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Rich Homie Quan was one of the defining rappers of the music era that preceded the industry’s shift to streaming. He — along with the likes of Future and Young Thug — made “mumble rap” a hot commodity in the mid-2010s. But while Future and Thugger continued their careers, Quan took a hiatus from the game, until now.Quan dropped his first project, “Family & Mula”, in almost three years back in October. During the long layoff, Quan admits he lost both his confidence and heart for rapping. He refused to quit on himself during the down period, which only spurred him artistically and business-wise. That’s because the eight-track EP is also the first under his independently-owned Rich Homie Entertainment label. Now ten years into his career — most of which spent under a label — Quan felt now was the time to go independent. Not only for the creative freedom, but also for the CEO role that comes with it. I caught up with Quan to reflect on his 10-year music career up to this point and how he envisions the next ten playing out as an independent artist and a CEO. Here’s everything we covered:[2:41] Reflecting on the loss of Takeoff[4:07] What Quan misses about his “come up” years[5:16] Why Quan went independent at this stage of his career [5:40] Taking on a CEO role[7:57] Why Quan doesn’t like his hit record “Flex”[10:33] New partnership with Troy Carter and Suzy Ryoo's Venice [14:44] Differences between Quan the CEO and Quan the artist [15:54] Rising as an artist before the streaming era took off[17:25] Distinctions between album, EP, and mixtape [20:16] Quan’s non-music business pursuits [21:56] How pandemic re-motivated Quan to do music[24:00] Quan wants more credit for influencing Atlanta sound[31:14] Quan’s 10-year vision for himself [35:54] Did Quan start “deluxe” project drops?Listen: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | SoundCloud | Stitcher | Overcast | Amazon | Google Podcasts | Pocket Casts | RSSHost: Dan Runcie, @RuncieDan, trapital.coGuests: Rich Homie Quan, @RichHomieQuan Download The Culture Report here: Sponsors: MoonPay is the leader in web3 infrastructure. They have partnered with Timbaland, Snoop Dogg, and many more. To learn more, visit Enjoy this podcast? Rate and review the podcast here! 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.TRANSCRIPTION[00:00:00] Rich Homie Quan: I was kind of afraid of my creativity on that song. You know what I'm saying? If that makes any sense. Like, I don't know. Cause I make a lot of music, man, and it's a lot of songs that's probably similar. That's like that. That will never come out only because of my mind. But that's why lately I've been letting the team I create, decide, you know? Pick which ones they feel like that needs to be heard. You know what I'm saying? So that's why I've grown as an artist slash CEO.[00:00:31] Dan Runcie: Hey, welcome to the podcast. I'm your host and the founder of Dan Ruey. 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. [00:00:51] Dan Runcie: Today's guest is the one, the only Rich Homie Quan. R.H.Q came through to talk about his partnership with Venice and how this is a new start for him as an artist. He's independent now. He's seen what it's like on the label side. He's seen what works, and what doesn't work. But this is his opportunity to have more creative control. To see more of the money that comes in and out, and ultimately have more of a say on what makes the most sense for building his career and moving. So he talks about the benefits of the Venice partnership. He also talks about some of the other things that he's working on as well. We talked about his real estate game and how he made over a million dollars this past year from his real estate business. We also talked about where he sees himself in Atlanta's influence. He says he's top three and not three from the city. So you have to listen to hear the name chops that he has in here. Some of the other multimedia projects and a whole lot. Quan also recorded this one while he was getting his hair braided, so I gotta give him credit for multitasking. Shout out to Quan. Hope you enjoy this episode. All right. Today we got the one and only Rich Homie Quan with us. Man, before we get started with any of this stuff, let's just do a quick check, man. How are you? How are you living? How are things right now?[00:02:03] Rich Homie Quan: Oh man, I'm good man. Mentally, better than ever. I'm just in a good space right now, man. I love the space I'm in, probably better than ever, man. I'm good, man. Yeah. How about you, man? How are you, you know what I'm saying? Mentally, you know what I'm saying? You know, spiritually how you feeling? [00:02:021] Dan Runcie: Yeah, I mean, I'm good. I mean, things have been good getting ready for the holidays and everything right now, but, I feel like it's kind of been a tough week, I'm not gonna lie. Thinking about take off and just thinking about artists passing so young. I mean, I mean, I know that this isn't anything new necessarily, but it just feels like it's been so much recently, so I've been thinking a lot about that.[00:02:41] Rich Homie Quan: That part, you know, like I've been trying to get it out my mind, man. Cause like me and Takeoff wasn't close, but I have worked with him, you know what I'm saying? On numerous occasions, on numerous occasions. And with him being from Atlanta, man, it just hit, that one hit a whole lot different, man. That one touched me, man. That one hurt me, man. That hurt a lot of us, man. You know what I'm saying? Like I think I was walking say the best man, like hip hop took big ill man that that was a humongous ill man.Humongous.[00:03:10] Dan Runcie: Yeah. And there were so many of you that came up right around the same time. I feel like you came out and then they had the moment, like there were so many of y'all from Atlanta that rose up.[00:03:22] Rich Homie Quan: Yes. Yeah. So that's why it's like, I, I kind of felt a different, like I saw, I saw before, um, they were with QC all us sitting on Gucci couch before we, before we got our first million, when we still were grinding and grind mode. So like, just to see that and know like, man, that could have been me, that could have been any of us. You know what I'm saying? Like, so that, that one definitely like hit me. Alright man, real hard.[00:03:47] Dan Runcie: Yeah, for sure. And I mean, you were just talking about it, you going back to being I QCs couch. I was just looking back at the double like cell cover, the freshman class for you on the cover. And man, it was such a moment. I mean, when you think back to that moment when everything was rising up, like what do you think on the most, what memories stick out to you the most about that time?[00:04:07] Rich Homie Quan:  Uh, what memories stick out about the most? I would just say more so recording in the music, being so. Because at that time we didn't have all those eyes on us. So then, you know, like we could say whatever and when, and no one, you know, we can say how we really felt. You know what I'm saying? Because you was in that grind and it just, you know, once you get to a certain level and certain things, you can't say no. Cause you know what I'm saying? You got certain people looking at you and that dissecting your words every, every type of way. So I would just say, man, just a recording process, man. Then man, the way we record the way, it'll be all five of us in the booth at one. Or maybe you should say it this way or this way. And it was just a know, just a vibe man. And the learning experience, man. Cause we were so young at that time, like we didn't know we'll be here 10 years later, you feel me? So yeah, that's the beauty of it all. [00:04:56] Dan Runcie: And I mean, for you 10 years later, you've done a few interview recently. You talked about why you wanna be independent and what this next chapter looks like for you? What has been the big thing that's made you wanna have this next chapter? Be independent, be on your own terms as opposed to how the last decade was up to this point?[00:05:16] Rich Homie Quan: Would say the most important part about being independent and what I wanted about it, what I wanted, uh, from it more so, it was just the fact that I had tried everything else. I had tried being with the other independent labels and I just thought it was my turn. I had saw every side of the sword, but just this side of the sword and it's just been so much more fun.Just when I say fun, it's more so from a business side. And I say that because at first I was such an artist mode. It was hard for me to be a CEO, but to continue to say I'm a CEO when I'm not doing none of the CEO shit. And I say that to say like, I'm not in tune with the conversations, or I'm not on every phone call. I'm not CC'd in those emails and those important emails. So now man, with me being a ceo, I'm more in tune. You know what I'm saying? I'm knowing, I'm knowing what the budget is for this. Uh, just understanding the budget, know what I mean? Understanding, so, you know, just taking this a whole lot more serious, being independent, knowing now, like it's really the, that's why I'm probably in this such great space because I know the opportunity I have, I know what I've done.[00:06:27] Dan Runcie:  You talked about seeing the money and just being able to see what the costs are looking like, what the money's coming in. What was the biggest surprise there? Cause I know you didn't see a lot of that as the artist, but now that you're being CC'd on those emails, now that you're seeing those things, did anything stick out to you?[00:06:40] Rich Homie Quan: The most? To me, uh, it was just more so of money I would see go without videos and stuff like
