Author: Dan Runcie

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Gain insights from businesses in music, media, and entertainment. Trapital founder Dan Runcie and various guests break down the cultural trends that shape the rest of the economy. Learn more at

179 Episodes
Even by today’s standards, Ice Spice’s meteoric rise is something else. She first hit it big in August 2022 with the viral release of “Munch.” Since then, Ice Spice has the most top 5 hits on the Billboard 100 in 2023 and guest appeared on Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour.How did we get here? Her aura, her music, her cinnamon-colored curls, and more have helped her stand out in an oversaturated industry.To explain how Ice Spice’s star was born and where it could go next, I brought on friend of the pod, Denisha Kuhlor. Here’s what we covered:[2:07] The People’s Princess [4:11] Ice Spice’s success by the numbers [6:23] “Always shipping” has kept Ice Spice’s momentum [7:26] Performing on Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour[09:49] What makes Ice Spice unique? [13:24] Artists’ relatability factor[20:27] Cultivating the Munchkins fanbase[24:00] What is a music global superstar in 2023?[31:39] Sexist dialogue around female rappers[35:56] How female rappers stand out[42:03] Ice Spice’s intentionsListen: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | SoundCloud | Stitcher | Overcast | Amazon | Google Podcasts | Pocket Casts | RSSHost: Dan Runcie, @RuncieDan, trapital.coGuests: Denisha Kuhlor, @denishakuhlorThis episode is sponsored by DICE. Learn more about why artists, venues, and promoters love to partner with DICE for their ticketing needs. Visit dice.fmEnjoy this podcast? Rate and review the podcast here! is home for the business of music, media and culture. Learn more by reading Trapital’s free memo.TRANSCRIPT[00:00:00] Denisha Kuhlor: What is interesting about, Ice Spice is they feel like everyone's learning in real time, and they feel like they get to be a part of it. So in some ways, I do think that her fan base is interesting because it's like they're co-creating a bit, in a way that hasn't that other artists, maybe they've wanted to, but like the true actual product and creation to a product process hasn't been as interactive as, hasn't been as interactive as before.There's no wall the way with other artists. There's Really no wall. It feels like the conversations or the quote tweets that she's having on Twitter really feel like conversations amongst friends from how they crack jokes to the colloquialisms that are there. [00:00:45] Dan Runcie Audio Intro: Hey, welcome to the Trapital Podcast. I'm your host and the founder of Trapital, Dan Runcie. This podcast is your place to gain insights from executives in music, media, entertainment, and more who are taking hip hop culture to the next level.[00:01:13] Dan Runcie Guest Intro: Two years ago. Ice Spice was a college student at SUNY Purchase doing her thing, like most college students do today. She's had one of the most Meteoric rises, especially in the past year. Everything that's happened in ice spices career since she dropped Munch last summer.It has been very fascinating to watch how a star blows up in 2023. In 2023 in this era that we're in now. And today's episode is a breakdown on that. What does it all mean? How did she get here? What did Ice Spice do differently that other artists right now haven't been able to do to reach the levels that she has?And how do we make sense of it all with what to expect with her career moving forward? If you ask the people on her team, whether that's the record labels, the management, the folks that she's working with, they think they have the next global superstar on their hands, but what does that term even mean, and what does that term mean today in an era where it's harder than ever for today's bright young stars to reach the same levels that the past global superstars have reached, especially for an artist from the us.To break it all down, we're joined by friend of the show, Denisha Kuhlor, who's the founder of Stan. She does great work in analyzing artist strategies and looking at Ice Spice and the Munchkins was a great opportunity for us to dive in. So here's our deep dive on Ice Spice. Hope you enjoy it.[00:02:35] Dan Runcie: All right, today we are back and we're gonna talk about the Princess Diana of hip hop, herself Ice Spice. It's only right and we're gonna talk about it and break it all down with someone who has written about her and does studies on fan bases as well. So you were the perfect person to have on Denisha Kuhlor, welcome back. Hi. Thanks for having me back. Ice Spice is so fascinating in a lot of ways because. go back to just two years ago. We weren't necessarily having conversations about her. She had released a few singles back then. Some were in collaboration with her dad, who is also a rapper.But things really blew up last summer. She puts out Munch, it becomes a drill anthem, a New York anthem. And then we just see this meteoric rise and you look at where she is now. Here are a few stats just to level set this conversation. She has 36 million monthly Spotify listeners that puts her above people like Jay-Z, Tyler the creator, Jack Harlow, the Beatles.So she's in pretty high company there and she's continued to stay in that area. And just for some context here, Spotify says that this is from their most recent loud and clear report. Spotify says that 130 artist catalogs on their platform are generating at least 5 million annually. So the artist catalogs themselves.Obviously the splits can be different, so if you use those numbers, and you said that I is currently 81st. In terms of all artists there, she's clearly in that lane. Obviously, you have to be able to maintain that for a year, but if you also assume that Spotify itself is roughly a quarter of the. Recorded music revenue that comes through, that's over 20 million dollars that we're seeing there.So we are clearly seeing that she has things from a stream perspective and she just came out for three nights of Taylor Swift's show in the Meadowlands at MetLife Stadium. So how do you make sense of this all? Where do you think about Ice spice and the rise and where she is right now in her career?[00:04:39] Denisha Kuhlor: Yeah, I think our space has been so fun to watch. It feels like every few years there's a people's champ, and they always seem to tend to originate from New York. and so seeing her do what she's done with in some ways what feels like, her back against the wall, when Munch came out, it was a lot of critical, critical takes, and the reception wasn't necessarily all positive. So to see how she's kind of, flipped this moment and the light shining on her into a real, you know, bonafide career based off the statue just mentioned is really exciting.[00:05:12] Dan Runcie: I think it highlights. What's possible now, today we've seen artists blow up and become household names in a short amount of time that isn't relatively new. If anything, you can honestly say it's harder to do now, just given the fact that it does take even more work and more time to develop a true superstar.And I do think that's a word that gets thrown around quite a bit. The thing with ice spice though, is that. He's also someone we've seen continue to maintain momentum. Yeah. In an era where someone could be hot for a few months and then you just don't necessarily have that moment again. Yeah. As back early, back as eight years ago, Fetty Wap had that one summer in 2015 where he just had hit after hit.Yeah. And they went consistently with it. That story and the challenges there have been told endless times, but that wasn't a long-lived experience either. And Ice Spice is clearly been able to even expand that from that perspective. I do think that I've heard a few people talk about how fame and talent are things that have had a very symbiotic relationship for years in music, just given how it was very hard to separate the two, especially if you were an artist that rose to the top. Yeah. you had to have a full package at least to be able to be in the conversation. I spice though, as someone who's continued to rise in, I think she has had songs that people liked, songs that people didn't like, people criticizing her flow, people criticizing this, and even some of her performances and things like that.But she's continued to build and grow in public, and it hasn't necessarily knocked her in any type of way. [00:06:51] Denisha Kuhlor: Yeah, I think she wins because she takes like a startup approach in the sense that she's always shipping, while, you know, Munch had its audience and its fan base. Her follow-ups definitely one introduced her to new audiences, but allowed her to keep shipping and testing and iterating on what works. She definitely takes an approach or it feels like just when you think like, okay, like this moment is done, or, you know, the time has lapsed. she's coming out with something new and something that's not expected, and frankly, something that just continues to place her even bigger on the world stage, right?She went from remixes that felt like a true collaboration amongst peers with Pink Panthers and boys a liar to. Getting to work with greats like Nikki or, Taylor Swift, where it feels like now they're saying, Hey, we like this girl. We're embracing her. and we wanna take her to the next step in the industry.So with each time she ships, it feels like it just keeps getting bigger and bigger.[00:07:54] Dan Runcie: Let's talk a bit about Taylor Swift, because you mentioned that there. This performance got a lot of buzz because Taylor Swift really hasn't brought many people out on the tour that she has. This tour may go down as one of the highest grossing tours that we've seen, and she's coming out and saying that I spice is the future, and we're seeing everyone from, whether it's her record labels and folks that she worked with more.Granted, we expect them to, that's their job to promote the folks that they have there, but from a live performance perspective, it wasn't always like this because she did get some critical comments from more recent performances that she did up to this point, and we've seen those types of things derail artists.Yeah. And
This is the breakdown on Roc-A-Fella Records. Founded in 1995 by the trio of Shawn “Jay Z” Carter (the talent), Damon “Dame” Dash (the promoter), and Kareem “Biggs” Burke (the silent partner), it became one of hip-hop’s most iconic labels.The label took time to develop. Jay’s debut album, Reasonable Doubt, is now seen as a certified classic, but took time to get that recognition. It wasn’t until 1997 when Def Jam acquired a 50 percent stake in the label and The Roc went to that next level.Roc-A-Fella then created Rocawear, Roc Films, and went on an unprecedented arena tour across the country — rare for rappers at the time. Other artists like Cam’Ron, Kanye West, Beanie Sigel, and Freeway joined the squad.. Despite the success, the founders grew apart, which led to its infamous split. To break it all down, I was joined by my friend and Jay Z biographer, Zack O’Malley Greenburg. Here’s what we covered:1:20 Roc-A-Fella origin story7:21 Reasonable Doubt09:43 Friendly rivalry with Bad Boy Records12:43 50-50 deal with Def Jam15:59 How Roc-A-Fella’s deal compared to others18:59 The Hard Knock Life Tour’s impact 28:32 Expanding the brand beyond Jay Z 30:32 Why Dame and Jay’s split was inevitable38:59 Artists taking sides44:21 Best Roc-a-Fella signing?45:22 Best business move?48:27 Dark Horse move?53:02 Missed opportunity? 59:07 Will Dame and Jay ever make up?1:00:45 Who won the most from Roc-a-Fella? Listen: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | SoundCloud | Stitcher | Overcast | Amazon | Google Podcasts | Pocket Casts | RSSHost: Dan Runcie, @RuncieDan, trapital.coGuests: Zack O’Malley Greenburg, @zogblogThis episode is brought to you by Norby, your digital marketing Swiss army knife. Get started for free with a free 2-week trial (no credit card needed) AND get 50% off for 3 months after that. Start your free trial todayThis episode is sponsored by DICE. Learn more about why artists, venues, and promoters love to partner with DICE for their ticketing needs. Visit dice.fmEnjoy this podcast? Rate and review the podcast here! is home for the business of music, media and culture. Learn more by reading Trapital’s free memo.TRANSCRIPT[00:00:00] Zack Greenburg: I think it was really good for hip hop, and I don't think it was ever going to turn violent, but I think again, there was just this kind of like national paranoia around hip hop and, there is, you know, in waves.I think it was just a, good reminder that you can have like a spirited dispute and, it's okay and it's entertainment, you know? and it's, nothing that anybody needs to be afraid of. So, you know, of course like credit to Jay and Nas for resolving it amicably, yeah, I mean just, to have that end, you know, like very amicably I think was just so good for everybody involved. And then, you know, I think it's really fun to watch, Jay and Nas as their relationship has evolved And, you know, Nas was sort of always like the one who was sort of behind, when it came to the business of things.[00:00:46] Dan Runcie Intro: Hey, welcome to the Trapital Podcast. I'm your host and the founder of Trapital, Dan Runcie. This podcast is your place to gain insights from executives in music, media, entertainment, and more who are taking hip hop culture to the next level.[00:01:13] Dan Runcie Guest Intro: This episode is a rewind. We're going back in the clock to the late nineties, early two thousands, and we are revisiting one of. The most iconic record labels at the time, the one and only Roc-A-Fella Records. Roc-A-Fella Records, is the record label started by Jay-Z Dame Dash, Big Burke, and went on to be one of the most iconic hip hop record labels and hip hop brands, and that's a key thing from this conversation.I was joined by my friend Zach O'Malley Greenberg. He wrote Empire State of Mind, a biography on Jay-Z, and he also wrote Three Kings that broke down Jay-Z, Dr. Dre, and Diddy's Business Moves. So he was a perfect person to have this conversation with. We talked about the highs of this record label, the lows, some of the best business moves where Jay-Z and Dame didn't see eye to eye, some of the dark horse business moves that they made.What was the best signing from Roc-A-Fella Records? Missed opportunities and more. If you enjoy the episodes we did on Cash Money and Interscope, this one will be right up your alley and we already know what it is when we're talking about Jay, Dave, and Big. So let's dive into it. Hope you enjoy it.[00:02:17] Dan Runcie: All right. We are back to do another breakdown on one of the most iconic record labels, the one and only Roc-A-Fella records, and I'm joined by someone who wrote the book on one of the most influential people behind this record label. Zack O'Malley Greenberg, welcome back, man.[00:02:33] Zack Greenburg: Thanks for having me on, Dan, as always.[00:02:36] Dan Runcie: Yeah, and with this one, I think it's good to start even before Roc-A-Fella records because this label was a long time coming and there were a number of things that Jay Dame and Biggs, the founders of this record label were involved before this. So set the stage. Where were we pre Roc-A-Fella launch.[00:02:55] Zack Greenburg: Yeah, so, you know, I think a lot of people forget, although Jay-Z is a billionaire now, a couple times over, back in the early nineties, he wasn't even sure that he could make it as a rapper full-time. So, you know, he'd appeared on a couple tracks with his mentor jazz. Oh, this great Golden Age rapper. He had popped up kind of here and there, but, you know, really he was finding that it was much more lucrative to be a hustler.And so he was increasingly making more and more trips outta town to New Jersey and Maryland and so forth doing his thing. And, you know, I think he really kind of saw music as a hobby at that point. so he, he did have, you know, a couple supporters, namely DJ Clark Kent, you know, one of these influential producers, at the time.And, you know, Clark Kent really believed in Jay when a lot of people did it. And so he kind of kept trying to convince him to give another shot, like he could do this as an actual profession, and finally convince him to sort of take this meeting with Damon Dash. So he thought that Jay-Z was this just like once in a generation talent, from the musical side, and that Dame was sort of this promotional mastermind.And then if the two forces kind of united, they could create something really special. So in my book, empire State of Mind, Clark Kent tells the story of how he convinced Jay and Dame to sort of meet up. And so Dame, of course is from Harlem, Jay's from Brooklyn. There's sort of like this New York City snobbery thing going on, you know, Manhattan folks kind of maybe look down sometimes on people from Brooklyn and so they get together and, Dame rolls in.He sees Jay's wearing a pair of Air Force 1s and he is like, okay, this guy's cool, you know, he has good taste in sneakers, so I, can do business with him. and that was kind of like, you know, the initial hurdle was, you know, overcome and off it went. And so they struck up this really productive partnership together where, you know, Dame would kind of, help Jay Z sell, you know, they would go around selling CDs outta the trunks of cars and stuff like that.they were trying to get a proper record deal. and they just didn't have, like, nobody was kinda like really into the whole jay thing at the time. And you know, if you think about the music that he was making, unreasonable Doubt, it's like very nuanced. you know, like a lot of words packed into not very many bars, you know, like the space and the rapidity of the, the flow was like kind of not what was happening at the time in the, you know, by this time like, getting toward the mid nineties.So, basically they decided to go and start their own, and they brought in green Bigs Burke, who was kind of a silent partner, you know, another formidable hustler in his own right. And, you know, so there was the, talent, the silent partner and, you know, the promotion guy.And you know, when their powers combined, they were Captain Planet or whatever they were Roc-A-Fella records.[00:05:42] Dan Runcie: And I think part of the thing with Jay-Z that made this unique was his age at this point as well, because by the time they start Roc-A-Fella, he's already in his mid twenties, which doesn't sound anything unusual now, but back then, the rappers that were blowing up were always teenagers.There were always early twenties. You think about Dr. Dre, everyone from NWA, you think about Nas when he dropped I Maddock or you look at LL Cool J. Everyone is a young cat. So for Jay to then drop his debut album when he is 26, Is an ancient man, a grandfather trying to get into this game?[00:06:19] Zack Greenburg: Yeah, I mean, it's like a 26 year old rookie in, you know, the NBA or in baseball or something.It's just like, you don't see it. I mean, al almost ever. And when it does happen, it's sort of like a journeyman, you know, like role player type but jay, you know, had just packed a lifetime worth of lyrics into this one album cuz he kind of viewed it as, you know, this was like a one and done, like a novelty thing.And, you know, he really fully anticipated, you know, kind of coming up from the underworld, dropping this gem of an album and then kind of like disappearing off into the ether, like Kaiser Souzai at the individual suspects. And that, I mean, that was actually his plan. you know, according to a lot of people who I talked to around the time.So, yeah, it was definitely not sort of the normal path, for creating an album. I mean, I think they thought that. You know, they could put out this album, it would do well and then, you know, maybe they would bring along other artists and he wouldn't have to be sort of at the forefront.Like he might just keep doing his thing on the hustling side or whatever. but obviously things turned out a little bit differently.[00:07:22] Dan Runcie: Th
Will Page returns to the show for a “state of the industry” episode. In last year’s appearance he correctly called out the slowdown in streaming subscriptions, bubbles in web3, and more.Will believes the value of copyrighted music could hit $45 billion annually when the 2022 numbers are calculated — up $5 billion from 2021, which is already an all-time high for the industry.  Another massive shift is glocalisation”: the trend of local music dominating the domestic charts, as opposed to Western artists. This phenomenon isn’t just being felt in music, but across every industry, from film to education.We covered both these trends, plus many more. Here’s all our talking points: 1:33 Why the music industry is actually worth $40+ billion annually7:03 Physical music sales on the up and up10:47 How publisher and labels split up copyright value16:59 The rise of “glocalisation” will impact every industry34:39 DSP carnivores vs. herbivores 40:23 Why video vs. music streaming isn’t a perfect comparison 46:31 Music as a premium offering in the marketplace 51:38 How to improve streaming royalties  1:06:05 AI music benefits that goes overlooked 1:10:07 Will’s latest mix pays homage to Carole KingGlocalisation report: Page's 2023 Believe in Humanity: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | SoundCloud | Stitcher | Overcast | Amazon | Google Podcasts | Pocket Casts | RSSHost: Dan Runcie, @RuncieDan, trapital.coGuest: Will Page, @willpageauthorThis episode is sponsored by DICE. Learn more about why artists, venues, and promoters love to partner with DICE for their ticketing needs. Visit dice.fmTrapital is home for the business of hip-hop. Gain the latest insights from hip-hop’s biggest players by reading Trapital’s free weekly memo. TRANSCRIPT[00:00:00] Will Page: I put so much emotional time and effort into making these mixes happen and going out for free.They get your DJ slots, but more importantly, it goes back to what makes me wanna work in music, which was a lyric from Mike G and the Jungle Brothers from that famous album done by the forties of Nature, where he said, it's about getting the music across. It's about getting the message across. It's about getting it across without crossing over.How can I get art across an audience without delegating its integrity? And it's such an honor to have this mixed drop in this Friday I mean, that's, made my year and we're not even into June yet.[00:00:30] Dan Runcie Intro: Hey, welcome to the Trapital Podcast. I'm your host and the founder of Trapital, Dan Runcie. This podcast is your place to gain insights from executives in music, media, entertainment, and more who are taking hip hop culture to the next level.[00:00:56] Dan Runcie Guest Intro: Today's episode is all about the state of the music industry, and we're joined by the One and Only, Will Page. He is a fellow at the London School of Economics. He's an author of Tarzan Economics and Pivot, and he is the former chief economist at Spotify. Will's second time on the podcast. Now, the first time we talked all about the future of streaming and where things are going in music, and we picked that conversation, backed up.We talked about a bunch of trends including the glocalisation of music, which is from a new report that Will had recently put out. We also talked about why he values the music industry to be close to a 40 billion industry, which is much higher than a lot of the reports about recorded music itself.And we also talk about a bunch of the topics that are happening right now, whether it's ai, how streaming should be priced, the dynamic between record labels and streaming services, and a whole lot more love. This conversation will always brings it with these conversations, so I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Here's our chat.[00:02:00] Dan Runcie: All right, today we have the one and only Will Page with us who is recording from a beautiful location. I don't know if you're listening to the pod you can't see, but will tell us where you are right now.[00:02:09] Will Page: So great to be back like a boomerang on Trapital. Dan, and I'm coming to you from the Platoon Studios. Part of the Apple Company Platoon is our label services company, which is owned by Apple. They're doing great stuff with the artists like Amapiano music from South Africa. And the best place I can describe to you here, it's like a Tardus.Have you've ever seen Dr. Who? There's a tiny door in this tall yard music complex in North London just behind Kings Cross. When you enter that tiny door, you enter this maze of the well class spatial audio recording studios of Apple. And it's an honor they've given me this location to come to Trapital today.