the other day at a Web 2.0 conference. He also said that about a third of their artists now have 360 deals.

Though it’s tenuously related to the matter at hand, you’ll recall that Edgar Bronfman Jr has been known to go for black chicks, and that his half-black son is, if I’m not mistaken, the guy who knocked up M.I.A. – the LCD community’s favorite new hipster act. I reviewed her first album, years ago, and I remember most of the songs were about having sex with guys for money. Coincidence? I’m just saying.

If you can’t get a deal with any of the Warner labels without signing a 360 contract, I wonder if you can get a deal with any of the major labels without signing one. Probably not, right? Otherwise, what kind of dumbass would sign with the Warner Music Group? Could it be that all of the guys featured in this month’s issue of XXL, who’ve recently signed to major labels, were forced to sign one of these contracts?

Note that Bronfman didn’t make any distinction as far as the type of artist. He could probably give a rat’s ass if the artist stands to make very much money from touring. If the artist is gonna make any money from anything, Edgar Bronfman Jr wants his cut. If, say, Charles Hamilton ultimately fails to set the world on fire with his songs about Sonic the Hedgehog and ends up having to take a job at Popeye’s, Bronfman’s octaroon grandson is gonna demand a dollar off his two-piece.

The implications, of course, are as vast as they are unfortunate. If you’re the Knux, at least maybe you can make a shiteload of money playing before vast seas of white guys clad in shirts that say STAFF on the back of them. But what if you’re a typical rapper, who fucking sucks balls live? It’s not like the label’s just gonna allow you to not justify their investment in you just because you’re a less capable individual. They’re probably gonna make you do a commercial for some shit.

You’d think the fact that a lable could force an artist to appear in a commercial (at which point the artist would of course be off the artistic roll call) would be one of those things that’s so controversial that we would have heard about it by now. But let’s keep it real. You didn’t even know that all new artists are required to sign 360 deals until I just told you. Who knows what kind of shit the labels are putting these artists up to?

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