Cooper Turley, better known as Coopahtroopa, is betting big on ushering a new generation of music. In September, he announced a first-of-its-kind investment fund focused squarely on web3 music projects and artists themselves. Coop Records raised $10 million and Coopah will be the sole general partner. He’s hesitant to call it just an investment fund though. That’s because Coop Records is also a record label and incubator. Coopah will invest directly into web3-native music artists in a “seed round” — turning emerging artists into venture-backed startups.Structuring an artist’s company is what Coopah sees as web3’s biggest opportunity: resetting ownership dynamics. NFTs are another vertical of the Coop Records fund, in addition to the seed-stage investing in both companies and artists.  Coopah joined me on the show to give us an in-depth look at how Coop Records is eying its investment opportunities. Here’s everything we covered:[0:00] How Coop Records started[2:06] Focusing on emerging artists, not established ones [3:35] Coop Records’ investment thesis[7:24] Investing in artists during “seed round”[9:50] Structuring artists as a holdings company[11:40] What does an exit look like for artists investors?[15:00] Artists as CEOs[20:11] What makes a music NFT historical [22:28] NFTs as a replacement for masters and publishing[27:18] Accredited investors vs. fan investors[29:30] Artist success stories with community building on web3[31:40] Focusing on story when marketing NFTs[34:25] Optimizing for engagement not reach on social [39:24] How tokenization changes the artist-fan relationship [47:00] Predicting the year that music NFTs go mainstream [48:25] Coop’s big question for web3Listen: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | SoundCloud | Stitcher | Overcast | Amazon | Google Podcasts | Pocket Casts | RSSHost: Dan Runcie, @RuncieDan, trapital.coGuests: Cooper Turley, @Cooopahtroopa Download The Culture Report here: Sponsors: MoonPay is the leader in web3 infrastructure. They have partnered with Timbaland, Snoop Dogg, and many more. To learn more, visit Enjoy this podcast? Rate and review the podcast here! 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.TRANSCRIPTION[00:00:00] Cooper Turley: And I think that gets to this artist development piece more broadly is that you're trying to start the process much earlier, much earlier than I think a lot of the major record labels are starting now. Because I think they often wanna see artists having some proven. Track record before they're willing to sign them.[00:00:24] Dan Runcie: Hey, welcome to the podcast. I'm your host and the founder of Dan Ruey. 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. [00:00:49] Dan Runcie: Today's guest is Cooper Turley, aka Coopa Troopa. He is the founder of Coop Records, which is a new venture fund, a 10 million fund that is focused on investing in the future of music, specifically in web three. He is someone that has made a name for himself as a thought leader in the space. He was involved with the Dow Friends with benefits and he's now started this fund to make economics better for artists and ultimately help them take more advantage of the opportunities that are around them. So we talked about a lot of it. We talked about how he views the space right now, why he started this fund, and what the fund's investing in. There are three main areas that we go into. We talk about investing in music startup. Investing in artist seed rounds and investing in NFTs themselves as an investible assets that him as a general partner and little Bited partners would wanna see returns from. So we talk about what the economics of that look like. I think that. Cooper stands out in a lot of ways because he has a much more nuanced understanding of how Web Three fits in with the broader ecosystem of what's happening right now in music, what some of the trade offs are with the financials, the relationship with fans, what services it offers versus the traditional record labels and more really insightful conversation, and I hope you enjoy it. Here’s our chat.[00:02:07] Dan Runcie: All right. Today we're joined by Coopa Troopa who just launched Coup Records, which is his fund that is investing in the future of music and Web three specifically. And first off, congrats. I saw the announcement, it's really dope. So walk me through the process from thinking about you wanna start this fund to where you are now, today with it.[00:02:28] Cooper Turley: Absolutely. Well, first of all, thank you for having me. I'm really excited to be here. I've been in music for the last 10 years in crypto for the last five, and so I've seen everything from ICOs to Defi, to Dows, and not most recently NFTs. You know, throughout that time I've been active across public markets as a trader, behind the scenes, as an angel investor, as a community builder, and as an operator. And when I started to think about how to connect all the pieces together, I've always been a fan of music. I felt like there was never really a clear vehicle to help elevate and amplify the space. And so I found coop records to be the best way to really just zoom in on this niche that I'm so excited about and figure out how to really help the founders, artists, and builders that are supporting this space everyday.[00:03:05] Dan Runcie: Makes sense. What were the conversations like getting buy-in from LPs?[00:03:10] Cooper Turley: Basically helping to explain what music NFTs are, why this is a vertical that you'd wanna invest in at this time and day? You know, historically I think that music has gotten a bit of a bad rep, cuz it's very antiquated in a lot of ways. You know, there's a lot of systems that are very complicated and hopefully we can unpack some of those on this episode. But, I think we through presents a new opportunity for artists to monetize in creative ways. You know, as someone who's been a curator my whole life, it's very easy for me to understand the value of investing in songs, artists, et cetera. But for someone who's not music savvy and not passionate about this sector, you know, the majority of those conversations are why would anyone wanna collect a song? Why would someone wanna invest in an artist? And trying to help people understand why there's an opportunity here that I think is. Influential and paramount for the next chapter of music. But once people get over that line, you know, I've kind of been able to build a brand for myself that I think speaks very clearly to why I'm so excited about music. And so for investors that are looking to get exposure to the space, coop records is a great way to get that exposure without them having to get as deep in the trenches as I am.[00:04:07] Dan Runcie: Right. And I gotta imagine that that probably took a few conversations just given things that I'm hearing too, from folks. People, they understand the promise and the opportunity of what NFTs and what web three offer, but there's. Hesitation, there's still perception about what's going on and some of the headlines that people see. How did you communicate or address some of those concerns while still sharing the value add for what you have? [00:04:32] Cooper Turley: Yeah, I really focus on emerging artists. You know, I think that this is where the vast majority of value will accrue over the next couple years with Web three. And so when you think about investing in music, most people's mind goes to like, how do we get Drake to drop NFTs? I actually don't really focus on that at all. Instead, I think about how do we develop the next act that becomes Drake using Web three tools? And so for investors that are kind of hesitant about getting involved in the space, I point out early examples like X copier people, you know, crypto artists who really made a brand and a name for themselves on the back of selling their nfts. And obviously in the case of people, he had a major brand before, but it wasn't until the existence of NFTs and sort of these community based assets that they started to see monetization aspects with their fans and with their collectors. And so trying to highlight that there's an opportunity here to develop and support emerging artists new to Web three through music, I think it really made a clear case that. This isn't about trying to get your biggest celebrity to drop NFTs. I think that will happen at some point in time. But this is about investing in the infrastructure and the artists that are going to make this space very valuable over the next couple years.[00:05:31] Dan Runcie: And one of the things I like too about how your fund is structured or reminds me a bit of Matt Pinkus and how his music fund is structured. It's not just focused solely on startups that are trying to build the next tech platforms. You're also looking more broadly. The NFT space itself and what that opportunity looks like and it'd be great to break each of those down. So let's start first with the music tech companies, cuz I know that's 85% of your fund looking at preceded seed stage companies. What's your thesis for the type of company that is a coop records company that you're looking for? [00:06:04] Cooper Turley:  I'm a really big fan of composability. So in Defi there's this concept of money Legos or protocols and platforms that could plug into one another. I believe the same thesis will play out with music, where we're gonna have music legos, where there's different marketplaces, service providers, tooling, infrastructure that can help sort of amplify what an artist can do with Web three. And so when I think about investing in a music tech company, I think about culturally, is this company aware and active within the pocket that I'm spending a lo