[00:02:41] Dan Runcie: Well we're gonna make the best of it here and it's always great to have you on, cuz Last year, last year's episode felt like a state of the industry episode, and that's where I wanna start things off this year with this episode.A couple months ago, you put out your post in your Tarzan economics where you said that this industry is not a 2020 5 billion industry, the way others say. Mm-hmm. You say, no, this is almost a 40 billion industry. So let's break it down. How did you arrive there and what's the backstory?[00:03:12] Will Page: I get goosebumps when you say that you think like 10 years ago we were talking about a 14 billion business and now it's a 40, you know, skews a slurred Scottish pronunciation, but let's just be clear from one four to four zero, how did that happen?Well the origins of that work, and you've been a great champion of it, Dan, is for me to go into a cave around about October, November and calculate the global value of copyright and copyright is not just what the record labels publish, that famous IFPIGMR report that everyone refers to, but it's what collecting studies like ask F and BMI collect what publishers generates through direct licensing.You have to add A plus B plus C labels, plus collecting societies plus publishers together. Then the complex part, ripping out the double counting and doing all the add-backs, and you get to this figure of 39.6 billion, which as you say, you round it up, it begins with a four. And I think there's a few things that we can kind of get into on this front.I think firstly we should discuss the figure. I'll you a few insights there. Secondly, I think we should discuss the division. And then thirdly, I want to cover the physical aspect as well. So if you think about the figure, we've got 39.6 billion. We know it's growing. I think what's gonna be interesting when I go back into that cave later this year to redo that number, it's gonna be a lot bigger.Dan, I'll see it here on Trapital First. I think a 40 billion business in 2021 is gonna be closer to a 45 billion business in 2022. And one of the reasons why it's not labels and streaming, it's a combination of publishers are reporting record collections, essentially they're playing catch up with labels, booking deals that perhaps labels booked a year earlier.And collecting studies are gonna get back to normal after all the damage of the pandemic. And when you drive those factors in where you have a much bigger business than we had before. So for the people listening to your podcast who are investing in copyright, this party's got a waiter run. You know, don't jump off the train yet cause this thing is growing[00:05:18] Dan Runcie: And the piece I want to talk about there is the publishing side of this. If you look at the breakdown of the numbers you have, the publishing is nearly, publishing plus is nearly 13 billion itself. The major record labels own most of the largest publishers right now. Why isn't this number just automatically included? Wouldn't it be in everyone's advantage to include the fact that yes, Universal Music Group and Universal Music Publishing Group are together, part of the entity that make this, whether it's them, it's Warner Chapel, it's others. Why isn't this just the top line number that's shared in all of the other reports?[00:05:56] Will Page: It would be nice if it was, and indeed, I think the publishing industry around about 2001 used to do this. They haven't done it since. But it's like spaghetti. It's the best way I can describe it. I mean, how do you measure publisher income? You know, is it gross receipts by the publisher? Is it the publisher plus the collecting Saudi? That is money that went straight to the songwriter and didn't touch the publisher. So what the publisher holds onto what we call an industry, a net publisher, shares all these weird ways of measuring this industry that we have to be clear on.And it's, not easy. but I think what we do in the report is we try and make it bite size. We try and make it digestible to work out how much of that publisher's business came through, CMOs, the S gaps and BMIs this X over here PS music and how much do they bring in directly? And that allows you to understand a couple of things.Firstly, how do they compare vi to vis labels in terms of their overall income? And secondly, how do they compare when they go out to market directly, let's say putting a sync and a TV commercial or movie versus generating money through collective licensing that is radio or TV via ASCAP or bmr. So you get an interpretation of how these publishers are making those numbers work as well.[00:07:03] Dan Runcie: That makes sense. And then when we are able to break it down, we see a few numbers that roll up into it. So from a high level, at least what you shared from 2021, we have that 25.8 billion number from the recorded side. So that does fall in line with what we see from what the IPIs and others share. 10 billion Sure.From the publishing. And then you do have, the next 3.5 and then a little sliver there for royalty free and for the publishers' direct revenue that doesn't come from
UnitedMasters and Translation CEO Steve Stoute returns to the show, fresh off a new deal with R&B star Brent Faiyaz for a reported $50 million. Brent had his pick at multiple major labels, but chose to stay independent with UnitedMasters.We talk about how independent companies can compete with majors on upfront money, competitive advantages in the music industry, and more.Steve and I also chat about the industry at-large: AI, entrepreneurship, subscription prices and more. Here’s what we hit on:2:19 The ups and downs of entrepreneurship 06:11 Building two companies at once10:56 Positioning UnitedMasters in the music distribution space 13:16 Does anyone in music have a moat?15:56 Why Brent Faiyaz chose to sign with UnitedMasters27:33 Should the DSPs raise prices?30:07 Artists and creators becoming mini-media channels 36:58 How NIL (name, image, likeness) is like the independent music business37:19 Is Steve going to strike more NIL deals?45:52 Why every artists needs a Chief Technology Officer54:30 Separating real from hype: blockchain, to web3, to AIListen: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | SoundCloud | Stitcher | Overcast | Amazon | Google Podcasts | Pocket Casts | RSSHost: Dan Runcie, @RuncieDan, trapital.coGuest: Steve Stoute, @SteveStouteThis episode is sponsored by DICE. Learn more about why artists, venues, and promoters love to partner with DICE for their ticketing needs. Visit dice.fmTrapital is home for the business of hip-hop. Gain the latest insights from hip-hop’s biggest players by reading Trapital’s free weekly memo. TRANSCRIPT[00:00:00] Steve Stoute: They used to have a moat, but no longer do they have a moat. And I don't think anybody independent music has a moat. I think Distro kid has a lane and TuneCore has a lane, and United masses have a lane. And, you know, others have, certain strengths about them. but, I think the only moat you have is the moat that is a true result of the success that you have. If people choose you and you build a strong business, and you're growing, that's the quote unquote moat. [00:00:27] Dan Runcie Intro: Hey, welcome to the Trapital Podcast. I'm your host and the founder of Trapital, Dan Runcie. This podcast is your place to gain insights from executives in music, media, entertainment, and more who are taking hip hop culture to the next level.[00:00:55] Dan Runcie Guest Intro: Today's episode covered a wide range of topics, but the key thing that's central to it is artist independence, and we're able to sit down with none other than Steve Stoute, who is the founder and CEO of United Masters founder and c e o of translation, and has been working in music and entertainment.For decades now. This is actually his third time on the podcast, and we covered it all. We started the conversation talking about motivations and how you were able to stay consistent as an entrepreneur, given the ups and downs of that lifestyle. Then we talked about translation, United Masters, Artist Independence, a bunch of trends happening right now and how.A company stays through all of the waves of technology waves, whether it's blockchain from a couple years ago to web three to where things are with AI now. Really fun conversation. Steve always brings it in these talks too, so it's a really great listen, hope you enjoy it. Here's our conversation.[00:01:53] Dan Runcie: All right. We're back with the Trapital podcast. Yeah. We got the one and only Steve Stoute here. I think this is your third time on the pod. [00:02:00] Steve Stoute: Really? I thought. I guess I thought it was twice. Thought This was my second time. [00:02:04] Dan Runcie: We did one time. We was at Empire Studio there. Yeah. We did it virtual during the pandemic, and then we got this one.[00:02:11] Steve Stoute: Oh, well, I'm fan of it. very early. You were? Yeah, I was on it very, very early. I think you're a good job. [00:02:18] Dan Runcie: Appreciate that. [00:02:18] Steve Stoute: Thanks for having me back. [00:02:19] Dan Runcie: Thank you. Yeah. These conversations are always good. And I wanna start this one and a place we haven't started others. I feel like we normally dive into the business, but take it a step back.You've been building businesses as an entrepreneur for decades now. How do you stay even keeled? How do you stay consistent with it, just knowing the ups and downs that naturally happen with building businesses? [00:02:42] Steve Stoute: Well, the fact that I appear to be even keeled is a compliment because, I certainly am emotionally attached to the businesses I build.I know there's, you know, the saying, don't be emotional about business, but when I'm building something from an original idea that I have, it's, you birthed the idea. I'm emotionally attached to the success of it, and the organization around it and the perception of it. So, you've been through those tumultuous cycles, so you tend to not chase the highs or chase the lows.and that sounds good. but it is definitely harder to do that when you're emotionally attached than, you know, understanding the theory that you should do that. And I think experience helps a bit, takes the edge off. But yeah, I would say to you, you just, like, for me, I've been able to sustain the energy andsustain through the ups and downs, through, sort of expecting them and not, chasing the highs like that's where the big mistake is when something great happens or a series of great things happen, you know, respecting it, but not chasing it because I believe that that's still not, gonna prevent the tumultuous time from coming. Because [00:03:56] Dan Runcie: I think the tough part with that, and this is something I know I struggle with too, it's tying your own satisfaction, your own esteem at particular points with those highs when things are going well. Yeah. And it's great to say those things, but I know even myself, it's tough to be able to stay even keeled when things are going well. The phone starts ringing more, you start getting more opportunities, more looks for things. Yeah, yeah, [00:04:20] Steve Stoute: Yeah. And it becomes more hectic. And then you have to hire more people. And then that creates another set of problems and responsibilities. And look, building a business isn't easy. I said it, the shop, know that the biggest mistake that I see is the glorification of entrepreneurs like, almond entrepreneurs. So therefore, like, you know, the sacrifice that it requires, to be able to know that failure is imminent or success is imminent that you may have an idea and you can go years without realizing the opportunity and it may go to somebody else. people ask me, how do I do it? And, you know, I'm here in San Francisco, I was, You know, in LA the day before that I was in Miami, the day before that, the day before that I was in LA again, it's like, it just keeps going. And like, you know, not seeing your family an d sacrificing some of the comforts of home or the comforts that you have of a routine, it's also part of the sacrifice. So it's not easy, and you have to really be committed to it. It almost has to be your A plan, your B plan. Your C plan is that plan, like you won't find joy or fulfillment. in doing anything else. At least that's how I feel. [00:05:39] Dan Runcie: Yeah. I think a lot of it's accepting those trade-offs and knowing that you can't do it all. I think I've heard you talk about this on the shop as well, whether it's so-and-so as the birthday party, so-and-so as the this, and yeah, it's great if you can line up and do those things, but you've chosen this life to be able to be in LA, be in Miami, be in New York, and back to back days and Yeah, doing that requires this type of commitment to it and you can't do everything. [00:06:04] Steve Stoute: Yeah. and hiring great people, is part of it. but putting your own personal comfort is certainly not a priority. [00:06:12] Dan Runcie: Yeah, definitely. Interesting you brought up the hiring piece because I think you've definitely built up a reputation as someone that's always operating on 10. So you naturally wanna surround yourself with people that are at that level. What are some of the things that you look for to see, okay, does this person have the edge? Cuz you know you're gonna be running all the time. Can they run with you? [00:06:36] Steve Stoute: it's very hard to, you know, resumes or LinkedIn pages, whatever you use can tell you a lot, but they don't measure resourcefulness or effort, right? So those things do not appear in any aspect of looking at, a person's profile. So I've learned through failure, you know, I may have not, I may have, I have high, I have hired and fired. you know, 3000 plus people, you know, so you learn what are the qualities or what are the questions to ask, to try to help, mitigate that the kind of person you need for your company. It doesn't mean that person's bad. You could have made a bad hire, not because the person's not good, they just don't fit your team. I mean, you see it in the NBA all the time. Players on somebody that was on the Lakers or somewhere else goes to another team and then all of a sudden they do well cuz it's the system, it's the culture, it's the coach. And that's the same thing with employment. Like, you just may be good just not for this company. So understanding what you specifically need versus, oh, this person worked at, so tech high, or they worked at Google, they worked at Airbnb, we want that right? Pulling them into a startup or pulling them into that culture or pulling them into that product not made completely, is completely different, specifically in our case, than what they were doing over there. And not every single job transfers one to one, whether it's the music business, the tech industry, the marketing business. We hire people at translation all the time. They came from Ogilvy. It's like, well, that has nothing to do with us, right? Or they come from Goodbee and you're like, well, that ain't gonna work here, right? Why? Just because the w
It’s never been easier for brands to push their message out. But building true connections is  in today’s fragmented landscape.Dr. Marcus Collins has advice for cutting through the noise. His new book, “For The Culture”, is full of insights. Marcus has worked with Beyonce, Apple, Nike and more. He’s the Head of Strategy at Wieden+Kennedy, and a marketing professor at the Michigan Ross School of Business (Go Blue!).Marcus believes people use brands to express who they are. To win now and in the future, the most successful brands will have to double down on identity, not on value proposition. Here’s everything we covered:[3:20] How media fragmentation is affecting community-building [5:35] Brands have to activate people, not algorithms  [8:45] Ideology creates cultural consumption[10:44] Brand ideology transcends industries[19:18] How non-visible companies can use tangibility to brand build[20:04] Effective market research goes beyond just data[23:57] Great marketing taps into the moment[30:04] Why Marcus wrote this book[31:30] How to reach MarcusListen: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | SoundCloud | Stitcher | Overcast | Amazon | Google Podcasts | Pocket Casts | RSSHost: Dan Runcie, @RuncieDan, trapital.coGuests: Marcus Collins, @marctothecThis episode is sponsored by DICE. Learn more about why artists, venues, and promoters love to partner with DICE for their ticketing needs. Visit dice.fmThis episode is also brought to you in collaboration with Primary Wave. James Brown would have turned 90 this month. Let’s revisit his cultural legacy and check out his greatest hits. Enjoy this podcast? Rate and review the podcast here! is home for the business of music, media and culture. Learn more by reading Trapital’s free memo.TRANSCRIPT[00:00:00] Marcus Collins: The hope for me personally, is to scale my impact like I believe that reasonable, my ideology, my belief, my conviction is that we're put in this world to serve God, and serve each other. That's what I believe, and the way I serve is by helping people realize the best version themselves operate the highest fidelity. So the book is a way to scale my impact.[00:00:21] Dan Runcie Intro: Hey, welcome to the Trapital Podcast. I'm your host and the founder of Trapital, Dan Runcie. This podcast is your place to gain insights from executives in music, media, entertainment, and more who are taking hip hop culture to the next level.[00:00:45] Dan Runcie Guest Intro: Today's episode is all about culture, culture's ability to drive the decisions we make in business, in society and more. And our guest is the one and only Dr. Marcus Collins. He is an award-winning marketer. He's a professor at the Ross School of Businesses, university of Michigan, go blue. And he has done a number of impressive things in his career, working on campaigns like Apple Music, Budweiser, made in America's Festival, Bud Light Platinum, Beyonce and her digital work, especially in the Sasha Fierce era. He's also worked with Matthew Knowles, Steve Stout, and many others in the industry today, and he is the author of a new book that just came out called For the Culture. So in this episode we talked a lot about brands reaching that ideology level, which Marcus describes as that top tier that a brand could reach in terms of how it connects and identifies with people and in communities.So we talk about what that looks like. We also talk about Marcus' goals for this book, how that shapes his viewpoints and some of the challenges that brands can face. With regards to branding and reaching that ideology level, whether certain industries are more or less disposed to being able to get there and more.I give Marcus a ton of credit, him and I had met over a decade ago, back when I was in business school at Michigan as well, and seeing his career path and a lot of the decisions that he was able to make a transition into doing something he truly loves and is one of the best people in the world at what he does, gave me inspiration to not only see that there were plenty of other non-traditional career paths after going to business school, but I think a lot of that also informed the type of work that I now do at Trapital today and how I try to continue myself on the path that makes most sense for me.So really great conversation, always great to have him on a second time on the podcast. So here's my conversation with Marcus. Hope you enjoy it.[00:02:41] Dan Runcie: All right. We are joined today by the one and only Dr. Marcus Collins, author of For the Culture, an award-winning marketer and a Ross alum. Go Blue. Welcome back, man.[00:02:51] Marcus Collins: That's right. Thanks man. Thanks for having me, doc. Always a pleasure to be with[00:02:55] Dan Runcie: Likewise and your book. Great job on it. Great job on the release too. You got a bunch of heavy hitters giving support for this. And one of the things that I wanna start with, you've talked about this before, the ideology hierarchy that brands go through and that journey. So for the listeners, can you first explain what that is and then an example of a brand that you think has gotten there and done A good example of that.[00:03:20] Marcus Collins: Yeah, so we think about ideology, it's about the way the brand sees the world, like the point of view that the brand has it's conviction. Some call it as purpose. It's really the driving belief that dictates where the brand goes, what it says, what it does, and with whom. it shows up in the world.And we all think about strong brands as brands that people know. Oh, I know that brand. we're strong. Where a lot of brands that we know that we don't consume from, right? Like Sears, we know that brand Blockbuster, we know that brand, but clearly people weren't showing up. So awareness isn't enough. One step up, we go, well there's, I know that brand and it has good quality, right?Oh, that's awesome. I know the brand has has good quality. It's a stronger brand. But to go one step higher is to know the brand. Strong, good quality, but it's also considered a leader in the space, right? So you've got like a Hulu and a Netflix and a Tubly. Which one is more trusted? Well, definitely ain't Tubly, right?Because they're not considered anywhere close to being a leader in the space. A step up from that is trust and confidence. I trust the brand. Not only do I know it, it has, good products. it's a leader in the category, but I also trust it. I have confidence in it. We think about, the headphones that we know to be the most trusted headphones in the market.We'll say, oh, that's Bose, right? Bose is demonstratively, a leader in the category and the most trusted headphones. Think about audio quality, sonic quality. However, Bose is bested in the market by Beats by Dre. Why is that? Because Beats by Dre operates at a higher level still. It's association and relevance that the brand, it's relevant for someone like me and the association, the imagery I have that's associated to the brand makes it seem cooler, right?Which is why Beats by Dre owned like 48% of the market when they were before AirPods came out, right when it came to the headphone market. But then it's one step higher than that. And the most strongest brands operate at this zenith, this pinnacle of brand strength. And that's ideology. They transcend the value propositions of the product.My razor sharper, my battery last longer, my car goes faster, and they operate at a place of conviction. And this is so strong for brands because people consume those brands, not just cuz of what they are and what they do, but because who these people are. And the brand becomes an extension of my identity.of Who I am, a Patagonia fleece is just as warm as a Columbia fleece, however, where in Patagonia says something about who I am, my identity, that I believe in mitigating our impact on the environment, and that's massively powerful.[00:06:01] Dan Runcie: This is relevant for musicians and artists as well, because I think they have some of those ideological brands too. I've been looking at the trends, especially with vinyl sales. More than half of the people that are buying vinyl don't have players. They're buying them to put them on display to showcase them.It is an extension of them. I want you to think that I am the type of person that listens to Drake, that listens to Tyler the creator. That's that zenith that we're talking about. it[00:06:29] Marcus Collins: It was so cool, and I fully agree with you. A few years ago, Fruit of the Loom, they do partnerships with musical acts like, Metallica, Kiss, Aerosmith, Seal's t-shirts. People got metallic on their, shirts. That's a licensing deal between fruit, the loos, and those musical acts.And a few years back, fruit looms. Were looking at their book of business to see which. brand, likeness which artists l likeness was doing better than the others. So they can re-up those licenses and they found that the Ramones was outperforming Kiss, Metallica, Aerosmith. They're like, what's going on The Ramones little small little band.Then they had like two albums out in the seventies, like, what's happening here? So they asked those fans, they said, you know, you must be a really big fan of the Ramones that you bought this t-shirt. They were like, Nah, I don't even know they're music. But the Ramones mean punk rock, and they want to be seen as punk rock, the meaning associated with the brand, that vessel of meaning that is brand.People use it as an identity mark, not because of what it is, but because of who they are. I mean, the biggest brands that we know, the biggest artists that we know, they all transcend what they do and operate at a level of why they do it. In the words of Simon Sinek,[00:07:43] Dan Runcie: This reminds me of those Iron Maiden t-shirts. You remember that era? Maybe it was like five, seven years ago when everybody was wearing Iron Maiden t-shirts. I don't know if they were really listened to the music, but