Today's episode is a two-parter. Part 1 is on Spotify and YouTube’s billion streams and views playlists. After reviewing both lists, there’s a lot to learn about the streaming era and the strategy for both platforms respectively. I broke it all down with Tati Cirsiano, a music analyst at MIDiA Research.Spotify’s list is more reflective of passive consumption. Spotify’s top-performing songs are more correlated with radio hits than YouTube, which is a more active consumption experience.YouTube’s Billion Views Club has more international stars than Spotify. With streaming continuing to grow across the world and plateauing in the United States, YouTube’s list more reflects future music consumption. Part 2 is with Glenn Peoples from Billboard. We talk about its new Global Music Index that takes the publicly traded stocks from the biggest music companies in music to give an overall picture of stock performance for the industry. Here’s everything Tati, Glenn, and I covered on the show:[3:03] Immediate takeaways from each Billions Club playlists[5:15] How “meme traffic” impacted both platforms[9:37] Passive consumption vs. active consumption[12:11] International differences between Spotify and YouTube[14:57] The Justin Bieber conundrum [16:36] How Spotify and YouTube enable fragmentation of fandom[21:26] Gym-going and seasonality’s impact on streaming numbers[26:14] Short-form videos eventual effect on YouTube streaming[27:55] YouTube vs. Spotify competition intensifying [35:58] MIDiA’s upcoming predictions report[38:33] What % of the Global Music index Spotify takes up[39:23] Why music industry stocks fell further than the overall market[46:25] Streaming platforms increasing prices[50:22] What goes into calculating Average Revenue Per User for Spotify[55:23] Spotify’s podcast strategy & acquisitions[59:18] How much of Trapital’s audience comes from Spotify[1:02:53] Why TikTok should launch it’s own streaming service[1:09:39] What Glenn expects 2023 to look likeListen: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | SoundCloud | Stitcher | Overcast | Amazon | Google Podcasts | Pocket Casts | RSSHost: Dan Runcie, @RuncieDan, trapital.coGuests: Tati Cirisano, @tatianacirisano, Glenn Peoples, @theglennpeoples Download The Culture Report here: is the leader in web3 infrastructure. They have partnered with Timbaland, Snoop Dogg, and many more. To learn more, visit 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.TRANSCRIPTION[00:00:00] Tatiana Cirisano: Spotify's list is more of an accurate reflection of what the passive majority listens to, whereas YouTube is more of a reflection of what people are actively fans of and actively engaging, which is interesting because that was a question that we asked in our last episode where we were like, how do we measure, like, what are new ways to measure consumption? And I said, well, it'd be interesting if we could actually measure, you know, active consumption versus passive. And now here I'm looking at these two lists, I was like, oh, this is actually potentially an example of that.[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. [00:00:57] Dan Runcie: Today's episode is a two-parter. We normally don't do two-parters, but these topics were so closely linked, it made perfect sense, so we had to do it. The first part of this episode is a conversation I had with Tati Cirisano from MIDiA Research, and we talked about the Billions Clubs. Spotify and YouTube both have their respective playlists that have over a billion streams and views respectively. So we talked about what can we learn from both of these playlists together. What does it tell us about the most popular songs that do well on streaming, but also what can it tell us about these two platforms individually? What are the differences between the two playlists? Are there certain songs that perform better on others versus that and why? And what that means more broadly for the sector, Just given how big these companies are. Second part of the conversation, I talked to Glen Peoples who works for Billboard, and he recently released this Global Music Index, which is a value-based index that takes the publicly traded stocks from many of the biggest companies in music, combines them, and gives us an overall picture of how we can look at the performance of the music industry, at least in the publicly traded companies. Hint, it's been a down year for stocks overall, so nothing too surprising there. But we talk specifically about Spotify, who stock is noticeably in a tougher place, at least from, where it was year to date compared to some of the other companies. So we talked about why that is, what to expect, and more. Really great conversations. Let's start things off with Tati. Hope you enjoy it. [00:02:31] Dan Runcie: All right. Today we have Tati Cirisano back with us from MIDiA Research and we're going to dive into the Billions playlists that are both from Spotify and YouTube. What a fascinating list that's like a tripped-out memory lane, telling you what songs are popular, but also how these lists are different. I feel like they both have somewhere between like 3 to 400 songs, but there's a whole bunch of different trends here. I know that we both have a bunch of notes here, but Tati, I'll start with you. What stuck out to you most when you were looking through these lists? [00:03:03] Tatiana Cirisano: Oh my gosh. So there's so many things. I guess I'll start with the things that stuck out to me that don't have to do with differences, but just stuck out to me in terms of just looking at both. And one was that I felt like there was definitely a dominance of songs and artists from the last decade and maybe even just the last five years, which was interesting to me because there's been such a debate recently about is old music or what we call catalog, which is often not actually old music. But is it sort of cannibalizing new music? Does new music have more to compete with? And that whole argument. So it was interesting to see that there actually weren't that many or weren't relatively as many older songs. I believe the YouTube Billion Views Club had, like, one song from the 70s. It makes more sense with YouTube. And I think YouTube had even more dominance with more recent songs. And that kind of makes sense because if it's visual-based, maybe some of these songs we don't have the music videos, or maybe they're not as good. But I thought that that was interesting just off the bat from both ways. [00:04:03] Dan Runcie: Yeah, I would agree. I think that YouTube's list did trend much younger, and there's a whole MTV effect of just what music videos look like then and now. But I also feel like what's important is with both Spotify and YouTube, that when these platforms accelerated in growth, a lot of the artists that were releasing music around those times accelerated and growth too. And I feel like I saw some trends there. If I think about YouTube and its rapid growth phase more so in the early 2010s. There were a few songs there that I saw, whether it was like a party rock anthem or songs like that, that streamed really well on YouTube. Still nowhere near a billion streams on Spotify. And I think on the flip side of that, on Spotify, there were a few songs that were in that late 2010s era when Spotify was in its rapid growth phase that weren't on YouTube's playlist. So that was one of those interesting things. Like, for example, I think Drake's song Nice for What, a billion streams on Spotify. It's in the Billions Club, but it wasn't on YouTube's list. And I remember that music video, I think it's at the skating rink and he has, like, Issa Rae and all these people in it. So there was definitely some influence of the platforms too. [00:05:15] Tatiana Cirisano: Yeah. And that reminds me, too, of with the influence of platforms, it felt like, there were, so okay on both platforms. I felt like there were a lot of songs that were driven by, like, a viral hit or a novelty, which kind of just goes to show how embedded music has become in, like, meme culture and social media and just like online culture in general. But it also, like, looking at the differences within that, it felt like, this is like, I mean, you'd need to do more of a real, like, study and look at the actual numbers on this, but just from scrolling over the list, it seemed like, more of the TikTok traffic is going to Spotify. Like, there were a lot of songs that had a billion streams that I just remember being moments on TikTok, like Dreams and the Roses, Imanbek remix, like those songs and many others had passed a billion streams on Spotify, but had not cracked the YouTube list. And then on the flip side, YouTube had a lot of stuff that was more, like, just these, memes about, I'm trying to think of an example, like the Dame tu Cosita song and video, like that. There were actually an abundance of songs on the Billion Views Club for YouTube that were linked to these videos, including Crazy Frog. [00:06:24] Dan Runcie: I saw that. [00:06:25] Tatiana Cirisano: It like that was just, like, that was a moment in time in meme culture that kind of preceded TikTok humor. I don't know, like you can almost track meme culture's impact based on these two platforms lists as well with TikTok driving more traffic to Spotify and sort of the old, almost like Vine humor going more to YouTube. [00:06:45] Dan Runcie: That point makes me think of two things I also saw as well. So I believe the first YouTube video that hit a billion streams was Psy's Gangnam Style.
Megan Holston-Alexander is a partner at Andreessen Horowitz Cultural Leadership Fund. It’s the first VC fund that raised money exclusively from Black leaders — from entertainment to sports to business. The fund co-invests with a16z’s other funds and has raised more than $60 million across its three funds to date.The overarching purpose of CLF is to create generational wealth opportunities for Black communities. It’s a two-pronged approach. The first is getting Black dollars directly on the cap tables of high-potential startup companies. And the second is creating a pipeline for more Black talent at early-stage companies. Megan joined me on the show on the heels of hosting the first-ever Cultural Leadership Summit and announcing CLF III before then. Here’s everything we covered during our conversation:[2:39] Takeaways from the Cultural Leadership Summit[5:19] Building despite economic uncertainties [7:36] High-worth individuals also affected by macro economy [9:05] How has the Cultural Leadership Fund evolved?[14:54] Difference between entertainment and executive LP’s[17:16] Web3’s knowledge imbalance  [19:16] Megan’s interest in DAO’s[20:58] Will CLF’s investment model change?[22:42] How CLF used relationships and trust-building to scale its operation [28:35] Megan’s vetting process with LP’s[36:02] How VC industry at-large can create more opportunities for black founders and talent [39:15] Has the Bay Area lost its monopoly on tech? [44:59] What CLF is focusing on in 2023Listen: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | SoundCloud | Stitcher | Overcast | Amazon | Google Podcasts | Pocket Casts | RSSHost: Dan Runcie, @RuncieDan, trapital.coGuests: Megan Holston-Alexander, @meghalexander Download The Culture Report here: Sponsors:MoonPay is the leader in web3 infrastructure. They have partnered with Timbaland, Snoop Dogg, and many more. To learn more, visit Enjoy this podcast? Rate and review the podcast here! 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.TRANSCRIPTION[00:00:00] Megan Holston Alexander: What we hadn't considered on the executive side is, while the athletes and our kind of entertainers can partner on different things or, like, help them go into new markets, when it came down to, like, core operations or how you should run on your board, or how to think about hiring X, Y, and Z, our black executives, like, hold that information, like, in the palm of their hands. These are people who've been, you know, operators for 20 or 30 years, and so they brought kind of an additional level of skill and kind of insight to bolster what our other LPs on the more kind of athlete or entertainment side were doing.  [00:00:40] 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. [00:01:01] Dan Runcie: Today's guest is Megan Holston Alexander. She's a partner at Andreessen Horowitz, currently leading its Cultural Leadership Fund. And to date, this fund has raised over 60 million, invested in over 300 Andreessen Horowitz portfolio companies, and has brought over a hundred black leaders into this space. I'm talking to Megan right after the Cultural Leadership Fund hosted its first-ever in-person summit. It was a pleasure to attend that summit myself and meet so many of the people that are friends of the fund, LPs of the fund, and really make it what it is. So this conversation, we talked a little bit about what it was like bringing that event together, especially after the pandemic. We also talked about how events like that fit within the fund's overall strategy and how that strategy has evolved over the past few years. For a little bit of background, the LPs in the Cultural Leadership Fund are all black, and it is one of the first funds to have ever done that in the VC space, and specifically, to date, a lot of the investors had been athletes and entertainers, but Megan talked a little bit about how they've expanded to bring on more black executives, what that looks like, and how that ultimately helps support the goal of the fund even more. One of the fund's other goals is to increase the amount of black talent and interest in tech. So we talk about what some of the opportunities are, what some of the challenges are, and what the VC community can do to help improve this even more. Great conversation, so many insightful points that Megan shared. I enjoyed this conversation and I know you will too, especially if you are an investor or you're a founder yourself. Here's my chat with Megan. [00:02:39] Dan Runcie: All right, today we have Megan Holston Alexander from Andreessen Horowitz Culture Leadership Fund, and first, I got to say congratulations on an amazing summit. It was a great event to be a part of and to attend. How does it feel for you now being on the heels of that and just seeing the impact of everything? [00:02:57] Megan Holston Alexander: Yeah, so thank you so much for coming. It means so much that people would be interested enough and engaged enough to spend time with us away from their, you know, everyday grind. But we're really pleased with how it turned out. We were motivated because so many of our LPs had said to us, we want to get together, we want to meet each other, we want to meet the founders, we want to meet the investment team. So as an LP and kind of partner summit, I think it had the intended effect and it seemed like people really enjoyed their time, but also learned a ton. So I could not be happier. I will say I was telling myself that after it was over, I was going to have so much time to, like, get so much other stuff done, but, like, it just never, it never stopped. So, we were really proud of what we were able to put on.[00:03:38] Dan Runcie: 'Cause I'm sure an event like that makes you think about what else you could do, right? I'm sure you had a bunch of people buzzing with ideas on what other in-person events or what other things could look like, too. [00:03:48] Megan Holston Alexander: Yep. And that's always the hope, right? We bring people into a room together in hopes that, like, we can help some serendipity happen. So many people in our network work on similar things or adjacent things or things that would have a really nice kind of partnership together. And so anytime we get to make those introductions, our hope is that people will be buzzing after, and have ideas for events and programs and partnerships. So we'll see what comes out of it. [00:04:12] Dan Runcie: And I imagine that a lot of this probably had been in the plans for a while. It was just a matter of timing. So much of CLFs rise and growth had happened during the pandemic as well. And it was just a matter of, okay, when can you bring people together safely to make something like this happen? [00:04:28] Megan Holston Alexander: Yeah. Yeah. And when I say it was three years in the making. I am not kidding, because we were planning actually to host the first summit in 2020. So we were in process of like, you know, picking out venues and cities and where we wanted to be. And then, like, so many people when the pandemic hit that spring, it just kind of cleared everybody's calendars. And so it's nice to know that 2 and a half years after the original that the motive was still the same and the demand for what we were building was still the same that we got to put it on, I think, even better than we could have hoped in 2020.[00:05:00] Dan Runcie: Yeah, I agree. And then looking at, now, you, of course, get to have it on the tail end of your announcement for fund three. You've now raised over $60 million for this fund. What was it like raising in this climate though, just given where things are with the market and how things have been so far in 2022? [00:05:19] Megan Holston Alexander: Yeah, totally. Totally. So when it comes to like the market environment, you just never know what's going to happen and unintentionally, you know, I actually got to raise ahead of kind of the market changing earlier in the spring. And that was actually because I was expecting and planning to be a new mom. And the firm was really supportive of that. And they said, okay, kind of up to you. Do you want to do it before mat leaves? Do you want to wait until the fall when you come back? And me being like, I don't want to think about this while I'm trying to raise a baby. I was like, Let's knock it out early. So lucky enough, you know, I was able to close that out before people really started tightening their belts. But, you know, as a firm, we really believe that, you know, no matter what the economy looks like, what the macro, you know, face of the world looks like, builders are always building. And even more so, during times when they can be home and spend time thinking about the problems that they want to solve. And so our hope is that, you know, even in moments like that, we can still really rely on founders to keep, you know, pushing great, great companies out. [00:06:17] Dan Runcie: Yeah, and I like to think of these moments as well as when you do start to filter out some of the companies or ideas that maybe were a bit more fleeting, and you can focus on the real things happening, you look at the last economic downturn that we had, and all of the companies that came from that timeframe, too. So I feel like the call to action for so many fund managers like yourself, you mentioned the LPs or even to others is, like you just said, people are still building, and if anything, it's the real companies that are going to come out of this timeframe.[00:06:46] Megan Holston Alexander: Yep. And then a piece that I would add onto that is in these moments, while we know that like great companies