This week, I’m running back an interview with another one of the most popular episodes we ever did with KevOnStage from early 2022. KevOnStage (Kevin Fredericks) is a comedian, producer, director, and entrepreneur behind KevOnStage studios.  Today's episode talks about how he built an independent brand that really paid off his hard work. He established a solid fan base, had millions of followers on social media, and monetized these platforms by producing his hilarious viral content, a total blast in the mainstream.Listen as we talk about what's going on in his business and his independent success, turning rejection into a massive opportunity to be where he is now.Episode Highlights[01:56] What KevOnStage is currently working on[04:49] His take on more black content going in the mainstream[06:53] KevOnStage’s motto, his marketing strategy, and business goals[11:57] What it’s like to have autonomy in his brand[19:08] His thoughts on artists knowing their audience and dealing with critics[21:30] What's the process from the stuff put out on socials versus onstage[25:24] How does he approach his game using different social platforms[32:38] What’s something beyond just the monetary gain that makes him want to continue to feel inspired to create content[35:13] His opinion on creators who are a one-platform-dominant[38:21] Where does his most lucrative income come from [41:57] How he diversify his content to own the media and make his brand stand out[45:51] What would he like to be doing more of[51:28] KevOnStage’s new content to watch out forListen: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | SoundCloud | Stitcher | Overcast | Amazon | Google Podcasts | Pocket Casts | RSSHost: Dan Runcie, @RuncieDan, trapital.coGuest: KevOnStage StudiosThis episode is sponsored by DICE. Learn more about why artists, venues, and promoters love to partner with DICE for their ticketing needs. Visit dice.fmTrapital is home for the business of hip-hop. Gain the latest insights from hip-hop’s biggest players by reading Trapital’s free weekly memo. TRANSCRIPTKev: So, sometimes partnering is great, sometimes licensing is great, sometimes selling is great sometimes. A good business person takes the best deal for what they need to get done.(intro)Dan: Hey, welcome to the Trapital Podcast. I’m your host and the founder of Trapital, Dan Runcie. This podcast is your place to gain insights from the executives in music, media, entertainment, and more who are taking hip hop culture to the next level. Today’s guest is KevOnStage, the comedian, producer, director, and entrepreneur behind KevOnStage Studios. I’ve been following KevOnStage for years now. I think he’s one of the funniest people on the internet so it was so good to have this conversation. We talked about how he’s built his business and everything that he has done from how he creates content, how he thinks about what platforms he prioritizes, how that then provides insights for what he creates for his longer form content, what gets created from KevOnStage Studios, and, ultimately, the type of opportunities that he can offer for other creators and other entertainers that want to do, in many ways, largely the type of thing that he’s done. And we talked about where his streaming service sits in this ecosystem of the Netflixes and the Hulus and, in a lot of ways, even though those streaming services may have their black voices tabs, that’s not quite the type of content that is what Kev is making so he’s really finding his niche, doubling down there, and how he uses the insights from that to infer what gets made, that is how many creators have been very successful so so much of that is very relatable. This is also probably one of the interviews I’ve laughed in the most. He’s hilarious, like I said. This is a great conversation. I really hope you enjoy it. Here’s my chat with KevOnStage.(interview)Dan: All right, we got my guy KevOnStage here. Kev, you are one of the busiest people that I’d seen from 2021. Now we’re next year, man. How you feeling? Fresh year, how is it?Kev: I’m excited, man. We’ve got a lot of new things we’re working on. I’m really excited, man. It’s always fun to be at the beginning of a project, not knowing where it’s going or how far it may go and that’s kind of where I am now. All the things I’m like, “Oh, soon as I get back, soon as I get back, I’m gonna start working on that.” That time is here now so I’m really excited.Dan: That what’s up. Because I feel like for you, you got a few things that are already in motion that have been working well. Your content’s good. You got that machine going. But the Studio, I feel like that’s the really exciting thing that’s been growing.Kev: Listen, man, I’m working on my own flywheel, okay? Westbrook, they got their flywheel, fast IP, that was the best graphic I’ve ever seen that you made. Dan: Oh, thank you. Kev: I was like, “This is what I wanna do. I wanna do everything from Instagram videos to selling shows.” So, you know, and they all have their own value so that’s what’s exciting. I have the same amount of joy from making a funny reel like I posted of Angel falling in the challenge show, it was just — I spent 20 minutes on that, really just getting the fall right. And then I came here, you know, I went on location scout right before I came here to this new show we’re working on and then this podcast, like they’re all exciting for different reasons so I’m trying to enjoy it all. Dan: Yeah. I think the cool thing with that, you get to wear multiple hats and I know, with this, there’s a number of things that interest you about this, right? Like you enjoy comedy, you have that piece, but I also know that you like to put people on. You wanna use your platform to do that. So I feel like you being able to wear each of those hats and do those things gives you that opportunity to provide all of that.Kev: Absolutely, man. I think there’s the old saying of the church, “We’re blessed to be a blessing,” and that’s kind of what I wanna do. People have given me opportunities, partnerships with, you know, people have helped lift me, and I just wanna pass along the same thing. For me, my platform isn’t about me shining alone, you know what I mean? I tell my friends all the time, I want us all in the gated community. One things I used to do at all deaths that I found a lot of joy in was give people their first great reel or first time directing or whatever and I found that I had as much joy doing that as making somebody laugh. And KevOnStage Studios is really just a more expensive version of that. So, we wanna give people their first time PA-ing or help you get into the wardrobe union or makeup union. It’s hard for black people to get into those places but we need black people in those spaces so that’s kind of what we’re working towards doing. And then even simple things like our editor, one of our editors likes improv so it’s like, “Hey, you wanna be in an episode?” Things like that are great too because I want people to be able to scratch their own creative itch and that’s kind of what my passion is. Dan: What I like about KevOnStage Studios is that, sure, I think there’s a lot of attention right now with, “Oh, there’s so much black content out there on your Netflix,” your this and this, but what you’re doing is like you’re saying, that’s true to an extent but it really isn’t true for a lot of the people that I think could have the opportunities to be put on in this era.Kev: Yeah. I was just watching Abbott Elementary this morning where I was shaving and I was just like, man, this show is amazing, and to see somebody like Quinta Brunson who — my first time seeing her was on Instagram. Her “Girl who’s never been on a nice date, a large, he must got — he got money. He could —” like from that to a network sitcom. And even shows like South Side, which I don’t know their story as much, but the show is amazing, that’s great. But then there’s a lot of creators who have those similar ideas and absolutely no path to HBO, Comedy Central, ABC, Netflix. Even me, like I’ve pitched to a lot of people and I had a lot of, “Uh-huh, we’ll circle back.” And, you know, that was 2018, ’19, you know, pandemic killed off anything I had going in Hollywood so I want to be that same network for people who can’t get all the way to Hollywood, you know, like here’s your chance to get to, you know, Hollywood adjacent — North Hollywood, if you will. You’re right over the hill, you just — you know, it’s cheaper in North Hollywood. You know, there’s more taco trucks, you know? And your number 15 minutes of real Hollywood, you know, that’s what KevOnStage Studios, it’s the North Hollywood of Hollywood. We’re right there. We’re right there. But it’s a one-bedroom washer and dryer stacked, you know?Dan: Exactly. Kev: That’s a leg up from having to go to a laundry mat. Dan: Yes, that’s true. It’s true.Kev: Stackable’s good, man. I’ll take a stackable.Dan: Right, right. It’s one of those things, right? It’s like location and all that, you can’t pick everything with these things. You can pick two, and, Kev, you’re gonna give them two.Kev: Laundry is a huge plus. Location and a stackable, I’m like, “Bet, let’s do it.” Dan: Well, I think the good thing with it is that — because I know in past interviews, you’ve talked about, hey, with this model, this is something you wanna provide the opportunity. But from a business perspective, I know that it’s not something that you necessarily need like a ton of subscribers to reach some point or you’re not trying to reach like Netflix scale necessarily, it’s something that can sit beside that. But with that, I’m sure you also have goals from the business side as well as the impact side with the service. So, what does that look like from a streaming service perspective?Kev: Yeah, that’s a great, great question. It’s like — I heard this example somewhere. They’re like, you know, somebody’s saying you’re not gonna beat Walmart at selling everything at a low price,
In the 1990s, Interscope Records played by its own rules. Most new labels started with big stars, but Interscope had a clean slate. Most labels were scared of rap music, but Interscope leaned in. Co-founded by Jimmy Iovine, a producer, and Ted Field, a film producer, people questioned whether they had the chops to make it.The label has had a hand in some of the most memorable music moments like Death Row Records, the rise of Eminem, and the creation of Beats by Dre headphones. To break down Interscope’s success, I brought back Zack O’Malley Greenberg. His book, “Three Kings,” covered Interscope’s story. Together, we unpack what’s made Interscope such a long-standing player in the music industry.[0:53] The most successful individual label of the past 30 years?[2:40] Key figures in Interscope’s come-up story[6:57] Nontraditional way to build a record label [11:07] Death Row Records partnership [16:44] Biggest signing? [19:14] Best business move?[28:07] Darkhorse business move? [33:21] Where will Interscope be in 10 years [36:07] Would Interscope’s 90s approach work today?[43:39] Interscope’s entrepreneurial challenges today [50:36] Biggest winner in Interscope history?Listen: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | SoundCloud | Stitcher | Overcast | Amazon | Google Podcasts | Pocket Casts | RSSHost: Dan Runcie, @RuncieDan, trapital.coGuests: Zack O’Malley Greenburg, @zogblogThis episode is sponsored by DICE. Learn more about why artists, venues, and promoters love to partner with DICE for their ticketing needs. Visit dice.fmEnjoy this podcast? Rate and review the podcast here! is home for the business of music, media and culture. Learn more by reading Trapital’s free memo.TRANSCRIPT[00:00:00] Dan Runcie Intro: Hey, welcome to the Trapital Podcast. I'm your host and the founder of Trapital, Dan Runcie. This podcast is your place to gain insights from the executives in music, media, entertainment, and more, who are taking hip hop culture to the next level.[00:00:27] Dan Runcie Guest Intro: Today's episode is all about Interscope Records. It has been one of the most influential record labels since it was started in 1990. This record label has been home to Dr. Dre, Eminem, 50 Cent, Lady Gaga, Olivia, Rodrigo, and countless other names in between. So we talked about what made Death Row records wanna partner with a company like Interscope and what made Interscope succeed time and time again. So we talk about the business model of being able to sell controversy and why that worked well, especially in the 90s. We also talk about leadership and how important it is to have people at the helm that understand what's needed and how that continued to help Interscope time and time again.We also talk about some of the challenges that Interscope has had and how they're able to navigate that too. And in this episode, very similar to the Cash Money one that we did a couple months ago, Zach and I, that's Zach O'Malley Greenberg, you may know him from his work back when he was at Forbes as the entertainment editor there.And from the books he's written like Three Kings and Empire State of Mind. We talked about a number of things and answered several questions that we talked about in the Cash Money episode as well. What was the biggest signing? What were the best business moves that were made? What was the Dark Horse move?What are the missed opportunities? How did this record label handle transitions? And who is the biggest winner overall from the success of Interscope Records, which is now Interscope Geffen A and M today, one of the umbrella labels under Universal Music Group. This is a really fun episode to do, and we're gonna do more of them.So let us also know if you have any suggestions on other ones you want us to do at the end of the episode, and we'll go from there. Here's our breakdown on Interscope Records. Hope you enjoy it.[00:02:13] Dan Runcie: This episode is a breakdown on one of the most storied record labels of the past few decades, Interscope Records and we're back to break it down with my guy, Zach O'Malley Greenberg. Zach, welcome back, man. [00:02:24] Zack Greenburg: Thanks for having me, as always. [00:02:27] Dan Runcie: Yeah, I knew that this was a topic that was near and dear to you, given the work you covered in the spaces.Well, this is one of the more interesting record labels, but following their work for years. And just to just kick things off, this record label starts 1990, right at the beginning of a new wave for music and since it's come out, would you say that this is the most successful record label, individual record label that we've seen in music since then?[00:02:52] Zack Greenburg: I mean, it's certainly hard to think of another one, that's been more reliably at the top, right? I mean, and I think the thing that really sets Interscope apart is it's not like, you know, the label was made off of just one act or two acts or three acts. They just have a, track record of continuing to find, you know, artists that push the envelope, that, you know, break records and that end up at the top of the music scene and, you know, kind of across genres and eras too.So, you know, and really even across, chief executives, which is I think, pretty unusual. So, I think there's some kind of secret sauce in there and, can't wait to dig into it with you.[00:03:27] Dan Runcie: Yeah, I think it. In terms of the longevity, in terms of the phases they've gone through, whether it's dominating in hip hop, dominating in pop, dominating in rock, they've been able to do it across genres across decades. The one record label that I do think could also be worth mentioning in this respect is Republic Records started a few years after 1995, but I think there's a few things there too as well.The consistency and the ability to do consistent deals, win challenging Bit Wars and get some of the top artists. So I do think it would probably have to be one of those two. But from a timeframe perspective, just all of what Interscope was able to do even before things got started at Republic, do give them a edge.If we're talking past 25 years, that's probably another discussion, but past 30, 32 years, I think Interscope is probably there. I think there's also maybe a case to be made for Columbia or a case to be made for Atlantic as well, but I do think that Interscope, especially just with the way that they went about things a little differently, which we'll get into, but I feel like they have a strong advantage there. [00:04:33] Zack Greenburg: Yeah, for sure. And I think, you know, particularly when it comes to the sort of entrepreneurial spirit, you know, and we've talked about Cash Money and Def Jam and you know, Rockefeller certainly, hip hop, specific record labels that have been uniquely, entrepreneurial, you know, especially given some of their leadership, but like, I think for a label that, you know, kind of delves into pop so much.And of course Interscope obviously, you know, huge home for hip hop too. But to have that entrepreneurial streak, outside of it, mostly hip hop label. I think that's pretty unusual too in some of the things they've done around beats, which we can get into. you know, j just, you know, being almost, you know, like a venture fund or an incubator as much as a record label in some ways. I think that's another way that Interscope has been, you know, really different from the rest. [00:05:16] Dan Runcie: Yeah, for sure. That beats thing, we'll get into that one in a minute. I feel there's so much to dive into there but let's start with the quick backstory. I'm sure a lot of folks already know this, but there are three main figures that were involved with. The beginning of this record label. You have PBIV, you have Ted Fields, and you have John McLay so. Let's first start with Jimmy. So as many of you know, this was someone that was a record producer. It started as that worked with legendary artisan music, whether it was John Lennon, Springsteen, and several others. And with that, he was able to carve out a lane, figure out what works for him. And I know that now the jump from producer to executive may not seem like it's that much, but back in 89 ' 90', there were a lot of question marks around whether or not this record producer guy could run a business, could he be an executive, and make the decisions and call the shots?And there were a lot of things that Jimmy did that may seem conventional, but there were a lot that were seen unconventional. But I do think that him having the partnership with others helped craft Interscope to where it is today. And Ted Fields is one of those first, one of those people where the name comes from.So yeah. Zach, tell us a little bit about Ted and some of his [00:06:28] Zack Greenburg: work before. Yeah, I mean, you know, and it was, this was at this point, over 30 years ago, but, you know, I was five years old. But kind of looking back on it now, I mean, it seems to me the way these things go, like Ted Field was kind of the money guy. Jimmy was the industry guy and you know, Ted Field was one of the heirs of the Marshall Field Fortune, he had been involved in film production and like race cars and all kinds of things that heirs to Fortunes are option involved in, which are maybe not as lucrative as Interscope Records turned out to be. but interesting nonetheless, he was a producer on, revenge of the Nerds and some other really interesting films.but yeah. In 1990, he came along, basically thought of Interscope Records as its division of this film company. and he brought on, he teamed up with Jimmy. I think they were actually introduced by the manager of u2. and, David Geffen was sort of involved in negotiations along the way. And, it was like kind of a who's who of the music world, you know, at kind of the cusp of the 1990s there. And so he came in, he brought on John McClain, to run Interscope at first. So John McClain is like one of these people who's incred
This week, I’m running back an interview with one of the most popular episodes we ever did with Matt Pincus from 2022. Matt Pincus is without question one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the music industry. He sold his independent music publishing company, SONGS, for $160 million five years ago. And now, the music holdings company he co-founded, MUSIC, just raised $200 million to invest in music and music-adjacent companies. Though, Matt doesn’t see MUSIC as an investment fund, but rather a holding company. That’s because he’s taking an operator role in the companies he funds. And unlike the splashy catalog acquisitions that’ve dominated the space over the past few years, Matt is looking forward with his investments and targeting brand-new growth opportunities instead.In particular, Matt sees big opportunities in the technology sector, web3, and even record labels and publishing. At SONGS, Matt was able to spot and develop up-and-coming songwriters, inking early deals with the likes of Diplo, Lorde, and The Weeknd. He’ll be tasked with finding similar success at MUSIC.  Matt and I dove deep into a wide-range of topics during our conversation. Here’s a few highlights of what we covered:[2:47] Why Matt created MUSIC[7:19] MUSIC’s investment thesis?[13:22] What Matt doesn’t like about the music business [19:36] Recent inflow of capital into the music business[20:54] Two lanes to entering music business[24:08] Finding left-of-center opportunities among musical talent [27:30] The structural problem of the music business[30:44] Continuity was key to SONGS success[35:59] The Weeknd as a business blueprint for other artists[36:53] Sync business opportunities [43:46] Have streaming subscriptions peaked?[48:12] Tiktok brought back music frequency[51:13] Matt’s five-year predictionsListen: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | SoundCloud | Stitcher | Overcast | Amazon | Google Podcasts | Pocket Casts | RSSHost: Dan Runcie, @RuncieDan, trapital.coGuests: Matt Pincus, @mpincSponsors:MoonPay is the leader in web3 infrastructure. They have partnered with Timbaland, Snoop Dogg, and many more. To learn more, visit is your all-in-one audio super app to hear the trending topics on the entire web. Download for free and use the promo code ‘TRAP’ to receive a 1-month free subscription.Enjoy this podcast? Rate and review the podcast here! is home for the business of hip-hop. Gain the latest insights from hip-hop’s biggest players by reading Trapital’s free weekly memo. TRANSCRIPT[00:00:00] Matt Pincus: Defensibility in the music business is not a patent or a technology or some special recipe you have someplace. It's your understanding of music, the people that make it, and then your ability to develop relationships with people around the business and to keep your reputation such that people want to be with you. But the real key in, at least in the music technology side of it is you need to be able to spin the technology yourself and understand really how it works. [00:00:37] Dan Runcie: Hey, welcome to The Trapital podcast. I'm your host and the founder of Trapital, Dan Runcie. This podcast is your place to gain insights from executives in music, media, entertainment, and more, who are taking hip-hop culture to the next level. [00:00:56] Dan Runcie: Today's episode is with one of the most successful music entrepreneurs of the past few decades. His name is Matt Pincus and he is the founder and CEO of MUSIC, which is a holding company that invests in music tech and music-adjacent companies. MUSIC just launched a 200 million fund to invest in this space, so Matt and I talked all about it. He's looking for companies that still have a clear understanding for how music gets made and understand the art behind it. He's also looking for startups that have a true defensible moat that is something unique that they can do. And he's also looking for the companies that have a huge total addressable market that can clearly grow and expand as we're seeing things continue to grow in this space. Our conversation covered a bunch of topics in this space. We talked about sync and the impact of that. We also talked about how much further streaming can go. And we talked about a bunch of insightful music trends. Really fascinating conversation. I feel like every few months we have one of those conversations where people reach out to me and say, Hey, I took a bunch of notes in that conversation. Thank you for this. And I have a good feeling, I have a good feeling that this is going to be one of those conversations. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Here's my chat with Matt Pincus. [00:02:16] Dan Runcie: All right. Today, we're joined by Matt Pincus, who is the founder of MUSIC, which is a holding company that invested music and music-adjacent companies. Matt, I'm really excited to have this conversation because you have had a very impressive career with what you did with Songs and everything that you had done in publishing specifically. And what always stuck out to me about you in this space is how you've identified opportunities where others didn't see them. So I know when I saw the announcement for MUSIC and the $200 million fund you launched, I said, okay, he's seeing something and he's seeing an opportunity to dive in. So what did you see? What made you want to get involved with this?[00:02:58] Matt Pincus: Well, first of all, thank you so much for having me. I'm a big admirer of Trapital and your work in general. And I'm really happy to be with you here today. So, you know, I started music, it was sort of an organic process. I sold Songs after running it for about 13 years. And it was a fairly abrupt end. So we decided to sell the company and neither me nor my two partners really wanted to run it for somebody else. So we decided that once we sold it, it was time to step away and it was fairly quick. So, you know, I ran the company for 12-plus years. And then 90 days after the sale, I was out in the street, like, what am I going to do with my life? So it was a bit of an organic process. It started with meeting a lot of really interesting founders of music businesses and companies that were around the music business. It's obviously an interesting time in our business in a number of different ways. The streaming market has matured. There are a lot of music tech businesses with interesting founders cropping up over the past four or five years. The web three crypto business has, you know, started the early days of really coming online. And the way that labels, publishing companies, management companies reach audiences is really different than it was like, you know, six, seven years ago. So I met a lot of really interesting people. The first one was Steve Martocci, who was the founder of Splice. He and I hit it off particularly well. And I sort of said, listen, I've been, you know, doing talent deals with young people, you know, in the early twenties for the past 12 years, I think maybe the next chapter is working with founders of companies that are more like 10 years younger than me, as opposed to, you know, 20, early 20s. And taking the experience that I had in the last, like, four or five years of songs when we were trying to figure out how to really realize returns on the business and build on that to try to help people do the same thing. So I was out looking for, you know, are there interesting companies that I might be able to work with in some way or another? And the answer to that quickly became kind of yes, on the music tech side originally, in growth companies, when online music and music technology was shifting to a subscription-based backbone as opposed to a packet software business. And then also on the music side of it, you know, interesting independent labels, music companies operating in a different way. And so the first thing was, are there interesting companies out there? The second is, do they need capital and where would they get it from? And the third was, how am I going to get the money to invest in these businesses? So it was kind of a bit of a bootstrapping exercise where I would go find an opportunity to invest in a company, put some of my own money in LionTree, which sold songs for me and has been a partner and champion of mine since I sold the company, would invest some money too, and then we'd find some other people to round out the investment. We did that first with Splice, put about 20 million into the company over a period of time. We also did in the same way, made an investment in a company called HIFI, which is a FinTech platform benefiting artists in a bunch of different ways, and also with DICE, the ticketing business. And you know, they started, a couple of them did well and actually, they all did well. And so I decided that I wanted to raise some capital and have my own sort of, it's not really a fund. It's more of a holding company 'cause I'm less of an investor and more of an operator. And so the question became, how are we going to raise the money? Now Aryeh Bourkoff who runs LionTree is somewhat of a magic maker, and he took me on and introduced me to two families, the Schusterman Family and JS Capital, which is Jonathan Soros's capital vehicle. And they agreed to invest in a four-way partnership. So it's between me, LionTree, Schusterman Family, and JS Capital. And we formed MUSIC, which is a $200 million holding company. We do deals in a couple of different areas, music tech, which is sort of where I spent most of my time after Songs. We also invest in independent music companies like Songs. So labels publishing companies, management companies. Increasingly, a few of those functions are in one company, as opposed to when I was running Songs, it was like you were either a publisher or a label or a management company. And then we partner sometimes with a larger private equity firm if we are interested in acquiring something that's, you know, o
The first weekend of Coachella is here: Bad Bunny, BLACKPINK, and Frank Ocean will headline for 2023. Coachella is expected to gross well over $100 million with over 100,000+ attendees per day.In this episode, broke it all down withMIDiA Research’s Tati Cirisano. Coachella started in 1999 as a niche festival for indie rock and quickly morphed into the biggest brand-name festival in the United States. These days, the Coachella brand is big enough to sell the experience itself, regardless of who’s performing — a rarity in the festival business.  Tati and I discuss why that is, the implications, and what the future of Coachella could hold. Here’s what we hit on:[1:20] Coachella’s brand sells itself[2:19] Festival’s origin story[7:09] Advantages and disadvantages of performing at Coachella[9:09] Success by the numbers[11:28] Coachella bump for brands, influencers, and local economy[16:38] Untapped opportunities for future Coachellas[22:02] How individual music show prices influence festival attendance[24:22] Artists that are above playing Coachella[27:08] The festival that’s the antithesis of Coachella [31:10] Festival lineups becoming homogeneous [39:36] Predicting Coachella’s 2024 headlinersListen: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | SoundCloud | Stitcher | Overcast | Amazon | Google Podcasts | Pocket Casts | RSSHost: Dan Runcie, @RuncieDan, trapital.coGuests: Tati Cirisano, @tatianacirisanoEnjoy this podcast? Rate and review the podcast here! is home for the business of music, media and culture. Learn more by reading Trapital’s free memo.TRANSCRIPT[00:00:00] Tati Cirisano: Being a performer at Coachella has become almost like a badge of honor or like something that goes on your one sheet, you know what I mean? Like, it's something that like gives you leverage as an artist and also is just, I don't know, seen as like it has a certain level of prestige.Like I would compare headlining at Coachella to like, in the same way that a lot of artists would love to get like a rolling stone or a billboard cover, even if like, regardless of whether that's selling or regardless of what that does, just that as a concept has, is just something that's like on a bucket list for most artists.I feel like headlining Coachella, if you're someone who's trying to be a superstar, that's like a bucket list item too. So yeah, it's, interesting How entrenched this festival has become in the music industry when you really think about it.[00:00:43] Dan Runcie Intro: Hey, welcome to the Trapital Podcast. I'm your host and the founder of Trapital, Dan Runcie. This podcast is your place to gain insights from executives in music, media, entertainment, and more who are taking hip hop culture to the next level.[00:01:25] Dan Runcie Guest Intro: Today's episode is about the business behind Coachella and the unofficial start to music festival season in 2023. Coachella's history is pretty impressive when you think about it. This festival started in 1999. It was announced the week after Woodstock 99, and the shit show that that festival. With just 60 days’ notice to then put on this festival that attracted just 25,000 people and ticket prices cost $50 each, and the headliner was Beck and the festival didn't make it money that year.Didn't even make enough to continue in 2000, and it wasn't until its partnership with Golden Voice in 2001 that it was able to get things back on track and slowly build up to the behemoth of a festival that we see today. It's an event that attracts well over a hundred thousand people per day for the six days of the festival itself.Two straight weekends and it attracts some of the biggest artists in the world. And this year they're especially making its footprint scene on the global scene. The headliners include Bad Bunny, Black Pink, Frank Ocean. There's also artists like Burna Boy, Calvin Harris, and many others that are making up this year's lineup.To break it all down, I'm joined by Tati Cirisano from MIDiA Research. We talk about what this festival does well, how it's shaped music culture overall, and its broader impact on music festival culture. Here's our breakdown. Hope you enjoy it.[00:02:55] Dan Runcie: All right. Today's episode is all about festivals and the granddaddy of them all, at least in the US, Coachella. We're here to break it down with Tati Cirisano from MIDiA Research.Tati, welcome back to the pod.[00:03:09] Tati Cirisano: Yeah, thanks for having me, excited to dive in. [00:03:12] Dan Runcie: Yeah. One of the reasons I wanted to talk about this with you is because I feel like Coachella reminds me of some of the conversations we've had about, a lot of these platforms that they, in many ways have become the bigger brand and the destination than the actual creators on some of these platforms. And I feel like Coachella, at least from a music festival perspective, has some of that because at least in the US this is the most popular music festival.We've seen it expand over the past two decades. And while most music festivals do rely so heavily on their headliners, Coachella is one of the ones that it's still able to, in many ways, capture the same audience and just get a consistent following and culture around it. That doesn't seem like it's stood as dependent on the headliners, but they still get big headliners.So how do you think that shapes the festival and how fans themselves interact withthat festival?[00:04:10] Tati Cirisano: Yeah. I mean, just to like prove out what you're saying, I think, I'm pretty sure Coachella tends to sell out or at least sell a lot of tickets before their headliners are even announced or before the lineup is announced at all. So you're totally right. I think it's become a big enough brand in itself that people are just kind of, ready to buy into it. And I think it's because Coachella has It's kind of created a culture. I remember kind of the celebrity era of Coachella when like, you know, Vanessa Hudgeons was like the queen of Coachella and you could go and run into Rihanna and Paris Hilton and like they kind of created that aesthetic of like the hippie style and all of these things.And so, when people buy a ticket, it's like they're buying into a lifestyle and a culture more so than the music itself. I think a lot of people go for that experience and to dress up and like buy into that, that lifestyle, maybe even more so than the music. and it does seem like Coachella over time, maybe because of that.The lineups have become a little bit more like crowd pleaser and mainstream to me. Like I was looking, just in preparation for this episode, like kind of looking at the history of Coachella and I didn't realize that when it started, part of what Paul Tollett wanted to do was create like a more niche festival where you would bring together like a lot of niche artists and hope that they all have big enough individual following that, you know, putting all that together. Would be enough for a festival. and it seems like the complete opposite today. In many ways like I think Coachella still sometimes tends to have like more left of center artists that line up this year is like super diverse and interesting. But it does seem like they've maybe become a little bit more mainstream over time.And maybe it is because the people are going not as much for the music as they're going for, like the vibe of it all.[00:06:02] Dan Runcie: Yeah, and dating back to that first festival, it's kind of crazy that this even became what it is today because it starts in 1999. They announced this festival and put tickets on sale. I think it was two months before the actual festival started, so not that much time. They announced it the same week or the week after Woodstock 99, which is just a complete shit show, which said so much about where people viewed a festival like this and their headliner was Beck. They didn't make as much money, I wanna say like 25,000 people showed. So they couldn't even have a festival in 2000. They had to wait until the next year and do the partnership with Golden Voice and make it happen.And then, yeah, fast forward to where we are today, where it is mainstream pop artists that are doing it. And what was once this niche culture of people that just really enjoyed indie rock music. It now is this mainstream thing. It almost reminds me of something like Comic-Con in that same way where it was this nerd thing with people that you know wanna do live action, role play, and Dungeons and Dragons, or dress up like Zelda.And now every mainstream celebrity is there to promote their movie.[00:07:19] Tati Cirisano: Yeah. And in the same way, you're going to dress up, you're going to like, kind of put on a costume, Coachella, it is kind of a costume for most people and like have that experience regardless of who's yeah, I totally agree. And I think the other thing, like over time Coachella has gotten to a place because of all that we're talking about, where it has such a, power on the festival market, like written into its contracts, like it has a radius clause that they get to release their lineup first.They are the first festival of the season, mid-April is like pretty early, so there's also now like I think built in ways that Coachella tends to be kind of the North Star for all of the festivals, and so it's just the one that people are going to regardless of, yeah, regardless of who's playing.[00:08:09] Dan Runcie: Yeah. I also feel like because it has a bit more of that brand and that audience command, regardless of who the artist is, I almost feel like it has a little bit of that Super Bowl effect where artists want to be able to perform on that stage because sure, they may bring some fans themselves, but they're likely gonna be reaching a new audience and having exposure to people that may not necessarily have tapped in general compared to, and I think Coachella is similar, but if you compare that to some of these other festivals that are so heavily r
This week, I’m running back an interview I did with Will Page in 2022. It was our most popular episode of 2022 and we talked about a lot of topics that are still timely and still being debated right now in the industry. One of the most unique insights into the state of the music business today doesn’t come from a record label exec. Not from an agent. Not from an artist. No, it comes from Scottish economist Will Page, who served that role for Spotify from 2012 to 2019 — a period of explosive growth for the streaming giant. But if you ask Page about streaming’s future, he’s not nearly as optimistic as the rest of the industry. “The party has to come to an end,” as he told me on this episode of Trapital.Page believes the music industry is transitioning from a “herbivore market” to a “carnivore” one. In other words, future growth will not come from brand-new customers — it’ll come from the streaming services eating into each other’s market share. Not only has subscriber counts possibly tapped out in Page’s opinion, but streaming services have also put a ceiling on revenues by charging only $9.99, a price that hasn’t budged in 20 years despite giant leaps in technology and music catalog size.  That against-the-grain prediction was one of many Will shared with me during our in-depth interview. But he has plenty more research- and experience-backed thoughts on touring, vinyl records, Web 3.0, and everything in between. Believe me, this is an interview you don’t want to miss. Here’s everything we covered: [3:21] The Global Business of Music[4:15] Vinyl Records $1.5 Billion Recovery[08:54] Will’s Bearish View About The Future Of Streaming[14:46] Ongoing Price War Between Streaming Services[18:33] The Changing Economics Of Music Touring [21:44] Performing At Festivals Vs. Tours [24:57] The Evolution Of Music Publishing[28:34] How Music Revenue Gets Distributed To Publishers[32:41] What Does A “Post-Spotify Economy” Look Like? [33:44] The Current Business Landscape Of Hip-Hop Listen to Will’s mix right here: out Will’s Podcast, Bubble Trouble, where he breaks down how financial markets really work.Read Will’s book, Tarzan Economics: Eight Principles for Pivoting Through Disruption.Listen: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | SoundCloud | Stitcher | Overcast | Amazon | Google Podcasts | Pocket Casts | RSSHost: Dan Runcie, @RuncieDan, trapital.coGuests: Will Page, @willpageauthor Trapital is home for the business of hip-hop. Gain the latest insights from hip-hop’s biggest players by reading Trapital’s free weekly memo. TRANSCRIPT[00:00:00] Will Page: When you have 110 million households, and you have more than 110 million subscribers in the United States, then we are in a race to the finishing line before herbivore turn into carnivores.In oil, we have this expression called peak oil, which is we know that we've extracted more oil in the world than is left to extract an oil that's left is gonna be even more costly to get out the ground. I think we're in peak subscriber territory where at some point soon we're gonna start seeing growth happen through stealing other customers as opposed to finding your own.[00:00:29] Dan Runcie Intro: Hey, welcome to the Trapital Podcast. I'm your host and the founder of Trapital, Dan Runcie. This podcast is your place to gain insights from executives in music, media, entertainment, and more who are taking hip hop culture to the next level.[00:01:12] Dan Runcie Guest Intro: For today's episode, let's revisit the most popular episode that we did in 2022. That's the conversation that I had with Will Page. Will Page is the Former Chief Economist for Spotify, the author of Pivot, and Advisor consultant to many of the companies that are leading the music industry today. In this conversation, Will and I talked about a lot of topics that are still timely and still being debated right now in the industry.The price of streaming. Streaming, especially for Spotify, is still $9.99 in the. Pound and Euro in many markets. But Spotify wants to keep that price for several reasons. They want to continue to grow as much as they can. They also want something in return from the record labels. They want some type of concession if they're going to raise their prices.But as we've heard, the push has got louder and louder from the record label CEOs that want that price to increase. So we talk about some of the origins of that debate and where that may be. Then we also talk about some of the competition among the digital service providers as well, whether it's Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon Music, and others.We talk about how it's transitioning from a herbivore market to a carnivore market now that the market's getting saturated. You probably heard that term a bit over the past year that originated from this podcast. So we talk about that a number of other timely things and more we'll eventually have will back on the podcast soon.But this is a nice precursor to refresh the memory a bit and with some of the topics that are still going on in music today. Here's our episode. Hope you enjoy it.[00:02:48] Dan Runcie: Some of the work you've done for a company that is very heavily focused on playlist, which is Spotify, and I think more broadly looking at the streaming era we're in right now.This is a great time to chat because we just saw the IFPI results and streaming as continuing to grow as we've seen. But I feel like you probably spotted a few interesting trends about where things are heading, and I think that's a question mark for a lot of people. Streaming continues to grow, but how far can it grow?What are we seeing in terms of differences within genres or regions? What are some of the things that stuck out[00:03:21] Will Page: to you? I'll give you a couple. The first one is the global business. Well, last time I looked at United Nations, I think there's 208 countries in the world. The global yearbook that we're discussing here has, I think 58.So we have to be careful what we define as global. I think Africa's clubbed together as one continent and where they need to work on that. But I think the global business is growing, but it's also becoming more American. So if you go back to when Spotify launched America, 22, 20 3% of the business round about just over a fifth.Today it's 37%. So we have seen the business grow and become more American, and that raises questions, you know, economic questions like globalization, questions, should poor countries catch up with rich ones? The theory says yes. The reality often says no. So we're seeing this kind of lopsided growth where the business is growing, but it's growing in favor of an American market.The biggest country is growing at the fastest. That's a positive problem, but I just wanna flag it, which is, that's not how it was supposed to play out. And then the second thing I'd wanna point to as well is just vinyl. this vinyl recovery is just, well, I don't know how much my bank balance is responsible for this vinyl recovery, but I'm telling you, Is define the laws of gravity.Now, we're now looking at vinyl being worth one and a half billion dollars, which is more than it's been worth in the past 30 years. It's worth more than CDs, cassettes, and downloads, the three formats that we're supposed to declare that vinyl is dead. But there's two things you can kind of cut out the vinyl recovery, which I think will be of real interest to your audience.Firstly, on the consumer side. I saw a survey which suggested that the majority, just over half of all vinyl buyers today, don't own a record player. I mean, something's cooking here. So what are we buying it for? I'll extend that as well. the cost of wall frames to frame vinyl on your wall often cost more than the record itself.So I'm willing to pay more for vinyl to you know, framed on my wall than I am for the record. And by the way, I don't have a record player. There's a lot of people who will tick those bizarre boxes. But on the crater side, something else is interesting. This'll take a little bit of working through.But if we think about the streaming model, it's monetizing consumption. That's what it does. So if there's an album with 10 songs, three killer and seven filler songs, and an album, and let's say Dan Runcie wrote the Three Killer Tracks and Will Page, he wrote the Seven Duff Filler Tracks. On streaming, Dan might walk away with all the money and I'll walk away from none because we're only streaming the killer tracks and nobody's touching the filler.As the album model kicks out from vinyl, I would get 70% of the cash. That's crazy because nobody knows what's being consumed and it's a lot of cash. If I just kind of do some rough math here of a million fans streaming your hip hop record on Spotify, and let's say they're stream. 200 times in a month when the album drops, you only need 20,000 of them of that million to make the same amount of money from vinyl than you would do from streams, which is entirely plausible.But then how do you pay the copyright owners from those songs on an album is very different from how you pay them on a stream. If you go back to the late seventies, the, one of the most successful records of all time was Saturday Night Fever, the Bee Ges and a bunch of other people. It's crazy to think that Ralph McDonald's Calypso strut his record there, which nobody has listened to, got the same royalty as staying alive by the Bee Gees because it was a vinyl record.So to reiterate, on the consumer, I don't know how many of these vinyl records are being played, and on the crater side, it raises questions about how these craters are gonna getpaid.[00:06:53] Dan Runcie: That's a good point book that I don't think is being talked about as much about the vinyl search because there's so much like wow, about just how much is being purchased.I think I even saw the stat that Adele's 30 album sold 8,000 cassettes. Or there was stuff tied from Stat about that
If you had a billion-dollar fund to buy the full rights, masters, and publishing of ANY music artists — who are you acquiring to maximize shareholder value? This question was top of mind for real-life portfolio managers the past three years as music catalog sales boomed. Now my guest on the episode, Denisha Kuhlor, and I are asking ourselves the same hypothetical question.In this episode, we’re doing a mock music rights draft. Akin to the NFL Draft, each of us getting seven picks. Any artists’ catalog, living or dead, is on the table for us to acquire. Our goal is to score the biggest ROI for investors on a 10-year timeline from purely catalog revenue — streaming, syncs, and partnerships, among other sources. Touring or merchandise revenue isn’t factored in, and neither are future catalog releases, only what’s already been released. As you’ll see on this episode, Denisha and I took very different approaches to our portfolios. One was more “risk on”, while the other was filled with more “blue chips.” Here’s what to expect:[0:01] Draft parameters [4:51] First-round picks[9:42] Second-round picks[14:21] Third-round picks[18:49] Fourth-round picks[21:55] Fifth-round picks[26:04] Sixth-round picks[29:20] Seventh-round picks[37:33] Honorable mentions [52:21] Up-and-coming artistsListen: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | SoundCloud | Stitcher | Overcast | Amazon | Google Podcasts | Pocket Casts | RSSHost: Dan Runcie, @RuncieDan, trapital.coGuests: Denisha Kuhlor, @denishakuhlorToday’s episode was brought to you by Grow your fanbase  and music career with their marketing suite. Get 50% off your first three months by using code: TRAPITAL50Enjoy this podcast? Rate and review the podcast here! is home for the business of music, media and culture. Learn more by reading Trapital’s free memo.TRANSCRIPTDenisha Kuhlor: We've talked about Burna Boy on the podcast before, so don't necessarily have to go over all of his stats, but I think that in one thing I'm finding with people discovering, music from the continent. Is that when they like the artist or there's things they like about the artist or the genre, they go back and listen, to the past catalog.And so I feel like there's still a lot of untouched ground in terms of people discovering his music and listening to his whole catalog and given how timeless in a lot of ways some of his music feels, I think that we'll have new fans discovering him over and over for a long time and getting to also benefit from the upside of that catalog is great.I'll also say, he's pretty feature light as well. He's increased the amount of features that he's had in some of his more recent albums, but even like him, some of his breakout singles, whether Ye or Last Last, were Independence, or songs that he did independently and didn't have people featuring.So I think in terms of some of the big records, there's solo records, which is exciting and that his catalog has a lot of value for people to discover and wanna to.Dan Runcie Intro: Hey, welcome to the Trapital Podcast. I'm your host and the founder of Trapital, Dan Runcie. This podcast is your place to gain insights from executives in music, media, entertainment, and more who are taking hip hop culture to the next level. Dan Runcie: Today's episode is one I am really excited for. This is a music rights draft. We are going to be breaking down the artists that we would most wanna have their music rights for. So today's guest friend of the podcast, Denisha Kuhlor, founder of Stan, her and I are both managers of billion dollar funds and we can acquire the full rights, Masters and publishing to any artist, living or dead.And our job is to maximize value for our investors for the next 10 years. We each get to pick 10 artists and their full rights of music, and we draft them one by one. Denisha, are you ready? How are you feeling?Denisha Kuhlor: I am, I'm super excited for this. like keep racking my head, I think till the last minute with each pick. but yeah, I'm ready to get Dan Runcie: started.Right. It's funny because we're chatting about this yesterday and I almost wonder like if our chat yesterday like shifts anything, it's like, oh, okay. That's how you're thinking about this. Okay. That's how I'm thinking about this.Denisha Kuhlor: Exactly, in a funny way, I have some more compassion for venture investors because I can see how societal shift or even group think can shift your perspective even if just a bit. Dan Runcie: Yeah, it's fascinating, and I mean with this, we did try to keep the parameters of it a bit clear because obviously in the real music rights acquisition world, there are many different strategies about how these firms are buying and acquiring these rights. Some of them are sitting and holding on them, but we are putting ourselves in a different bucket.We are assuming that we have the means to maximize this catalogs and this artist's value through multimedia, through sync, through other partnerships, and just the revenue that it naturally generates as sound recordings themselves. And we assume that we're only acquiring what that artist has released up to that point.Of course, what that artist continues to do in the future may shift the perception of the value of what they've done, but we are only looking at what they've done up to this point. So we're saying that just to lay the groundwork, because someone may be like, oh, what about so-and-so and so-and-so may be an artist that blew up in the past five years.They may not have Steve as a catalog, but who knows? Maybe we'll both have a few of those picks.Denisha Kuhlor: Exactly. Super exciting Dan Runcie: All right, so we are gonna be so a few things to just keep in mind as well for listeners. So a few of the factors you both considered were expected longevity of the artist music themselves, which is a big piece of this. You're acquiring these rights, you're trying to get a sense for what is the music that people are still going to listen to, right?It's one thing if you dominate the charts, that you have a song that takes off, but there's a decay curve. So we're trying to find those artists that have the value, but have the much less steep decay curve as it goes down year over year. There's also a mix too. There's the stable picks, which a lot of the rights go after, which are attractive, but there's also some higher upside picks or some riskier bets.Where do those fit in? And then we're also taken into account the share of the song recordings that the artists actually have given that certain genres such as hip hop or r and b and pop music specifically, there's a lot more collaboration. There's a lot more hands being shared in that pot. So, how does that line up with another genre where that artist may have a higher percentage of those things?All those things get factored into how we pick this. So I'm ready to get started and I wanna give you the first pick so you can go and then I'll go after that.Denisha Kuhlor: Oh, thank you, so my first pick is Mariah Carey. for a few reasons. One, Mariah Carey has one of the most amazing songs in her collection, with Christmas, right? Like it's just being Christmas time, every Christmas, you know, you're going to get, a spike in revenue. Mariah Carey's also been very notable, about talking about that.She writes a lot of her own music, and I don't think how many people realize how much of a prolific songwriter that she is as well. And with the nature of R and B, much to what you talked about earlier with it being collaborative, Mariah Carey seems to be embraced by a lot of rappers for samples.So while I definitely think it will be pricey based off literally, all I want for Christmas, if anything, I think that it's. It's a bit of a safe, but also Sure. Fire and, and stable. expectation revenue. Dan Runcie: That was my number two pick. So we're definitely aligned there. It makes perfect sense because even if you, all I want for Christmas is a big piece of the pie, I wanna say 300 million streams per year on Spotify was the stat that I heard, and I forget the exact revenue number that it generates. I don't wanna quote it, but it's huge.Almost 20 number one singles that she's had. So the longevity's there, and as we know we're talking about this a little yesterday, but there's a reason that catalog isn't one that's getting acquired because, A, the people that own it, and I know she may own maybe some of the more recent stuff. I don't know if, Columbia still owns, you know, the stuff from the nineties, especially given the nature of her deal and stuff like that.But I mean, it's up there, it's definitely one of the most valuable ones. So good. Yeah. Good for you on that one. So I'll take my number one pick here and the number one pick. For this, for me, so much of it was thinking about how millennials and this group are the dominant users of streaming.Streaming makes up a bulk of the revenue for these streaming services. And who is the biggest artist for millennials overall? Just you look at the sheer numbers and everything like that, it has to be Taylor Swift. Miss 1989 herself, I will take those albums, especially these rerecorded ones, Taylor's version, because they'reDenisha Kuhlor: That's just what I was gonna ask.Dan Runcie: Yeah. I may not get Scooter bronze version, but I'll get Taylor's version and I'll keep that. I think that it's rare to find a star that has as much impact as she does that is as recent in this way, I mean, just the pure demand for this Eras tour. She could have done 10 x times the number of shows and been touring for the next five years in a in stadiums and still had plenty of demand left over.And of course, we're not counting touring revenue in this, but it just goes to show how big everything else is. The fact that midnights broke records, both in streaming and in hard sales, I think I saw 230 million dollars that album generated in its revenue. Of course. That her entire rights
Short-form video has exploded in popularity the past three years, buoyed by TikTok. Copycat apps and features are now the norm across social media sites — Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Instagram. MIDiA analyst Tati Cirisano joins me on this episode to break down the ongoing war between short-form video’s main players. The music industry is certainly keeping a close eye on the battle. Short-form video has been a boon for music discovery. Though, many music execs would also argue music has played a big factor in the rise of these platforms, and the industry wants to better monetize that.Tati and I covered all this and more on the show. Here’s everything we hit on:[02:59] Vine paved the way for short-form video[05:56] TikTok filled void in social media[06:53] Factors behind TikTok’s success[10:19] TikTok is an entertainment platform, not social [13:20] Potential pitfalls for TikTok [23:10] YouTube’s biggest advantages [25:53] Overlap between YouTube’s short-form and long-form audiences[29:37] Facebook and Instagram Reels are picking up steam[35:19] Instagram Reels more natural to the platform than YT Shorts[35:35] Meta’s advertising is both a pro and a con[36:39] Active creator vs. passive watcher user bases[38:35] In what scenario does TikTok lose top spot in short-form video war?[41:50] Best platform for artists?[43:08] Best platform for record labels?[44:05] Best monetized platform?[47:11] Will there be a new form of content consumption in the next five years?Listen: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | SoundCloud | Stitcher | Overcast | Amazon | Google Podcasts | Pocket Casts | RSSHost: Dan Runcie, @RuncieDan, trapital.coGuests: Tati Cirisano, @tatianacirisanoThis episode was brought to you by trac. Learn more about how artists can bring web2 and web3 together for their fans at Enjoy this podcast? Rate and review the podcast here! is home for the business of music, media and culture. Learn more by reading Trapital’s free memo.TRANSCRIPT[00:00:00] Tatiana Cirisano: One of my pros to talk about something that I've just, I don't know if this is still true, but something that I've heard from marketers, music marketers in the past is that, Instagram just has more trust with brands than TikTok and other platforms that are new because they've been using it for so long.[00:00:13] They know what the deal is like. It just has, better relationships in that respect. but if that's also leading to more ads on the platform, then it's kind of a pro and a con. [00:00:42] Dan Runcie: All right, today we have a jam packed episode that is about the short form video wars, which platform will come out on top. And I'm joined by none other than Tati Cirisano from Video Research. Welcome.[00:00:55] Tatiana Cirisano: Thanks Dan. Good to be back. Thanks for entertaining another rant of mine, [00:01:00] Dan Runcie: No, this is good. And with what you write about what you cover, you're the perfect person to have this conversation with. There has been so much focus as anyone listening to this podcast, who knows about the influence of short form video, what it does for discovery, for music, for artists, how record labels and all these companies are tackling it.[00:01:19] Now we have several companies that are vying for that spot with similar but different products. But before we jump into TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram, I feel like we gotta give props where it is and give a shout out to Vine because I don't know if we were to be here if it weren't for Vine paving the way, so, oh, gone too soon. [00:01:41] Tatiana Cirisano: you're giving me flashbacks to the Water Malone guy. I don't know if anyone else is gonna remember that, but the specific things that went viral on that platform. Oh God,yeah. We have to give the shout out to Vine.[00:01:53] Dan Runcie: It was the perfect example of constraints, breeding, creativity, six, seven, second videos, and people had whole narratives of storytelling there. It was so unique to see what people were able to do. I feel like at its peak I saw it was 200 million monthly active users, which obviously is a drop in the bucket compared to the services we're about to talk about.[00:02:17] But at that moment, that felt huge. It really was the platform. And obviously I know that Twitter had other objectives and things there, but. It's almost like a little too early as well. I just don't know if culture was like right there. And even music itself with artists, I feel like there was a lot of influencers, but there's a few artists, but not as many that really tapped in where it was really a huge discovery platform.[00:02:41] Tatiana Cirisano: Yeah, and I think also like people weren't so comfortable with creating content at that time, or it wasn't something that was like so readily available. Like now I feel like every teenager just kind of create, thinks of creating content as, you know, just part of the social toolbox. Or maybe they want to be a content creator and that's, you know, that's like a sort of a new aspiration.[00:03:02] But I think at the time of Vine, maybe that's another reason it didn't pop off, is it wasn't like the consumer behavior wasn't there. There were some people that loved to make videos, but I think most people were just watching.[00:03:11] Dan Runcie: Right, and I feel like too, the people that really popped off on that platform, They never quite got as big as some of the people that are on the platforms. We're gonna talk about, thinking about whether, you know, you mentioned someone where thinking about Alphacat or like King Bach, some of the others that were big there, and I know they had moments, but again, it was almost a little bit ahead of its time in terms of them being able to really take off the way things did in the late 2010s and ever.[00:03:39] Tatiana Cirisano: Mm. I'm also trying to remember now because one of the major things that usually comes up for me talking about like why TikTok was so impactful is how it's such, it was such a big deal that it opened to the for you page instead of like a feed of people, content from people you already know. But in my mind, it was kind of like the first major social media platform to do that.[00:03:59] But was Vine actually the first, I don't remember how the feed worked. Was it people you followed or was it just random?[00:04:05] Dan Runcie: I forget. That's a good point. I forget someone listening probably will ping back and say that, oh, it was this way. But yeah, I completely forget. I feel like I remember there are videos I knew from people that I would go back and follow cause they easily wanted to go watch it. But yeah, I completely forget. And even if it was there, I don't think the algorithm had quite enough content to be able to make that happen.[00:04:27] Tatiana Cirisano: Yeah, that's true. But yeah, the history is really interesting cuz you had Vine and then Twitter shut it down and there was kind of this void for people that loved the platform not having something similar. And then musically came around, but it wasn't really the same. It was kind of all focused on lip syncing.[00:04:44] It wasn't, you know, people just making random videos. and I feel like it also had kind of a younger audience, like it was more like middle schoolers than high schoolers. And it just kind of didn't have that same, it didn't reach like the critical mass of, no offense to middle schoolers, but like it didn't have that cool factor[00:05:02] so it's interesting like that happened. And then the timing is so important because I feel like we can't ignore the fact that TikTok launched in the US a few years before the pandemic and kind of reached that critical mass of users right when Lockdowns began. so yeah, I'm glad that you started with Vine cause I think the history is really important to look at.[00:05:24] Dan Runcie: Yeah, and I think the TikTok piece is unique because before TikTok ends up launching in the US, Instagram and Snapchat have stories, which obviously isn't the same as what we're gonna talk about with Instagram having reels. But that vertical video, and I believe that when Instagram first came out, it was 15 seconds, I believe was the limit.[00:05:44] So there was a bit of that trying to copy what Vine was doing to that extent. But then TikTok comes up with, you know, an entirely new platform. And I feel like the concept of a TikTok post is what then brings you to it's, For You page, and just [00:06:00] having that endless content role. Which a reel is, but a Instagram story or even a Snapchat story I tried to do at points, but never quite got there, which is why Instagram and Facebook more broadly has tried to make a pivot into that.[00:06:15] Tatiana Cirisano: Yeah. And it was more about like from music's perspective, it was about users engaging with the music that they're fans of like when TikTok first started to blow up in 2020, it was all dance challenges. It was all people kind of putting their own spin on the songs that they loved, and I feel like that's also different from stories and like the other sort of video, sort of short form video, tools that we had before where it was maybe about[00:06:40] sharing music, but it wasn't about actually engaging with it and putting your own spin on it. And I think that was the other thing that TikTok did that was really powerful from the music discovery standpoint, is inviting people to actually put their own spin on the things that they love.[00:06:54] Dan Runcie: Right. There was a culture that was created around the music and around the content [00:07:00] generation that did not exist in those platforms, right? Like to your point, yeah, you could have had music playing while you're sharing some video that you naturally wouldn't have wanted to share on your Instagram feed, but that wasn't the same as trying to do your own rendition of Old Town Road, right?[00:07:17] Tatiana Cirisano: And there weren't trends like TikTok is so trends focus
The artist-entrepreneur-investor Mr Eazi has no on-off switch. Who he is in the recording studio, on stage, and on the boardroom are the same. With business and music, Mr Eazi has found parallel industries that allow him to be the same person.He’s founded both emPawa Africa and Zagadat Capital to feed his business appetite. The former invests into African artists and helps them scale. Meanwhile, Zagadat Capital invests into tech startups, most of which are inside the continent. Then there’s Mr Eazi, the Afrobeats artist. He’s collaborated with the likes of Beyonce and J Balvin, and also taken center stage at Coachella. After taking time away from music amid the pandemic, Mr Eazi is back in album mode now. Holed up in Cape Town currently, Mr Eazi has plans for two new albums this year.I caught up with Mr Eazi to cover his never-ending pursuits in music and business. Here’s everything we chatted about:[0:22] How Mr Eazi is balancing artistry and entrepreneurship[1:40] Similarities between music and startups[6:19] Taking equity stakes in artists and what an “exit” looks like[10:50] How Eazi measures success for Empawa artists [13:00] Eazi’s investment thesis for startups[18:10] Startup success trends in Africa [21:30] Lack of capital is biggest challenge to Africa’s startup scene [29:45] Raising awareness within the continent[32:20] Biggest obstacle that African artists face [36:52] Uncleared sample on a Bad Bunny song[40:45] Impact of Western companies investing into Africa[47:35] Mr Eazi is in album modeListen: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | SoundCloud | Stitcher | Overcast | Amazon | Google Podcasts | Pocket Casts | RSSHost: Dan Runcie, @RuncieDan, trapital.coGuests: Mr Eazi, @mreaziThis episode's sponsor is Symphony. Put your fanbase growth on autopilot with the first AI-powered platform that brings all your artist marketing workflows in one place. Learn more at this podcast? Rate and review the podcast here! is home for the business of music, media and culture. Learn more by reading Trapital’s free memo.TRANSCRIPT[00:00:00] Mr. Eazi: part of me deciding to be an artist was reading the book, the Jay-Z book, Empire State of Mind. And that was when I saw it clearly and I was like, oh, wait a minute like this music is a business and the music gives you access, it gives you access to capital, access to the network it puts you, gives you a seat at the table[00:00:20] Dan Runcie Intro: Hey, welcome to the Trapital Podcast. I'm your host and the founder of Trapital Dan Runcie, this podcast is your place to gain insights from the executives in music, media, entertainment, and more. Who are taking hip hop culture to the next level.[00:00:48] Dan Runcie: All right. Today we have the one and only Mr. Eazi, the artist, entrepreneur. How you doing man? Welcome to the pod.[00:00:56] Mr. Eazi: I'm good. I'm good. I'm chilling. What's, going on[00:00:59] Dan Runcie: Me. I'm good, man. Trying to keep up with you. Trying to keep up with you, man.[00:01:03] Mr. Eazi: I'm trying to keep up with me, bro.[00:01:06] Dan Runcie: Well, let's talk about that because you are someone who sits at this intersection of artist, investor, entrepreneur, and you are doing all of those three jobs and more. And it's also happening at this moment where the entire continent of Africa is booming from an entrepreneurship perspective, booming from a music perspective.[00:01:29] How does it feel right now? How are you operating being at the center of that?[00:01:34] Mr. Eazi: To be honest, I just feel like it's a blessing to be born or to be existing in this time. where like you said, everything is just like taking shape and, you know, yeah, it's exciting and it is for me. It's like every day I'm seeing opportunity left and right and just figuring out what is fun and what is doable and just, you know, going from thinking, oh, I'm an entrepreneur, to oh, I make music. And, it's similar cause it's products at the end of the day, on the bottom line, it's like you're selling music or you're selling some other product. And I thought they were two different things, but you know, I'm seeing how it's one and the same.[00:02:17] It's just exciting to realize that I don't need to be two different people like I still be the same me and operating both walls.[00:02:27] Dan Runcie: So how are they similar for you approaching both music and startups?