At the top of the episode, I talk about Trapital’s new Culture Report and our opening section on hip-hop’s “decline.” This report is sponsored by DICE, and it was a great chance to chat with DICE President Russ Tannen about the future of ticketing and live events.Russ moved to New York City in 2021 amid the pandemic with one lofty goal: grow the music ticketing platform’s business inside the competitive United States market. If that wasn’t challenging enough, this was all while live musical shows were still hard to come by. More than a year later, DICE is still in growth mode, not only in the US but with aspirations for other international markets too.Russ was a day-one employee of DICE when it started in 2013 in Europe. What separated the platform then — and to this day — is its laser focus on the music fan. Unlike its major competitors, DICE is as much a discovery platform as a point-of-sale. Using the app’s own internal data, fans are recommended local shows to attend. The recommendation system was created with the intent of improving the live music-going experience for fans. This same reason is also why the ticket price you see on DICE is the final price, no extra fees added at check-out. DICE tickets also can’t be resold outside of its app, ensuring true fans, not ticket scalpers, will have first access to see their favorite artists. Russ joined me on the show to discuss the inner workings of DICE, from the app’s unique benefits for fans, artists, and venues alike to its overarching growth strategy. Here’s everything we covered:[0:35] The Culture Report[13:01] DICE entering the US market amid pandemic[15:26] Competing against other ticketing platforms[19:58] Re-wiring consumer behavior around attending events[22:15] Prior partnership with Kanye West[23:37] Has there been any artist pushback?[25:16] Showing ticket price upfront, not at checkout[28:10] How DICE deals with ticket-buying bots[35:57] DICE’s investment in data science is paying off[35:37] Partnering with Ice Spice[38:21] Early signals that an artist is on the rise[40:22] Correlation between social media and streaming numbers on ticket sales[43:16] Differences in ticketing in US vs. other markets[46:18] Sales strategies for low-demand shows[48:46] DICE’s plans to tap more into Latin music market[52:27] Expansion is DICE’s primary focus in 2023Listen: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | SoundCloud | Stitcher | Overcast | Amazon | Google Podcasts | Pocket Casts | RSSHost: Dan Runcie, @RuncieDan, trapital.coGuests: Russ Tannen, @RussTannen Download The Culture Report here: Sponsors: MoonPay is the leader in web3 infrastructure. They have partnered with Timbaland, Snoop Dogg, and many more. To learn more, visit Enjoy this podcast? Rate and review the podcast here! 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. Sponsors: MoonPay is the leader in web3 infrastructure. They have partnered with Timbaland, Snoop Dogg, and many more. To learn more, visit Enjoy this podcast? Rate and review the podcast here! 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.TRANSCRIPTION[00:00:00] Russ Tannen: At one point I was booking in London a 150-capacity venue, and I thought it was amazing when 400 people would show up for the hundred 50 capacity show, and we try and cram them all in. And I always saw that was an amazing sign. Those shows were always free, but obviously, now we are ticketing around the world, many of the best 100 to 200-capacity venues that exist in some of the best music cities in the world. So what's fascinating for us is to not just be speaking to the people that are running and booking those venues, but to be looking at the data of, okay, which shows sold out on and out at that level, and who's got the biggest waiting list at that level. And we see a complete global picture of that.[00:00:42] 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.   [00:01:02] Dan Runcie: Today's guest is Russ Tannen. He's the president of DICE, which is a ticketing platform for live events that's working to make ticketing fairer for fans of live music. They're also working to make sure that there's personalization, so that fans have a better understanding for the music and the concerts from the people that they want to be able to see. And they've been using a ton of analytics to address some of the challenges that the live entertainment industry has faced over the years. DICE is one of the presenting sponsors for Trapital's 2022 Culture Report that is out and available. You can get that on the Trapital website or if you're on the email list. And it was great to talk to Russ about some of those findings and also get a better understanding for the main problem that DICE is trying to solve. There are several aspects of the live ticketing business from scalpers and bots that are raising prices, with artists and fans not necessarily being able to have the most direct connection possible, and fans not always necessarily knowing what concerts are in their area, other people that they may want to see, and being able to get personalized recommendations there. So Russ really brought us under the hood, painted us a picture of what the events business looks like. This is a company that started in the UK, was able to get a good amount of market share there, and is now expanding into the US. So we talked about how they're focused on the venues, specifically, that have capacity from 200 people up to 10,000, what that looks like, what the opportunities are, what some of the challenges are, and what he's ultimately looking forward to most. Here's my chat with Russ.[00:02:36] Dan Runcie: All right. Today we have Russ Tannen, who is the president of DICE, a company that is on a mission to help solve a number of the challenges right now in the ticketing and live events business. And I give you a lot of credit because this is a difficult business for a number of reasons, and you're entering a US market where I think there's so much opportunity for improvements with things. So it would be great to hear from you all, and for the folks listening, what your strategy is and why the US market's been so important for you.[00:03:08] Russ Tannen: Thanks Dan. Thanks so much for having me on. It's really good to meet you and to get a chance to have this conversation. I don't know why you think it's difficult. It's it's been so straightforward. It's been such a breeze the last nine years. No, it's definitely complicated. Before we jump into it, and I do want to tackle that one, I wanted to ask you a question first actually. What was the first concert you went to, Dan? [00:03:27] Dan Runcie: Ooh, the first concert I went to. So I am Jamaican and my parents are Big Harry Belafonte fans, so I must have been nine or so, and we all went as a family to a Harry Belafonte concert. I grew up in Hartford, Connecticut, so he had come through, so that was the first one. [00:03:44] Russ Tannen: Wow. What was the first one where you, like, bought a ticket or you were, like, going with your mates and you were, like, excited to go? [00:03:49] Dan Runcie: Okay. The first one where was actually, like, me going, it was a 50 Cent concert. He had come through, they had this concert venue, the Meadows in the Hartford area. So, yeah, we went to that. This is like right when he had, like, blown up. [00:04:00] Russ Tannen: How was it? Amazing? [00:04:02] Dan Runcie: I mean, at that age, it was amazing. I thought that it was the coolest thing ever. I mean, this was the person that everyone was talking about, Oh, you know, he got shot nine times. He's this mythical legend. And then you get to see him in this venue. And of course, you're also, you know, you're young, you're with your friends, you're finally, like, getting out, like, people are finally starting to go different places. So I really enjoy that. And yeah, I mean, that was with my own money for the first time.