[00:02:32] Mr. Eazi: So I feel like every artist is like a. because the artist has a brand, has a feel, it's like a service product, it's an emotional product, right? And every artist, you know, that IP, there's an IP with every artist, and the artist usually needs investment to scale. And like coming from, like when I went outta school straight into an incubator program called 440NG and I kind of, there I learned how, you know your idea and your business, you know, you have the idea, you put it together, you iterate as the business keeps on going. So what you thought was the business at the beginning, you know, your customers could give you feedback and then you realize it evolves, it accelerate and you are trying to be as lean as possible and grow to the point where you have that critical volume to sort of like ask, what's the word as, proof that this is a valid idea either via customers or via revenue. And then you try and get to, you know, you try and scale, and you figure out what's your, unique value proposition is, and that's like where the startup, what's your unique value proposition?[00:03:46] Who are your customers? What's the idea? You take it to market, you test it, you go get investment. And it's the same thing with every artist so at the time where I decided to do music full-time, I was in an incubator program, and so I just started to see the similarities with the music. I'm like, okay, let me test it, put it out, people listen to it, you know, gimme the feedback, you know, and the point where I decided I was gonna take the music as a business was when like I got the first person reach out to me and say, Hey, I want to pay you for a verse. So that was the first signifier to let me know that, okay, maybe I'm onto something.[00:04:22] Then I started to have my early fans then Lauryn Hill reached out and said she wanted me to come play at her show. And I thought it was a fluke until I found myself in America performing in Lauryn Hill, coming out to say, I love you, thank you so much for coming. And like all of that is like with a business, with a traditional startup, it could be different things, but for me, the revenue, the number of users, aka the fans, all of that were signifiers.[00:04:51] And then I just needed, you know, the capital to take it to the next level, right? So I think those are the similarities, and I've tried it when I started emPawa it was at the beginning, it was to test if they were one and the same. So I was like, okay, Y Combinator send, you know, picks a few, start a couple of startups, you know, does incubator program put funding and whatnot to them?[00:05:18] And then maybe 20% of them you know, end up working on, and I did that with 100 artists across 11 African countries, over 30,000 entries then picked 100, then gave them the same amount of money, created the emPawa YouTube channel to host their videos, service it the same way, and in the end, start to see the ones that organically started picking up.[00:05:41] And we had success with that. So for me it was like, oh, wait a minute it's one and the same. I've proved this. And that's when emPawa then turn from, you know, the, program I was doing to actually full service music company, because I had proved that it was the same and in the same way you invest in a song.[00:06:01] I remember the first Joeboy song, the visualizer cost me $500, and then the song ended up having like 30 million views in like a year. And you know, Joeboy just went boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. So, I start to say, okay, there is a process here and perhaps we could do it with other artists, you know? So to answer your question, that's how I see both as, you know, one and the same in a way.[00:06:28] Dan Runcie: That makes sense. And I wanna talk about emPawa specifically because this is you bringing so many of those startup concepts to music like you said, you saw Y Combinator is doing. How could you apply that here? The difference though is that with Y Combinator, the promises of course, an exit, so they're hoping this companies get acquired.[00:06:47] They're hoping that they go public in music though. What does that look like for you as someone that is taking equity stakes in the artist? What does your return look like? What does your exit look like?[00:06:59] Mr. Eazi: So, I mean, first off, the return is like when you invest, you know, you invest to create the content, you put it out, put some marketing, and you start to see, you know, the streams coming, the revenue coming, the artist is now doing live shows, getting endorsement deals, you know, you could get four, 5x, 10x multiples, you know, and time.[00:07:24] so that's, one. But secondly, like on a developmental standpoint, you could develop the artist and then a big label comes and says, oh, we wanna upstream. So upstreaming is like a sale. It's like an exit, and you could still have passive rights to get passive income, on the artist. So those are like the kind of like returns and the kind of like exits.[00:07:48] Plus you could just invest in the IP, buy it up, and next thing somebody wants to sample it and then they have to write you a big check. And it could happen now, it could happen in like 10 years, in 15 years time, you know, you could have a record just lined. I'll give you an example, recently the Joeboy record that didn't make it to the Joeboy is one of my artists.[00:08:09] The song didn't make it to his album, and so we then licensed the song to a guy called Lakizon, you know, he puts out the record, you know, there's not s
The gaming industry is larger than music and film combined. We’ve seen big music collabs in Fortnite, Roblox, and more, but there’s room to leverage music even more. That’s been a big focus for Vickie Nauman, who works at the intersection of music and gaming. She consults for major record labels, game developers, and more through her company, CrossBorderWorks. She’s also worked on big virtual concerts, like David Guerra and Saweetie in Roblox, and VR games like Beat Saber.  But there are plenty of friction points between music and gaming. As Vickie said, the music industry likes to get money upfront, whereas gaming is fine getting it on the back-end. Then there’s the long process of clearing music from rights holders to even use in games. It makes it tough to move quickly It’s even more challenging because of how fast technology is changing. New virtual experiences are being created daily, which adds pressure on the music industry to sort this out. Vickie and I covered all this and more. Here’s everything we discussed: [1:40] What attracted Vickie to gaming[2:40] The gaming moment that finally struck a chord with the music industry[4:33] Similarities and differences between gaming and music industries[10:09] Why Travis Scott’s Fortnite concert clicked but others haven’t[9:53] Can gaming have its Kate Bush - Stranger Things moment [15:47] Why the music industry plays catch up to technology[21:33] Clearing 143 writer’s share for David Guetta’s Roblox concert[28:45] Dot-com bubble era of web3[30:45] Music will evolve differently in web3 experiences[36:17] What’s slowing down virtual reality adoption?[41:26] AI is coming at the music industry like a freight train Listen: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | SoundCloud | Stitcher | Overcast | Amazon | Google Podcasts | Pocket Casts | RSS Host: Dan Runcie, @RuncieDan, trapital.coGuests: Vickie Nauman, @vnvnvnvnThis episode was brought to you by trac. Learn more about how artists can bring web2 and web3 together for their fans at trac.coEnjoy this podcast? Rate and review the podcast here! Trapital is home for the business of music, media and culture. Learn more by reading Trapital’s free memo.TRANSCRIPT[00:00:00] Vickie Nauman: There are not an enormous number of opportunities for music and games. It's gaming is similar to the music industry where there are a handful of huge, huge, huge gaming studios, and then there's an inordinate long tail of small to mid-size gaming companies and, you know, very, very similar to music.[00:00:19] So the few big studios, a lot of them are doing, you know, licensing and they get music in. But it's been much more common over the years to gaming studios just hire a composer and they just create a song that is right for the mood and the moment in the game, the gaming studio owns it and they're just done.[00:00:40] You know, they don't have to worry about licensing or business models to incorporate music into the games. But I think for the most part, the music industry always likes to get their money up front, and the gaming industry likes to get all the money on the back end[00:00:55] Dan Runcie Intro: Hey, welcome to the Trapital Podcast. I'm your host and the founder of Trapital, Dan Runcie. This podcast is your place to gain insights from the executives in music, media, entertainment, and more. Who are taking hip hop culture to the next level.[00:01:22] Dan Runcie: This episode is all about the future of gaming, and today we'll be breaking it down with someone who understands this space in and out. Vickie Nauman. She is the founder and CEO of CrossBorderWorks, which is her consulting and advisory firm, which works with some of the biggest major record labels, streaming services, and more on the intersections of word music meets technology, gaming, and several other emerging tech platforms.[00:01:47] We talk about what music and gaming's challenges and opportunities are in the future, how games are monetized versus music, some of the opportunities there. We also talk about the music industry itself and why the music industry often sometimes plays catch up with regards to emerging technology, how that impacts her work.[00:02:07] And what it can look like for gaming, to have that huge sync moment that Kate Bush running up that hill moment like we saw on Stranger Things. What could that look like for music in a video game? I think we've seen several successful examples over the past couple of decades, but we'll continue to see more as gaming in the Metaverse, Web three, and AI continue to intersect and influence this space.[00:02:29] Really great episode. It was great to have her share her insights here, and I hope you enjoy it. Here's our chat.[00:02:36] All right. Today we're here to talk about gaming music and so many of the intersections it has, and wanted to talk with someone who understands this space better than almost anyone that I could reach out to Vickie Nauman, who has consulted and worked with many of these companies in music and gaming.[00:02:53] Vickie, welcome to the pod.[00:02:54] Vickie Nauman: I am so happy to be here. I'm a huge admirer of your writing and your work and it's an honor.[00:02:59] Dan Runcie: Thank you. Appreciate that. So what is it for you that attracted you to this space? It's been an emerging space for some time, and it feels like the music industry is now starting to put more emphasis in, but you had been focusing even before the current wave has been there. What attracted you to it?[00:03:16] Vickie Nauman: Well, I've always looked at gaming and I'm one of these people who for years was telling the industry. Gaming is bigger than music and film combined, you know, it is a massive, massive industry and they're, you know, and almost all the monetization is built on low friction, high engagement in-app purchasing.[00:03:37] And so companies are releasing games that are free and they're making billions of dollars. There's, you know, there's lessons for the music industry. I feel like it all fell on deaf ears. People are like, yeah, yeah, yeah, you know, companies come to us and. We wanna license them our whole catalog, and they don't want it.[00:03:53] And so there's nothing for us to do. And then, Marshmello did a set in Fortnite and got 10 million people to listen to his music, and that struck a chord in the, you know, in the industry. you know, and importantly, it didn't necessarily resonate with the digital business people who were always, you know, under an onslaught of new companies coming to try to get rights.[00:04:19] But it was in marketing and a and. and then there was like, it was a moment where I think everyone started to realize the power of gaming and the hundreds of millions and billions of people who are playing games as a new platform in a new way for artists to reach, fans and to break artists.[00:04:37] And it was interesting too because at that time I was working with Beat Saber. and they were this was in 2019 that all of this happened. And, Beat Saber was still an independent studio out of Prague, brand new game. And we were trying to get some of first songs in to that game.[00:04:55] Vickie Nauman: We had worked with Monstercat before and we had these original soundtracks in there, but we didn't have any, huge major label acts and we were trying to license Imagine Dragons. And so I heard firsthand from labels and publishers all throughout that process of like, wow, you know, we really want to do more with gaming.[00:05:16] And I credit a lot of that to Marshmello.[00:05:20] Dan Runcie: And you talked a little bit about how gaming is just so much bigger than music, and part of it is because they're not necessarily selling the content itself. They are selling what you can do on top of it from things you can buy or other things that are less friction. The frictionless, as you mentioned.[00:05:38] Had any of that come up, especially after the marshmallow event? Did any of that come up in any discussions about like, Hey, could this be an opportunity to rethink monetization a bit more broadly? Or maybe think about the bigger picture? What have some of those discussions been like?[00:05:54] Vickie Nauman: Yeah, it's been really interesting actually because they're really in aggregate. There are not an enormous number of opportunities for music and games. It's gaming is similar to the music industry where there are a handful of huge, huge, huge gaming studios, and then there's an inordinate long tail of small to mid-size gaming companies and, you know, very, very similar to music.[00:06:18] So the few big studios, a lot of them are doing, you know, licensing and they get music in. But it's been much more common over the years to gaming studios just hire a composer and they just create a song that is right for the mood and the moment in the game, the gaming studio owns it and they're just done.[00:06:39] You know, they don't have to worry about licensing or business models to incorporate music into the games. But I think for the most part, the music industry always likes to get their money up front, and the gaming industry likes to get all the money on the back end. And so you know, there are these friction points that, you know, marrying a business model into a game is kind of an art because if you've already got an existing model and it's free, or there's, you know, in-game purchases, then how do, you know, do you try to incorporate music into that? Do you just pay the rights holders and get a deal for a certain period of time, or can you create a revenue share and some way to participate in the upside and, a lot of gaming companies are even huge companies are still new to this. And so they're kind of what I would call, like dipping their toes into the pool, you know, testing the waters and trying some small things. And then trying to figure out does this work for us?[00:07:44] Do we need to, you know, do we need to create a big stack of technology to manage the ri
Burna Boy will be the first African artist to headline a UK stadium show when he performs at the 60,000-capacity London Stadium this summer. It’s the latest sign of Burna’s starpower and Afrobeats exploding popularity.The Nigeria-born artist is one of the genre’s biggest stars. Burna has reached this level because of consistency (six albums in nine years), savvy performing strategies, and a headliner mentality. To break down Burna’s rise, I talked to Denisha Kuhlor, founder of Stan, which helps artists identify and grow their fanbase. Stan has used Burna show giveaways to develop insight into his wide-spreading fanbase. Here’s what we discussed:[3:05] What sets Burna Boy apart from other African artists[6:26] Burna’s show at London Stadium[7:26] The Burna fanbase[7:52] Streaming era impact on African music[11:56] Returning to Coachella after 2019 drama[17:05] How Ye incidentally helped Burna break out[19:16] How fame is perceived in Africa vs US[20:45] Fans of Africa’s “Big Three” artists battling each other[21:50] Burna’s “contested” Madison Square Garden sellout[24:11] Possible missteps in Burna’s career[27:54] Projecting Burna’s future shows[32:20] His best career move[38:03] Building record label infrastructure in Africa[44:06] Five-year prediction for Burna’s careerListen: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | SoundCloud | Stitcher | Overcast | Amazon | Google Podcasts | Pocket Casts | RSSHost: Dan Runcie, @RuncieDan, trapital.coGuests: Denisha Kuhlor, @denishakuhlorThis episode was brought to you by trac. Learn more about how artists can bring web2 and web3 together for their fans at trac.coEnjoy this podcast? Rate and review the podcast here! is home for the business of music, media and culture. Learn more by reading Trapital’s free memo.TRANSCRIPT[00:00:00] Denisha Kuhlor: I think it was interesting, him being so vocal in the approach he took, I think a lot of, Ayra Starr did a documentary for Spotify and she's quite big, especially within West Africa. And she talked about touring in the United States for the first time, and she basically said that she viewed it as an opportunity to make someone her fan, right?[00:00:19] Like, just by someone attending her show, her goal was to convert them into a fan. Whereas, Burna definitely takes the approach of, "you should either already be one or recognize my fan base for what they are." I think in his case he's lucky cuz he's been able to back it up. especially when you look at Coachella to now.[00:00:40] but definitely a, an approach that's consistent with his brand. [00:01:11] Dan Runcie Guest Intro: Today's episode is a case study style breakdown on the one and only Burna Boy. I was joined by someone who is a near expert when it comes to the world of Burna Boy, and that is Denisha Kuhlor, who has been on the pod several times, and she is the founder of Stan, where not only does she focus on how artists can engage their fan bases, she's actually been involved with ticket giveaways for Burna Boy's upcoming stadium show in London. So she has insights into what these fans are like, what are some of their preferences? And we talked about all that and more. We broke down, Burna Boy's rise. What are some of the key things to his success? What are some of the challenges? Talked about some of the other moments that he's had that we wanted to talk about.[00:01:57] Where does that stand with him? What is his standout moment and where things could really go for him from here on out? Really great conversation. If you enjoyed the one we did on Cash Money a couple weeks ago. This is something similar, but about an artist who is really having this moment right now, and we broke it all down.[00:02:12] Here's our breakdown on Burna Boy.[00:02:14] Dan Runcie: All right, today we have our case study style breakdown on the one and only Burna Boy, and who else is gonna join me then? Someone that understands him and the work that he's done in and out over the past few years. Denisha Kuhlor Welcome back to the pod.[00:02:29] Denisha Kuhlor: Thanks so much for having me. [00:02:30] Dan Runcie: Yeah, and I wanted to talk to you because you wrote that piece in Trapital several months ago, talking about how artists who have relied on music festivals, maybe there's something that they may regret down the road in terms of actually getting in there and building the true fanboy fan base. And you used Burna Boy as an example of someone that went through this and obviously he's blowing up. He's had a huge year and we've now seen so much growth, especially in the past few years of just how so many African artists have been able to rise and grow platform.[00:03:05] But Burna Boy has clearly been able to hit levels that many others haven't. What do you think it is that has set him apart?[00:03:13] Denisha Kuhlor: Yeah, I think one, just Bruno boy is very compelling, as an artist. I've seen him perform, last year twice. his Madison Square Garden show. Then I got to see him at, Afrochella now, Afro Future, in Ghana. And one, he is a live band, as crazy as that sounds, I feel like that's rare and rarer these days. as consumers, it kind of feels like we've gotten used to maybe a DJ or kind of that accompany accompaniment. So the live band aspect is a huge one for me, and I think he's very compelling on stage and has great, charisma. and then lastly, I kind of feel like he was everywhere this year.[00:03:53] You couldn't really. Escape him, whether it was last, last, as a hit or, him touring so much of the United States. I feel like if you didn't know about Burna boy, maybe a year or two ago, last year was definitely just a true breakout year for him on the global stage. [00:04:09] Dan Runcie: Yeah, I think that makes sense. I think there was a couple other things that stuck out to me too. So he has been able to position himself as a leading man. I am the person that's headlining. I'm not just gonna be the person opening for the artist. gonna be the person that is doing the guest first.[00:04:27] And I do think that's some of the other artists who rose up from Africa, they have done a bit more of the, "okay, let me jump on the Drake verse. And then that becomes Drake's or things like that." although I know that Burna has done several guest appearances and feature shares, it hasn't been in that same way.[00:04:45] And I think he's still just been so focused on himself in that way. And of course it could take a little bit longer to develop, but it's almost like how in Hollywood you may see someone that is always positioning themselves as supporting acting roles. If that's where you're taken to blow up, it could be hard for the industry to see you.[00:05:04] The lead actor, but if you're willing to do the lead actor roles for the smaller things and you get the right thing, then you become seen as the lead actor on the big I feel like that's [00:05:14] been his experience. [00:05:15] Denisha Kuhlor: I'm totally aligned with you when, just based off you talking about that makes me think about some of his features on the continent. And he's largely broken those artists, right? You look at Bnxn,formerly known as Buju, right? [00:05:27] And the Lenu remix who was signed a Burna. I first heard about Amapiano,because Burna Boy got on the Spoon, No No remix, and one of the biggest breakout stars of the continent, Asake, the Zumba remix, this year. So I agree, I think he's positioned his features as more as like, let me lend a helping hand and let me get your distribution and your visibility. But if I was. In African artists or emerging artists from the continent vying for a feature in some ways, I'd probably wanna Burna feature over potentially a big artist from the west. [00:06:04] Dan Runcie: Yeah. And I think a lot of that is with his. And his persona, and we can get into that in a minute, but I that played into a lot of this. And as you said, he's been every run the past year and we're setting stage for an even bigger 2023 where he will do his stadium tour at London Stadium, the first African artist, a headline and do that.[00:06:26] What does that mean for his career?[00:06:28] Denisha Kuhlor: Yeah. One, I think it's just huge and a testament to how far music from the continent has grown. I think, you know, you look at the story or how people paint the narrative of how music from the continent has grown. And so often it's kind of like, oh, there's a population of people here or there's little, you know, subsets of people that are interested in the music.[00:06:51] Whereas now, it's makes it very clear that this is world music, right? This is pop music in a lot of ways in that people have embraced this music in the same way you look at, Latin music, right? And people are singing whether they know Spanish or not. I think it's really a testament to the ability to do that. So it's very exciting. [00:07:13] Dan Runcie: Yeah. I think you've also had a front row seat to this as well, because with your work at Stan, you've been doing ticket giveaways and things like that to really tap into who the Burna Boy super fans are.[00:07:26] Denisha Kuhlor: Yeah, so we've found two things working with Burna Boy fans or Burna Boy fan pages. Is that, or maybe even three. I find that one you have the fan that maybe, it reminds them of home. So typically a fan with roots or ties back to West Africa or Africa more broadly, who's now living abroad or first generation, but there's a sense of nostalgia or home as a result.[00:07:52] I think you also have fans that are like learning or being introduced to, Africa. Through his music, which has been really fascinating and really cool to see us talking to a fan, based in France, right? That like taught herself pidgin and like wants to visit Nigeria because she's such a big Burna boy fan.[00:08:11] and that's also really, really cool to see. And then third, I think you just have like hometown pride, right? Like you look at people in Lagos or even other Afric