[00:04:25] Russ Tannen: Yeah. I love thinking about those memories. I found a picture of me going to my, like, first proper concert, which is, like, I used to have hair, obviously, when I was a teenager and it was, like, dyed green, and we were going to see Deftones and Linkin Park play. They were playing in London. And I remember just being with all my mates going, it was like the most exciting thing ever to, like, go to that show. And I love like, thinking about those things and that feeling and that emotion 'cause I think, like, if you have, like, a really amazing experience early going to a concert and feeling all of those emotions about going to see live music, then it can really stay with you, like, your whole life. And I think a lot of what we're trying to do and what we're trying to capture is that feeling for as many people as possible and to get more people having those types of experiences, like, more of the time, really just spending less time at home. Like that's what we're really, that's what DICE is all about. Like, more than being an app or being a company or all the other things that we're doing, like, it's really, like, how do you get more people to feel like they're going to the 50 Cent concert and just, like, this is it, like, but thanks for sharing that. [00:05:26] Dan Runcie: Oh, definitely. [00:05:27] Russ Tannen: Yeah, I moved to the US in April last year. So I'm joining on the call from New York at the moment. And we already had a presence here. We'd been building up the business in LA for a few years before, and obviously, th
Rory founded HitPiece two years ago. HitPiece is an NFT marketplace focused solely on music collections. While in beta earlier this year, unauthorized NFTs from big-name artists became available for purchase on HitPiece. HitPiece was hit with wide-spread backlash from artists, the RIAA, and many others for copyright infringement. The company quickly went dark while the team recalibrated its business. Advertising Inquiries:
Most artists want career growth and they want it fast — sometimes to a fault. This is where Curren$y is an outlier. From the jump, Curren$y set out to grow both his career and fanbase slowly but steadily. He successfully did that and it’s a reason why he’s not only stayed in the rap game for almost twenty years, but is now still earning more money, and at a career point where most of his peers coming up have already fizzled out.Curren$y and his longtime manager, Mousa, joined me on this week’s episode to explain how zigging when others zagged contributed to their career longevity. One instance is leaving his hometown Cash Money Records label to create their own, Jet Life. The two have been able to morph the brand into a full-on business empire that now includes apparel, athlete management, products, and more verticals on top of the music label. The duo built Jet Life on the back of touring and being true to their audience. To do so, they turned down more brand partnerships they can remember and even music festival appearances at times — no matter how good the bag was for each. These trend-bucking moves were covered at length in our interview. Here’s what we covered:[3:15] New Orleans folks are immune to heat[4:44] Mousa and Curren$y relationship began in 2005[8:49] Growing Jet Life business beyond a record label[11:45] Turning down non-authentic business opportunities[15:59] Emphasizing touring early in Curren$y’s career[19:21] Releasing an EP as an NFT[23:52] Curren$y’s take on streaming farms[29:47] Macro-view of Jet Life revenue streams[34:47] Touring is cornerstone of Jet Life business[37:08] Performing on own shows vs. music festivals[43:48] Festival money goes to sports car dealership[45:16] Curren$y’s partnership with NASCAR (and problems with Coca-Cola)[50:37] What’s the secret to a great artist-manager relationship? Listen: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | SoundCloud | Stitcher | Overcast | Amazon | Google Podcasts | Pocket Casts | RSSHost: Dan Runcie, @RuncieDan, trapital.coGuests: Mousa Hamdan & Curren$y, @MOUSA504 & @spitta_andretti  Sponsors: MoonPay is the leader in web3 infrastructure. They have partnered with Timbaland, Snoop Dogg, and many more. To learn more, visit Enjoy this podcast? Rate and review the podcast here! Trapital is home for the business of hip-hop. Gain the latest insights from hip-hop’s biggest players by reading Trapital’s free weekly memo.TRANSCRIPTION[00:00:00] Curren$y: You can always expand and try new things, but if it feels wrong on the core, then you're setting yourself up. We never made a move like that. No matter what deal comes across the table 'cause he's money first. But he'll tell the people, the check writer like, man, just let me talk to bro. Because at the end of the day, he's going to hear me say it's half a million dollars, but he might say it's a boring job and he might not want to do it. [00:00:32] 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. [00:00:54] Dan Runcie: Listen, you're going to love today's episode. It is with one of the most successful independent artists in the game and his longtime manager. We got Curren$y and we got Mousa. If you've been following Curren$y's journey for a while, you know that he was originally on No Limit Records 20 years ago. He left the record label. He then went to join Young Money. He was a little early on the Young Money Train, but he ended up leaving the record label before Nicki and before Drake blew up and he started his own. He started Jet Life, and he's been building up his career as an independent artist, and it's been great to see how he has navigated both how he releases music and also how he approached his business overall. And that was a big focus of this episode. We talked about his strategy for releasing music, and Curren$y is someone that is very prolific in terms of the amount of music that he puts out, but it also gets him plenty of opportunities to be able to go on tour, to be able to have several other business ventures that they have through Jet Life and through other areas. We talked about what they're doing in cannabis as well. We talked about the nightclub that they have, the apparel business, and a whole lot more. We also talked about a few partnerships that you may be surprised by, but I still think that fit well within the ethos for what Jet Life is and what Curren$y is trying to build. We even talked about some of the movie deals and opportunities that Curren$y had turned down. I don't want to spoil it. It's a really good one, but this was a really fascinating conversation, is also been great to just see how long these two have stuck together. If you're a big fan of this podcast, these are the type of episodes that you come for. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Here's my chat with Curren$y and Mousa. [00:02:41] Dan Runcie: All right. Today we're joined by the duo themselves. We got Curren$y and we got Mousa here, the artist-manager combination. How are you guys doing? [00:02:49] Curren$y: Man, we can't complain. The weather is nice outside and it is been pretty bad out here in Orleans. It's been a hundred degrees and raining every day, but right now it's sunny, 86 degrees, you know what I'm saying? I got long sleeves on, top down, having a good day. I can't complain. [00:03:07] Dan Runcie: See, that's the one thing about folks I know from New Orleans, like it could be 86 degrees and y'all are still in long sleeves. Y'all are still in hoodies. [00:03:15] Curren$y: Well, it is, well, because it is the heat, we're already adjusting. It's just hot in here. So now we've gone more fashion-forward, bro. It's like, just fuck it, bro. Wear what you want to wear because it's still going to be 190 degrees no matter what. So just go for it. I don't really condone that lifestyle unless you have a car. A lot of my younger brothers I see walking up and down the street, and they definitely look like they're about to commit crimes because it's a hundred degrees and they got on the hoodie and I'm, like, weary of, I'm like, hold on, you know what I'm saying, because, fuck, that don't make no sense. You dressed for action. But if you are in the car, you are in the office, you are in the studio. That's where that look really originated. People always tell me, II'm dressed like that forever, but it's been because most of my life has been like tour bus, studio, even when it wasn't me, I was like a little guy on Masterpiece bus. It was 60 degrees, you know what I'm saying? And these big mansions, it's cold as shit. So I just grew acclimated to dressing like that. I think I might have spearheaded that. I honestly, I think that I may have spearheaded that, but what haven't we spearheaded over here, you know?