In music, web3 hype may have cooled over the last year but there are still builders in the space making moves, like trac’s founder, Cardin Campbell. Trac is one of our sponsors for Trapital, and it was great to have Cardin on to discuss how music tech startups see the big picture and are approaching this. trac is a music distribution service, but it wants to bridge web2 and web3 together in a way most distribution services aren’t.Cardin sees an opportunity to digitize how royalty payments are made without disrupting the Web2 experiences on Apple Music and Spotify. That can remain, while blockchain technology adds a layer to bring an artist’s superfans around for the journey.In this episode, we discussed web3 music — what was overhyped, what has lasting value, and where things go from here. Here’s what you can expect: [2:57] Finding a wedge in web3 music [5:17] What people get wrong about web3 and ownership[9:25] SEC challenges with NFT royalties  [12:04] Most music fans don’t want to invest in artists[15:31] Where web3 and web2 meet in music[19:13] Building trac’s platform [21:37] Benefit of artists “windowing” music releases[25:59] How trac sets itself apart[32:15] Artists “moving on” after reaching success [34:54] What’s most exciting in web3 right now[36:22] Biggest friction points to web3[41:05] Projecting trac’s revenue mix between web2 and web3[44:38] How to follow trac’s processListen: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | SoundCloud | Stitcher | Overcast | Amazon | Google Podcasts | Pocket Casts | RSSHost: Dan Runcie, @RuncieDan, trapital.coGuests: Cardin Campbell, @iamcardinEnjoy this podcast? Rate and review the podcast here! is home for the business of music, media and culture. Learn more by reading Trapital’s free memo.TRANSCRIPT[00:00:00] Cardin Campbell: Success means, you know, you as an artist can make a living doing your art, and whatever the national average is in terms of salary per year, we want every artist on track at that level to get to that level of freedom and beyond.[00:00:17] yeah, we're building for that success story. and then some that's like the bare minimum for us. But yeah, we hope to create, you know, the next superstar. Not create, but we hope to help support the next superstar by giving them the tools to make the business side and, you know, management side of their catalog super easy.[00:00:35] Dan Runcie Intro: Hey, welcome to the Trapital Podcast. I'm your host and the founder of Trapital, Dan Runcie. This podcast is your place to gain insights from the executives in music, media, entertainment, and more. Who are taking hip hop culture to the next level. [00:01:03] Dan Runcie Guest Intro: Today's episode is all about where Web two and Web three meet each other in the music industry. It has been a rollercoaster past couple of years in terms of NFTs Web three Crypto and how all of it makes sense for artists, musicians, record labels, and more to help make sense of where we are and where things are going.[00:01:21] I sat down with Cardin Campbell, who is the founder of Trac is on a mission to empower artists to reach their fans more closely than ever, whether that's by distributing their music directly to the digital streaming providers or through NFTs so that their most passionate fans can get early access and a small ownership stake in their music moving forward.[00:01:42] Trac is also one of sponsors, so it was great to be able to talk with them about their solutions more deeply and how they're serving artists. In this conversation. We also talked about some of the other challenges that happened with music distribution, such as when you have those superstar artists, how do you keep them on board?[00:02:02] We also talked about broader trends in web three, where things are going, what some companies are getting right, wrong, and more really great conversation. I like the way Cardin sees things. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Here's my chat with Cardin Campbell.[00:02:17] Dan Runcie: [00:02:17] All right. Today we got a full conversation on deck. We're gonna talk about where Web two, when Web three, meet each other with someone that is living and breathing this every day, Cardin Campbell, founder of Trac. Welcome.[00:02:29] Cardin Campbell: Thank you, thank you, thank you. Good to [00:02:30] be here.[00:02:31] Dan Runcie: Yeah, definitely. I feel like you and I have had a few conversations about this, and the industry's been in such a fascinating place right now. You look at the past year and a half with Web three, crypto NFTs. It's been a rollercoaster in terms of where the industry is, where people stand, where companies stand, and where they're focusing on.[00:02:51] How do you feel like we are right now? What's your macro take on where the industry is right now with regards to web three?[00:02:57] Cardin Campbell: I think the industry's in an interesting place. I think we're still trying to find that wedge of where web three or this concept of Web three, you know, aids music in any way. You know, I think a lot of people, are trying to think of it like this separate space and you know, this place where you can sell more of stuff and generate more revenue for the industry.[00:03:19] And I think that can happen, but I don't think it's going to happen in a way that we've been approaching it to date, you know, but yeah, I think we're still trying to find out which ultimately is where we currently are.[00:03:30] Dan Runcie: Yeah, I think one of the challenges was that there were so many cool and nifty ideas that people had about what something could look like, but at the end of the day, you needed to have a real functional aspect that would add value in a way that you are either making something easier for the consumer or you are making it more unique in a way.[00:03:49] And I feel like a lot of the things that are being pushed, were more focused on, oh, here's this cool, almost wonky idea of what something could look like as opposed to, boom, here's a fundamental shift change into how things were and how things could be moving forward.[00:04:04] Cardin Campbell: Yeah. [00:04:05] Yeah. It's really like, you know, the classic case of entrepreneurship and startup, right? It's like you try to find a problem to solve and then solve that problem, whereas with web three, there's so many cool things you could do. And people were just like building cool things and then trying to find a problem, you know, later.[00:04:24] Right. So I think that's why we're still trying to find our wedge in the whole space, but because it's just been a case of, "Oh, we can do this and do that and like, wouldn't this be nice?" You know, but not really centralizing, you know, the focus on problems to solve, right? And then solving them.[00:04:39] Yeah.[00:04:40] Dan Runcie: And as you look back on it yourself, as someone that's been following the industry to to a deep extent yourself, do you feel like there are parts where you yourself are like, huh, maybe I had overstated where I thought this was gonna go? Because I think that each of us probably bought into some of the height and potential to at least some extent.[00:04:57] Cardin Campbell: Yeah, [00:04:57] so I still feel like we have, we've got it right to a degree, and I'll explain, right, so a lot of people approach Web three music in this like way of thinking of it like it's another medium, you know, for people to consume music, to buy it, like it's a collectible and I think that's the wrong approach.[00:05:17] That's just my personal feeling. I've always thought that, and probably will always think that until I'm convinced otherwise, right? Because you can't really treat it like a new medium. When Spotify and Apple, you know, has the fan experience, you know, being the best it's ever been, like I feel like discovery has been solved, do you know what I mean? Like the algorithms and all the things that they provide to help you discover new music and just have access to all the songs, right? There is the best it's ever been. So companies that's been approaching it where they're thinking, oh, web three, we can generate NFTs out of songs and sell them.[00:05:56] I don't know that that's it. like, I hope I'm wrong cause it feels like an opportunity, right? To generate more revenue for the industry but I don't think that that's it because we've seen iTunes come and go, right? they were selling a digital file that was the MP3 for a dollar and that was cool for its time.[00:06:12] But then we shipped to streaming, they bought beats and turned into Apple Music and, right? Like it shifted. So I don't think that that's it. And I think that's where a lot, you know, the focus has been, and I think that's where people are getting it wrong. Because it's not, another, you know, medium, so to speak.[00:06:29] Dan Runcie: That's a good point because I do think that part of the reason that streaming took off, and a lot of this was in conflict of what Steve Jobs himself thought. He of course, is one of the big proponents of iTunes, and I think for its time, iTunes especially, when did it launch 2003? I believe that was the answer at the time.[00:06:48] You could buy your favorite song for 99 cents or a $1.29, whatever it was at the time. But after a while, consumers really didn't wanna do that. And I feel like one of the reasons why Spotify worked, granted, I know that the company has had its own ups and downs over the years, but one of the reasons why I think Spotify works is because it met consumers where they were at. People wanted to have access that at the time mattered more than ownership. So some of these things that are going back more to ownership, like whether it's companies or models that you're referencing, it brings us back to that. And it's not that people don't wanna own things.[00:07:22] They clearly do. You see the boom of vinyls and other things. It's just not ownership in the way that we may have thought, or that
The Techstars Music accelerator just announced its 7th cohort. As the program’s Managing Director Bob Moczydlowsky told me on this episode, they don’t invest in music companies. They invest in companies solving problems for the global music business. There are 10 companies that involve music in some way, including — education, web3, and even wedding celebrations. Each startup gets a $120,000 check from Techstars and hands-on development for 90 days. Past portfolio companies include Community, Endel, and Splash among many others. According to Bob, the program has returned a 3X multiple on invested capital since starting in 2017. Companies that went through the accelerator have gone on to raise an additional $250 million in capital after the accelerator.Here’s what we hit on:[0:00] How the accelerator has evolved [7:56] Investment areas that have underperformed [9:02] Is there a ceiling on music innovation? [12:38] Minor-league scouting, major-league swinging[17:07] Repeating motif of investments[18:11] 2023 accelerator cohort is “weirdest class ever”[28:49] The case for remote teams[31:44] The surge in capital from outside music industry[37:46] Music is less sensitive to macroeconomic conditions[40:39] Return on music accelerator vs. other Techstars programs [43:32] Techstars LP’s becoming more experimental [48:01] Hip-hop business mentors wantedListen: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | SoundCloud | Stitcher | Overcast | Amazon | Google Podcasts | Pocket Casts | RSSHost: Dan Runcie, @RuncieDan, trapital.coGuests: Bob Moczydlowsky, @bobmozThis episode is brought to you by Amuse. Learn more about how its new program Music Insights can help your artist career: this podcast? Rate and review the podcast here! is home for the business of music, media and culture. Learn more by reading Trapital’s free memo.TRANSCRIPT[00:00:00] Bob Moczydlowsky: We have to invest in something that isn't fashionable but looks like it's before it's time, might even look a little crazy. And that's the where we can add a ton of value. And then it's our job to help to look back three years later and go, oh yeah, there it is but of course we saw that all along.[00:00:13] Like, same thing with generative media. We've been making generative media in investments since the very first year of the program and about half of them are really interesting, valuable companies now. And it took a long time for the red, the market to sort of catch up to that. and then, you know, ironically, my problem is as a small check investor just at the moment where I know that space really well and I can be really helpful and we have a good portfolio there and a community of people to connect new founders too. Now that the category is hot, we can’t afford it anymore.[00:01:07] Dan Runcie's Guest Intro: Today's guest is the one and only Bob Moczydlowsky, but if you're in the space in the industry, you probably know him as Bob Moz. He is the managing director of the Techstars Music Accelerator, and he recently announced the seventh cohort that they have for the accelerator, which includes a few companies here, let me just read the names here.[00:01:26] Baton Media, Beeper, Confetti, 5ive Mics, Haven, Highly Liquid, Homeroom, Obey Me, Royalty, and Seed. So Bob and I talked about what went into these companies, what are some common themes that went into this cohort and how this cohort has changed over time. This is now the seventh year that Bob has been running this accelerator.[00:01:48] So he's gone through the bull market of startup investing. The growth of streaming and how each of those things have impacted. So what are some of the trends that have been the most lucrative for him? How he's evaluated on his returns, how his LP mix has been shaped and shifted over time, and some general trends and some common misconceptions that people hear and think about when it comes to investing in music companies and companies that are trying to solve problems in music.[00:02:16] Great episode, especially for the founders, investors and builders out there. Hope you.[00:02:22] Dan Runcie:[00:02:22] All right. Today we have Bob Moz, who is the managing director for Techstars Music Accelerator. Bob, first time on the podcast.[00:02:31] Bob Moczydlowsky: Thank you very much for having me. I am a, longtime listener. I'm kind of thrilled to be a guest. It's very cool.[00:02:37] Dan Runcie: Yeah, and I think it's great to talk to you right now because you have the new cohort for Techstars Music Accelerator now, but you've actually been doing this now since 2017, and I think that. It's been interesting to just to see how much has changed in your role, but more broadly with music. You had this bull run, you had streamings rapid growth, and I'm sure with that, there's been so many different evolutions of how this cohort and how the companies have shaped over time.[00:03:06] What's been your read on that? How has the accelerator evolved over time?[00:03:11] Bob Moczydlowsky: Oh man, that is a gigantic question right out of the gate. so when we started the program in 2017, part of the thesis was. and it is still sort of the dirty secret of Techstars music. Like, we're not really here to invest in music companies or music tech startups. We're here to invest in startups that solve problems for the global music business.[00:03:31] So we wanted to be five to seven years ahead of, where new revenue streams would be. New audience interactions would be. we wanted to be really, really out there on ways kids could express themselves and, and or make new music or how rights holders would monetize that music and I would say that heading into our seventh class, like any, you know, venture fund, we made a bunch of mistakes.[00:03:54] we are happy to have some really valuable companies in the portfolio that are changing the way the music business works, like Splash and Endel, and community. And so the winds have come from the places we didn't expect, with maybe the exception of generative media. We can talk about that a a little more.[00:04:11] Bob Moczydlowsky: We were into that from the beginning and we've, remained into it though I can no longer afford any of those deals because that's kind of a popular category. So I think I'm kind of out of those deals now. But in general, like the wins came from places we didn't expect and the defeats came in places we thought were gonna be great spots, right?[00:04:28] So what we have learned is that you really have to focus on the quality of the team. You really have to focus on the opportunity and how that company can capture value in the market. And then you have to be patient, and just, and remember that one email, you know, with a yes on it. One phone call with a yes changes the fortunes of companies.[00:04:48] Pre-seed, seed stage, you know, one feature, one good, dev sprint, where you actually really, you know, solve a problem for your users, changes the trajectory of the whole company. So, I would say that we have, put ourselves in a position now where we ha like our thesis is defensible, our portfolio value is real, and we have an incredible list of people who have come through the program and touched it in some way that.[00:05:12] make a lot of really important decisions in the music business. So mostly it's just, I feel old when you say that, and I just feel super grateful that we get to do.[00:05:20] Dan Runcie: Well, you said a few things there that I wanna dive into about the wins and the losses being opposite from what you may have expected on either side, and I think that's a thing I've heard from other investors and VCs, but specifically with this accelerator, are there certain trends that stuck out for things that you thought would've been a big bet but didn't end up turning out?[00:05:43] Bob Moczydlowsky: Well, know, we were really excited about adaptive music and it's changing and matching your biometrics and pairing that with fitness that hasn't really come to fruition yet. . I'm optimistic it still might, but it hasn't so far. we were super optimistic that the using DSP streams to make mixes would allow, DJs to create and express themselves and create new content and repurpose music, and that wouldn't be considered a derivative work.[00:06:08] And you could give full credit stream back to the rights owner, and that would be a way to deepen engagement and maybe add a couple of bucks to the monthly subscription fee of a larger DSP. That hasn't happened really, you know what I mean? or come to fruition. it has taken longer, than we've expected for someone to make a hit song using generative media and AI, though, you know, it sort of perpetually feels like it's right around the corner.[00:06:33] but I think in that category, you know, I think we were just wrong people were gonna use generative media and AI to make songs. and instead they were going to use it to become artists and play games. and so we've learned a lot there where, what the thing we actually learned, and I say "we", but what I really mean is the splash team.[00:06:50] Bob Moczydlowsky: And Steven and Angus, I'm a passenger in that, right? So I say "we" a lot, but those guys do all the work. you know, what they realized was that kids don't wanna make songs. Like no kid is going out there looking for an AI to make a song. they're looking for an AI to help them do[00:07:05] several of the things that it require that are required to be an artist and grow a following and have people pay attention to you and express yourself. And they went and built a whole game around, okay, well then here's all the parts you need to DJ set. Here's the ability to perform in front of people.[00:07:20] Here's a framework under which those performances are judged. And that became a wildly popular game. And so it turns out that like in the gaming world, you might use an AI to control both sides of the copyright, to give the player the fre
The biggest stage in music is still the Super Bowl Halftime Show. In 2023, that stage belongs to Rihanna. This is a noteworthy show for multiple reasons.Rihanna hasn’t released an album since 2016’s ANTI, which was a TIDAL exclusive! Seven years is a long time. She has since built two billion-dollar brands with Fenty Beauty and Savage X Fenty, and recently became a mother. Could this be the start of a music comeback for RiRi?A few years ago, Rihanna famously turned down this opportunity citing her support of Colin Kaepernick. But that was before Jay Z’s Roc Nation entered into an agreement with the NFL to produce the show in 2019. That relationship — Jay signed Rihanna to her first record deal at 16 — likely patched things up.This performance is also noteworthy since it's Apple Music’s first year as sponsor, taking over from Pepsi’s decade long-run. To unpack it all, I brought on Louie Mandelbaum aka DJ Louie XIV. He’s a pop music connoisseur and breaks down the genre on his Pop Pantheon podcast. Here’s what we covered on the episode: [1:38] How Rihanna has stayed relevant without releasing music[4:49] Factors behind Rihanna’s cool factor[13:18] Where will Rihanna’s performance rank among Super Bowl halftime performances?[18:03] Evaluating Roc Nation as halftime show producers[26:47] “Chaotic” MTV-era producing halftime shows [28:59] Apple Music’s impact as first-time show sponsor[32:52] Is performing at the Super Bowl still the biggest stage?[37:15] Is Rihanna finally returning to music?[45:32] Predicting future Super Bowl performersListen: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | SoundCloud | Stitcher | Overcast | Amazon | Google Podcasts | Pocket Casts | RSSHost: Dan Runcie, @RuncieDan, trapital.coGuests: Louie Mandelbaum, @DJLouieXIVThis episode was brought to you by trac. Learn more about how artists can bring web2 and web3 together for their fans at trac.coEnjoy this podcast? Rate and review the podcast here! is home for the business of music, media and culture. Learn more by reading Trapital’s free memo.TRANSCRIPTION[00:00:00] Louie Mandelbaum: I would say there's three moments that really stand out to me, maybe four. the first is I do believe from the jump, she always had the coolest records from Pon de Replay on like Rihanna, Pon de Replay, SOS, Unfaithful. These were like very state of the art cutting edge, well-made. Cool pop songs. She always had that going for her.[00:00:23] I think from the jump, but I don't know if that necessarily translated into her celebrity persona. I think that began to emerge around her third record, which is 2007s Good Girl, Gone Bad. I think Umbrella kind of to me stands as like the moment where Rihanna went from sort of upstart to like true.[00:00:39] Kind of a-list Pop Star, that record is obviously widely considered to be one of the best pop songs of the 21st Century For Good Reason. [00:01:15] Dan Runcie Guest Intro: Today's episode is a Super Bowl special. This is all about Rihanna, the halftime show, and how this show has evolved over the past few years. I was joined by DJ Louis the 14th, who is the host of the Pop Pantheon podcast, and him and I talked all about what do we expect from Rihanna? This is the first big music thing that she's done in quite a few years.[00:01:35] What do we think? Where this show will sit in terms of other performances that have been historic in the Super Bowl, this is now gonna be the fourth Super Bowl that Rock Nation has done. What do we think about the job that they've done? This is the first year for Apple Music. How have they been doing and what do we think we'll expect from them moving forward?[00:01:53] And also, We all know about the Super Bowl bounce, what artists do the year after the show. So what do we expect from Rihanna for the next couple of years after the show? What do we expect to see from the show moving forward? And we make some predictions at the end on who we think would be some dope Super Bowl performances that we could likely end up seeing in the next couple of years.[00:02:14] Here's the episode. Hope you enjoy it.[00:02:16] Dan Runcie: All right. Today we have the pop culture expert himself, DJ Louie the 14th here with us. Today he's hosted the Pop Pantheon podcast, and he was the best person that I had that I wanted to talk about this upcoming Super Bowl halftime show with the one and only Rihanna. So Louie, we're talking a little bit before we recorded just about her and how, I know she's someone that you can riff on for a while, but it would be good to start with where this fits with Rihanna's career right now, because she's someone that, I think it's almost gonna be seven years since Anti came out at this point, that at least the Super Bowl halftime show would've happened. I know she had the Black Panther song, but it's been so long since she's released new music, but she's still stayed so current.[00:03:04] What do you think it is about her that just keeps that.[00:03:08] Louie Mandelbaum: Dan. Thank you so much for having me on the show. So glad to be speaking with you. What I think is Rihanna's number one currency as a pop star, you know, like lots of pop stars have sort of a thing that. Is the engine behind their stardom, you know, for someone like Taylor Swift for instance, I would say it's her songwriting chops.[00:03:28] That's like the thing that everybody turns to about her. For Beyonce, it's kind of her epic performance abilities. Like, not to say they don't have other attributes that, you know are working towards their success, but they're sort of like a main thing with all of them. I tend to think, and to me Rihanna's has always been her cool factor, like Rihanna is the coolest pop star of her generation, and she's never been the most traditionally talented at any of like the musical aspects of all of it. Like she's not like a generational songwriter. She's not a particularly like gifted dancer, you know, she's a very distinctive, but not traditionally powerful vocalist necessarily.[00:04:13] So Rihanna's thing has always been that she is genuinely cool, like in a way that isn't put on or try hard in any sort of way. And I think that allows her to have a certain amount of interest in everything that she does, even when she's not making music. And of course, she's done a really fantastic job of building out her brand identity outside of just being a pop star through the success of her various fashion lines, Fenty Beauty, Savage, all of that stuff.[00:04:47] Has allowed her cool factor to like disseminate through culture without her necessarily releasing music. But I think the most important part when it comes to her returning to music is that unlike other pop stars of her generation, say like a Katie Perry, who definitely does not run on Cool factor, I think that Rihanna is appealing to pop's core fan base, which has shifted out of her specific generation. So like since Rihanna's released new music, like there's an entire new generation of pop fans that are now like the kind of core center of pop music that were very, very young last time that she released music. But I think Rihanna's cool factor.[00:05:28] I guess my hypothesis is that Rihanna's cool factor can allow for her to potentially be someone that they'd be interested in engaging with on new music in a way that they wouldn't, for somebody like Katie Perry or even someone like Lady Gaga, or even someone maybe even like Beyonce, I think that her cool factor creates the circumstances where perhaps people will still be engaged and interested in her releasing new music, despite the fact that it's been such a long time.[00:05:56] Dan Runcie: When do you feel like that cool factor emerged? Because I agree with you. I think there is something intrinsic about her that just pulls people in and thinking about her career, it's almost been 20 years now. She came on the scene as a teenager and, of course, I think that in the early years we do start to see a bit more of the record label created person, and you don't see as much of the personality, but over time you start to see that.[00:06:20] When do you think that shifted? Whoever's like, oh, here is the Rihanna that is showing us why she's the shit and other people aren't quite at that level.[00:06:30] Louie Mandelbaum: I would say there's three moments that really stand out to me, maybe four. the first is I do believe from the jump, she always had the coolest records from Pon de Replay on like Rihanna, Pon de Replay, SOS, Unfaithful. These were like very state of the art cutting edge, well-made. Cool pop songs. She always had that going for her.[00:06:53] I think from the jump, but I don't know if that necessarily translated into her celebrity persona. I think that began to emerge around her third record, which is 2007s Good Girl, Gone Bad. I think Umbrella kind of to me stands as like the moment where Rihanna went from sort of upstart to like true.[00:07:09] Kind of a-list Pop Star, that record is obviously widely considered to be one of the best pop songs of the 21st Century For Good Reason. It's an incredible song and something that really allowed her specific kind of reading nasally voice to like shine through and like she gave that song a Life that I think even other vocalists couldn't necessarily.[00:07:30] That was a song that famously like got passed around to Britney and Mary j Blige and acon and a lot of other artists. So it's really her plus this song that sort of came together and it was like her cool factor and her specific brand of Rihannaness that really made that song what it was. But I also think in a sort of, weirdly, maybe this is like a sticky and difficult or chewy idea. But I do think in the wake of what happened between her and Chris Brown, which was obviously like a horrific public experience, and you know, a very difficult thing for her to parse through. And for the public who, you know, were experiencing her at like one of many zeniths of her caree
The playbook for artists to go viral on TikTok has changed a lot since 2019. Sean Taylor aka “BrandMan Sean” has written and executed that playbook for his clients since the early days of TikTok. He’s the co-founder of the ContraBrand Agency, which specializes in TikTok marketing for music talent. The agency has helped artists like Macy Gray, 24kGoldn, and Trap Beckham, among others.Sean and his team just released a global report on How Artists are Going Viral on TikTok. The report is packed with insights on artist virality on the platform. According to the report, artist-generated content (AGC) is the key to going viral today. It’s more impactful than not user-generated content (UGC) from fans and other users. AGC not only works, but it’s also a cost-effective way for independent artists to break through.However, Sean points out that virality isn’t as easy as before. TikTok has matured, and overnight success is harder to achieve. Still, with the right strategy, Sean believes TikTok is still a second-to-none top-of-funnel marketing play. We broke down this tested TikTok system in our discussion. Here’s everything we covered about the platform:[1:51] TikTok entering its maturation stage[5:39] Second wave TikTok music artists vs. first wave[9:10] Biggest shift on TikTok for artists[17:13] No, artists don’t have to post dance content[24:00] YouTube shorts lack of culture[26:29] YouTube’s advantage over TikTok[31:31] The problem with IG Reels[33:32] TikTok pushing Google for search dominance[38:55] TikTok as a marketing funnel[42:21] The rise of TikTok live[46:10] Predicting where TikTok will be in three yearsHow Artists are Going Viral on TikTok in 2022 report: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | SoundCloud | Stitcher | Overcast | Amazon | Google Podcasts | Pocket Casts | RSSHost: Dan Runcie, @RuncieDan, trapital.coGuests: Sean Taylor, @brandmanseanEnjoy this podcast? Rate and review the podcast here! is home for the business of music, media and culture. Learn more by reading Trapital’s free memo.TRANSCRIPTIONTrapital #Sean Taylor[00:00:00] Sean Taylor: One of the problems that people were having were them blowing up right? Without being able to connect to an actual face, right? So it solves so many of the problems that come with that, and even helps the problem of TikTok’s algorithm where people just hop on and start running things up with ads and you haven't really even understood what your content looks like, that creates some algorithmic problems, which probably aren't worth getting into, here, or maybe they are, but yeah. Man, artists generate content. It's gonna be a love hate relationship for sure with artists, the labels, all of us, right? But, if anything, it'll force collaboration and synergy between teams, in ways that it hasn't before.[00:00:42] Dan Runcie Intro: Hey, welcome to the Trapital Podcast. I'm your host and the founder of Trapital, Dan Runcie. This podcast is your place to gain insights from the executives in music, media, entertainment, and more. Who are taking hip hop culture to the next level.[00:00:42] Dan Runcie: All right, today we are joined by my guy, Brandman Sean, Sean Taylor, who is back on the podcast for a second time now, and I wanted to have him on because there's so much that's happening with TikTok, with short form video and how artists are using it. And his company, the contraband agency just put out a report that dives deep into this, and he talks about this often on his platform, the Brandman Network. So Sean, let's level for a little bit, and I feel like TikTok is in such an interesting place right now, 2023. It's not some of that same rapid growth that it may have had a couple years ago, but it's still so essential for artists. How do you feel about where the platform is right now?[00:01:51] Sean Taylor: I think it's in a really good space actually. It's in a maturation space. The problem with that is people aren't seeing hits come as easy on the platform. and they're actually using that to downplay the platform and say, TikTok isn't that impactful, or it's not that big of a deal. It's hard to get a hit on TikTok. The difference is it's now a normal marketing infrastructure within your whole overall marketing stack. So yeah, there was this hot period where you were getting like gains that you probably didn't even deserve. Right. Every shock, swish, nothing but net. Now you have to do what you're supposed to do in every other space. So I think a lot of the pain that people are feeling isn't necessarily TikTok not being effective. It's TikTok not being unreasonably effective, unbelievably effective. The thing that made me get on TikTok, back in 2019. It's in an interesting space, but I think it's in a good space actually. And I can go deeper into that specific argument and why I see it that way. Cuz there's some numbers and milestones that I kind of think of it and approach it from, but yeah, that's where I think TikTok is right now. It's new, it's a viable marketing channel, but it's not the marketing channel that everybody is going to be as excited about as they were.[00:03:24] Dan Runcie: I'm glad you said this because there's been a bunch of reports about how TikTok has slowed down about how artists are starting to complain, and I've heard many A-list artists, even privately and publicly complain that things are popping the way they used to. But this isn't 2019 anymore. It may take some actual marketing expertise since some clever thinking about how to find things in. I remember one of the reports I said was talking about how you can't just give some post or some link to Addison Rae and then hope that someone like that goes and blows the whole thing up for you and makes you a superstar. You have to find your niches and build from there. And in reading that, it's like, well that sounds like what it's like to grow any type of career, and that's probably how it should be, right?[00:04:11] Sean Taylor: Exactly. Should it be that you pay one person and everything just blows up. Not really. I would love it to be that way for me, you know? But look, that's just the reality of how marketing works. So you can still get that number to grow and get millions of streams, but that millions might come a little bit slower. And now when it hits that 2 million mark, 3 million mark, probably even before that, it's gonna take a lot more heavy lifting to get it over the hump where, That thing could just keep going like a rocket ship straight to 2030 and not stop, right? So it's a great space to get things off the ground and create the spark, but going beyond that spark is more difficult.[00:04:59] Dan Runcie: In past years, we saw record labels signing a bunch of artists that came from TikTok, and I would assume that because of this rocket ship success, people didn't have the infrastructure behind them. A lot of those stories probably didn't end up panning out the way that they thought they would, maybe even at a lower rate than the average hit rate for. Otherwise artists at a record label are assigned. But I would think now that things have matured a bit, the artists that are actually coming to the forefront are likely gonna have more behind them. And because of that, B, the potential to actually maybe have a more sustainable career than that first wave of artists who just benefited from a very aggressive area.[00:05:39] Sean Taylor: Yeah. I mean, I think the thing is people hadn't really seen anything like that before, right? Like yeah, there had been one hit wonder. That has happened and someone who's seasoning the game probably understands what needs to take place. But to constantly have day after day someone popping out of nowhere like a breakneck speed level and trying to figure out how to bring infrastructure up, up under all these artists at the same time is a completely different story. Cuz it's also a different story when you have these artists housed under you, and then things take off really fast. You're taking them, you're trying to create a deal and figure out how to sign them, and then create infrastructure. By the time some of these deals take place, a lot of that moment is already missed, right? So, it was a really weird space, and I'm sure there's labels that have more of an infrastructure that's prepared for that situation. It's like, oh, if we bring somebody in from that particular climate, then there's a specific path that we can take 'em. Whether we expedite some things or we start here versus there, I'm sure that's there. But TikTok was really weird watching in the beginning because you had all these people blowing up and many didn't even wanna blow up, right? Like you had kids just using the platform and blowing up, they were an artist or just a regular influence or whatever you call 'em. They were just doing what kids normally do on apps and became stars overnight, which is very different from the artist who wants to be an artist. And then they take off. These are kids who are in their experimentational experimentation phase, kind of just having fun playing with things. And then it might be a hit song, right in a bed without even them trying to pursue it. So it created this really interesting space on TikTok and unfortunately, where I saw early on there were so many artists I don't wanna say artists, actually, less artists, more general content, creators falling prey to opportunist managers and companies because artists fortunately, have had a lot of education in these pages. I'm not saying artists don't ever have bad deals and situations, but there's a very common knowledge almost at this point that's been put out for artists getting in bad deals, avoiding bad deals, what you should do, in the culture, that education is out there as a regular content creator. That information isn't out there. Right. But it's very similar. So I actually saw like a lot of kids being signed by
Everybody’s got something to say about Cash Money Records and the brothers who co-founded the label —Bryan “Birdman” Williams and Ronald “Slim” Williams. To paint the full Cash Money full picture, good and bad, I brought on Zack O’Malley Greenberg who has interviewed the brothers at-length while working at Forbes.Cash Money has one of the deepest catalogs in the game with several classics. And unlike some other upstart hip-hop labels, Birdman and Slim maintained control as they rose up. Their 1998 distribution deal with Universal is hip-hop’s Louisiana Purchase.But we can’t ignore Cash Money’s lows either. There is a long, long list of artists who claim they were not compensated fairly by Birdman and Slim.Zack and I go through 30 years of Cash Money as a business, its competitive advantage, and what comes next now that Drake and Wayne are gone from the label. [1:44] Is Cash Money the greatest hip-hop record label of all time?[7:34] What people sleep on about Cash Money[11:01] Cash Money’s history of not paying artists [16:52] Did Cash Money succeed because of Birdman and Slim or despite them? [19:29] Biggest signing? [20:29] The 1998 Universal-Cash Money deal [25:31] Lil’ Wayne’s mixtape run[29:03] The benefit of partnering with Republic Records[31:49] Bidding wars for Lil Wayne, Drake, and Nicki Minaj[33:21] Connection with New Jack City [40:56] Cash Money catalog valuation ?[43:00] Lil Wayne’s beef with Birdman [45:48] Can Cash Money strike platinum again? [50:44] Birdman’s love for music [56:08] Hopes for a Cash Money reunion tour and biopic [58:24] Who “won” the most in Cash Money’s history?Listen: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | SoundCloud | Stitcher | Overcast | Amazon | Google Podcasts | Pocket Casts | RSSHost: Dan Runcie, @RuncieDan, trapital.coGuests: Zack O’Malley Greenburg, @zogblogEnjoy this podcast? Rate and review the podcast here! is home for the business of music, media and culture. Learn more by reading Trapital’s free memo.Transcription[00:00:00] Zack: You know, some of the subsequent deals that they worked out with Universal, you know, maybe some of the deals where they were able to get universal to, to tackle some of the back office stuff. I mean, it's very unsexy, but you know, that's clearly an area where they needed to improve. So, let's say,to give some cash in terms of like higher distribution fee in order to have Universal, you know, cover some of this stuff. It's kinda like a boring, dark horse candidate, but you know, I mean, you could say that, that's probably useful in terms of buttoning things up.[00:00:37] Dan Intro: Hey, welcome to the Trapital Podcast. I'm your host and the founder of Trapital, Dan Runcie. This podcast is your place to gain insights from the executives in music, media, entertainment, and more who are taking hip hop culture to the next level.[00:00:57] Dan: All right. Today's episode is all about the one, the only cash money records. I got the one and only Zack Greenberg here who has reported on this company many times before we ran to this company and the business moves they did in our Top 10 Revolutionary list last year. So Zack, welcome back. I'm excited for this one.[00:01:18] Zack: Always good to be here with you, Dan. [00:01:19] Dan: Yeah. So for the folks listening, we are gonna do this in a few ways. We got a bunch of categories here that we're gonna run through, just evaluating Cash Money as a business, some of the highs, some of the lows, and just where they stand overall. But I think it'll be great to kick it off with the question that we often hear from folks is Cash Money, the greatest hip hop record label of all time? What's your point? What's your take?[00:01:44] Zack: How, man, you know, I mean, I think it's sort of like, any of these greatest ever are you talking about, overall body of work or sort of like, you know, The label at its peak. But you know, I think you gotta take it in an overall body of work, you know, type of thing. You know, it's hard to top Def Jam, I think, you know, if you were gonna go with an overall body of work, hip hop, legacy. But, you know, I don't know other than that, I mean, it's hard to say that there's anybody who you'd put above cash money, I'd say. Especially something that is, you know, really artist founded in that same way. I mean, you could talk about Bad Boy, you could talk about Rockefeller. But I think that, you know, Cash Money has staying power. You know, through Drake and Nikki and Lil Wayne and so forth, you know, in a way that, you know, I would argue that a lot of these other labels haven't, and, you know, who else can say that they've had Drake for that long? And I guess he's not there anymore. But man, that was pretty recent development and it's been a pretty great run. So, you know, to go all the way from the early nineties, you know, through basically now being relevant, stacking up all that catalog, you know, it's certainly, if not number one, it's, you know, gotta be top three, if not top two.[00:03:00] Dan: Yeah. So my answer is Def Jam as well, and we'll get to Def Jam in a minute. But, the case for Cash Money is this, and I know a few people have said it. Irv Gotti recently said it. Russell Simmons himself said that Cash Money was the greatest hip hop company that has come through. But the case for cash money, you mentioned it earlier, the fact that they did it while owning the core asset and the music and still doing that moving forward says a lot. Not something that can be said about Def Jam, many of the others that would be even in the conversation. I think even with a newer label at Quality Control, they've still done it while owning it. Well, at least up to this point from some rumors that are happening. But I think that's one case for Def Jam. But then I think of the continued run of success from everything that happened in the nineties from I guess we could start with like juvenile drop in HA in 98 and then pretty much everything from Drake's last Cash Money album, which I believe was Scorpion. So if you're looking just at like that run from everything there, that is such a strong hit rate. And I think that's the thing too that I would give them over Def Jam is the hit rate of who were the artists we signed and what was their likelihood of success and they were just able to do it. Even with the imprints, I mean, I think major record labels. So wrong with so many imprints. I just never worked out and for them to have, whether it's Young Money or even the smaller moments with the best music or with Rich Gain, there was always something there. And even though there was some conflict, and we'll get to that, I think that's the Cash Money case. The Def Jam case though, I think this is where I think of course Def Jam did end up becoming a major record label, so it's a little bit nuanced there, but I do think you have that eighties run Beasties LL Public Enemy. You got the nineties run with all those artists too. Especially looking at what Red Band met the man DMX. I feel like they had New York on Locke and then two thousands, the Rockefeller partner. Murder Inc. The video games, I mean, it's, I know the last decade hasn't been there, but it would be tough to not put Def Jam up top, but I understand if some people would consider Def Jam a major as opposed to, you know, an independent. So, I get the nuance there. [00:05:10] Zack: right, right. And, and being, you know, fully owned by a major as opposed to Cash Money, which really has distribution agreement. You know, and you could look at, you know, I guess Def Jam was sold in chunks, but the total amount that sold for, you'd have to adjust for inflation and stuff. But I wonder how that would stack up against the current value of cash money today, which, you know, it's incredibly driven by the copyrights that they still control and, you know, definitely hundreds of millions of dollars. You know, if you look at, Lil Wayne kind of quietly sold his The Young Money, Cash Money Partnership for a hundred million bucks a couple years ago, that was before the catalog boom, got really crazy and then kind of died down again. So, you know that that's valuing what Birdman and Slim Own, you know, just on the Young Money, Cash Money side of the business, you know, at nine figures. So there's, you know, there's a lot more to the company than that, although that's, you know, that's kind of the gold line. But still, you gotta think that, you know, this is still, you know, sent a million dollar business and, you know, I'd be curious to see what a proper valuation, you know, what it would look like against the total value that Def Jam got, you know, in terms of dollars over the years. But, you know, when you think about who was hottest and what record label was hottest at any particular point, Yeah, I think probably the peak was there was that year that Def Jam was, you know, getting sold or the second half of it was getting sold. And, Lyor basically said to Jay and D M X, like, let's have two albums this year. And, you know, because the valuation is gonna be based on revenues, not earnings. And like, the more you can sell, the more we get. And so, you know, that moment at D M X at his peak, and you know, Jay, I think, I'd say at least at his commercial, you know, record Sales Peak, you know, as an individual artist, you know, that was about as hot as, as it could ever get for, for any record label, I think. [00:07:08] Dan: That's a good point. So I guess if we were to compare Def Jams 98 and 99, like that run to Yeah. Cash Money, and I know there's a few runs you could put in there, but from an overall commercial perspective, it would have to be 0 8, 0 9 20 10, I would probably assume, because you get. Carter three, and then you get, you know, Drake's debut, Nikki's debut. I feel like it would probably be somewhere in there. [00:07:34] Zack: Yeah, that's probably pretty close. I mean, that was a lot, you know, that was a lot of
Comments (3)

Precious Udegbue

loved this interview!

Apr 17th

Kyle Zeigler

this podcast is extra dope.

Jul 16th
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