[00:04:25] Dan Runcie: It's true, especially folks at New Orleans, folks like y'all are trendsetters. And one of the things that I feel like sets y'all apart is that you've been doing this for so long, and you've been doing this for so long together. I mean, Mousa, you've been managing Curren$y now for, since '05, right? I know you do 'em before, but you started managing, like, '05, right?[00:04:44] Mousa Hamdan: We're friends before, but definitely since '05, since he joined in with Lil Wayne, with Young Money, Cash Money. So I think that's when he brought me on and asked me to come on as his manager. [00:04:53] Curren$y: Yep. Yeah. [00:04:54] Mousa Hamdan: And you know...[00:04:55] Curren$y: As soon as there was business to manage. [00:04:58] Mousa Hamdan: Right. [00:04:58] Curren$y: You know, right? While I was just slinging t-shirts, like ordering 28 t-shirts on a month, pressing CDs upstairs at my apartment, that was easy to do. When it began to grow and I saw, like, my two homes wasn't going to be enough to handle it, you know, what could I do but reach out to the one homie who I knew forever who don't want to smoke no weed with me, who don't want to get drunk with me, you know what I'm saying? Like, who's just like totally, his high is the business, deals closed and stuff gone successfully is him having a drink, you know what I'm saying? So it worked. It works like that.[00:05:36] Mousa Hamdan: Definitely. I like achieving goals. You know, I'm a goal seeker. And once you achieve one goal, set another one, you know? And that's my inspiration is to see how big we could really take this Jet Life, how, you know, how big deal this will be, and how long we can make it last. I mean, I thought about this morning, I was talking to one of my other homies, I was like, we've been in this game a minute, bro. Like, and he was like, look, I've been home for a little while and y'all been doing this a long time. So I say, yeah, definitely, but we not done, you know. We’re nowhere near done. We really just starting, we really starting to grow even more now. [00:06:12] Curren$y: That's crazy to say that, and that's really the truth, to be here in the game. Like, Jet Life, we're like over a decade, and each year it just gets bigger. That's really what you want. It's not a big, hasn't been just one big explosion. It's a slow burn. But it is guaranteed. And we've always grown. A lot of times you see people struggling, like, not to lose ground in the game, you know, and stay relevant. And that's never been a problem with us because we've been blessed to be able to, like, generate or, like, create our own world, you know what I'm saying? And the people who listen to our music or who dress, some people dress only in Jet Life apparel. And it is because they don't give a fuck about nothing else, you know what I'm saying? They've had their time to see what the world had to offer, and they saw that ours was just uncompromised. So they lend themselves to it a hundred percent. And that'
The dominance of Atlanta’s hip-hop scene has been discussed often, but not in the way Joe Coscarelli covered it in his new book, Rap Capital. Joe, a New York Times music reporter since 2015, spent four years and interviewed over 100 sources to get the contemporary story about Atlanta’s culture-defining music scene.Characters are what move the story forward in Joe’s book, not discography, record sales, or cultural relevance. Lil Baby is featured prominently, as is his mom. Joe’s relationship with the hit rapper dates back to 2017 when Lil Baby was still a mixtape artist. Another recurring character is Quality Control Music’s Kevin “Coach K” Lee, who has deep-rooted ties with the city’s most well-known artists across eras.Joe came onto the show to take us through the book’s journey — both for him to write it and the characters themselves. Here’s what we covered:[2:40] How the book came together and finally clicked[6:42] Role of Quality Control’s Coach K in Atlanta story[10:11] Lasting effects of pandemic on music industry[12:38] Which era of Atlanta hip-hop to focus on? [14:09] How streaming helped launch Atlanta rap into the mainstream[16:10] Building trust with his sources despite racial differences[18:10] Did Joe receive any pushback while reporting?[20:19] Evolution key to Atlanta rap’s longevity [25:05] Adapting Rap Capital into a movie[29:45] The crumbling of mainstream culture Listen: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | SoundCloud | Stitcher | Overcast | Amazon | Google Podcasts | Pocket Casts | RSSHost: Dan Runcie, @RuncieDan, trapital.coGuests: Joe Coscarelli, @joecoscarelli  Sponsors: MoonPay is the leader in web3 infrastructure. They have partnered with Timbaland, Snoop Dogg, and many more. To learn more, visit Enjoy this podcast? Rate and review the podcast here! 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. TRANSCRIPTION[00:00:00] Joe Coscarelli:  I wanted to tell the story through characters, through people, not just, you know, you can run down the discography of all the amazing Atlanta musicians, right? You can go through the label history, read the reviews. But I always want to sort of pull back like, who's behind these people? Who's behind that person? So that's why I think, you know, mothers were huge, fathers, you know, friends, people who are around these artists growing up, I wanted them to be human characters, and I wanted the side characters to be as big of a part as the famous people 'cause I think they're as crucial to the equation. [00:00:30] 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.  [00:00:58] Dan Runcie: Today's guest is Joe Coscarelli. He's the author of Rap Capital: An Atlanta Story, and he's a culture reporter at The New York Times. And this book that he wrote, Rap Capital, I cannot recommend it enough. If you listen to this podcast, if you read the newsletter, if you watch any of the clips from our conversations or any of the posts on social media, this book is made for you. It's a street-level epic about the most consequential music culture today, Atlanta Rap. Joe put so much thought and care into how the book came together and tying everything from the Atlanta murders that happened decades ago and how that shaped the rap culture and the broader culture for black folks in Atlanta that we see today, and how that led to someone like Lil Baby, how that led to someone like Coach K having such an influence over hip hop music and the culture for decades now. This book was a great opportunity as well to have a trip down memory lane. A lot of us understand how influential Atlanta's been, but it was great to have it be told from a unique way. We also talked about broader trends happening in the streaming era right now in music, what a movie or film or TV show adaptation could look like for Rap Capital, and more. Here's our conversation. Hope you enjoy it. All right. Today we had Joe Coscarelli, the author of Rap Capital: An Atlanta story and read the book, really enjoyed it, and I got to ask because I was going through the synopsis and you said this was four years in the making, and I got to imagine with a book like this, there was some point when things started to click in that four-year process. When did you feel like things were coming together for you? [00:02:40] Joe Coscarelli: So I knew that there was a book in this stuff because I had done a handful of stories through my day job at The New York Times about Atlanta. I started this beat in late 2014. So., You know, my first couple years on the job, streaming was really taking over and specifically rap music and streaming. So I just found myself over and over again talking to the same group of people, right? I did a Migos Story, did a QC story that featured Lil Baby, one of his first interviews. I wrote about Drew Findling who's a lawyer in the book that's all over the news these days in various capacities. So I knew from those stories that there was something here. But I didn't know what it was going to be. I knew I wanted to not just tell a history, but follow characters in real-time as they tried to make it. That's something I always want to do in my work. You know, so my favorite art ever is like Hoop Dreams or a music documentary like Dig!, which follows two bands across a long period of time. One of them makes it, one of them doesn't make it. That's always what I want to bring to my reporting is this idea of a journey, right? And it doesn't even matter what the destination is, but following, specifically artists and musicians as they're trying to make something out of their lives, that to me, is just a timeless tale, right, of ambition and dreams, and so I knew I had a handful of characters that I wanted to go on this trip with, but I didn't really know how it tied into the broader story of Atlanta until a real marathon brunch interview with Lil Baby's mother, Lashawn. He was, you know, he and I had a rapport at that point. I'd interviewed him a few times. I did talk to a lot of people around him, and he was kind enough to set me up directly with his mom. And, you know, we sat down at a brunch place outside of Atlanta. And, you know, she said, I asked him, I asked Dominique, her son, we're like, what do I tell him? And he told her tell him everything. And she really did, her whole life story became part of the book, especially the foundation of the book, in the first part. And she had such an incredible life on her own. You know, I hope she writes a memoir someday. But when I learned really that she had been friends in school with an early victim of the Atlanta child murders, which were happening on the west side of Atlanta in the late seventies, early eighties, that she had a firsthand relationship to that historical event that I feel like really left its mark on the city. And she was open. She said it sort of affected the kind of mother that she became, and I think ultimately helped set Dominique, Lil Baby, on his path. And all of that could be traced to, like, something she went through as a kid that also spoke more broadly to Atlanta and the way it has developed socially, politically, culturally, especially Black Atlanta over the last 40, 50 years. So that was a real breakthrough moment for me, and I knew that I could start with her story, which in many ways was also the story of Atlanta in the last, you know, half a century. [00:05:30] Dan Runcie: And in reading that first piece, too, I could see how much care and thought was put into it from your perspective of going through what happened with those murders and then how that traces directly to someone like Lil Baby because it's hard to tell the story of Atlanta hip hop without doing all of that. And that's something that I think is often missing with so much of the discussion about Atlanta's run, which is why I feel like your book does stand as its own and is able to have a unique voice and perspective on this.[00:05:58] Joe Coscarelli: I appreciate that. Yeah, I wanted to tell the story through characters, right, through people, not just, you know, you can run down the discography of all the amazing Atlanta musicians, right? You can go through the label history, read the reviews. But I always want to sort of pull back like, who's behind these people? Who's behind that person, you know? So that's why I think, you know, mothers were huge, fathers, you know, friends, people who are around these artists growing up, I wanted them to be human characters, and I wanted the side characters to be as big of a part as the famous people 'cause I think they're as crucial to the equation. [00:06:31] Dan Runcie: And of course, Lil Baby is one of the central characters. Another one is Coach K, who's one of the folks leading up Quality Control Music. Why was it important for him to be a central character in this too? [00:06:42] Joe Coscarelli: So Coach K is amazing because you can tell basically the last 30 years of rap music only through his career, right? When I said I wanted to be able to trace characters back through the years to artists and eras, like, Coach has seen it all, right? This is a man who was passing out Church fans to promote Pastor Troy and the congregation in the mid-nineties. Then he goes from that to representing all these producers who were, you know, crucial to founding the trap sound, someone like Drama Boy. And then he's working with Young Jeezy, right, as the Snowman mythology takes over and, you know, Def Jam South and the explosion of trap music on a national scale. Coach is behind that, right? You know, there's a moment I talk about in the book where they put the commercial on the radio right, in Atlanta, when th
Mona Scott-Young is best-known for producing the Love & Hip Hop reality TV series on VH1. The franchise debuted in 2011 has remained a TV fixture today through industry-wide changes with TV and around 30 different seasons aired. However, it’s Young’s ability to permeate hip-hop culture into the mainstream that’s been the true calling card. Advertising Inquiries:
Hannibal Buress has carved a name for himself in comedy over the past two decades. But now he’s foregoing that part of his career for a fresh identity — Eshu Tune, his rap alter-ego. The name pays homage to a “trickster god” in Nigerian mythology.A rap career has been in the back of Hannibal’s mind but the career pivot wasn’t seriously put into motion until 2020. Earlier that year, he put out a comedy special, “Miami Nights.” While promoting it at home during lockdowns, Hannibal felt a spark missing. That, plus the added alone time from not performing at comedy clubs, finally pushed Hannibal into the studio. Since then, Hannibal has largely dedicated himself to rap and rap only. His eight-track, self-titled EP dropped earlier this year. Live rap show performances followed that. An agency deal was inked with UTA this summer. And soon, Hannibal will hit the studio to prepare for his debut album, which he plans to drop on his 40th birthday next April.Hannibal took me through his comedy-to-rap journey over the past two years on the show. Here’s what we covered in our interview:[2:54] Introducing Eshu Tune the rapper[4:17] What led Hannibal to the career pivot[6:53] Goals of debut EP [10:11] Benefits of being independent artist[14:34] Following Too $hort at a Bay Area show[19:52] Getting a performing residency in LA[21:29] Challenging himself with music[26:52] Difference between Hannibal’s comedy and rap fanbase[29:08] Will Hannibal still do comedy?[31:36] Has the changing climate of comedy impacted Hannibal?[34:01] Previous comedians that went into music[37:50] Response from rap community to Hannibal’s career pivot[38:52] Eshu Tune’s next album dropListen: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | SoundCloud | Stitcher | Overcast | Amazon | Google Podcasts | Pocket Casts | RSSHost: Dan Runcie, @RuncieDan, trapital.coGuests: Hannibal Buress, @hannibalburess  Sponsors: MoonPay is the leader in web3 infrastructure. They have partnered with Timbaland, Snoop Dogg, and many more. To learn more, visit Enjoy this podcast? Rate and review the podcast here! 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. TRANSCRIPTION[00:00:00] Hannibal Buress: I got some stuff, I got 'em locked and loaded, just, you know, got to go get 'em out. That's one thing too, is since I am independent, I don't feel, I just kind of do it when it feels right, when it genuinely feels right to do. It's no pressure. It's just like, okay, do I truly want to do this? Ain't no exec, hey, you got to do, there's nobody doing that, so I have to make that decision, which is a gift. I wouldn't say it's a curse, but it forces that accountability.[00:00:35] 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:] Dan Runcie: Today's guest is Hannibal Buress. You likely know his name from his comedy and his acting, but this episode is all about his music. Hannibal Buress has released an eight-track EP under the name Eshu Tune, and that is his artist that is creating hip-hop music. And we talked all about why he chose to start this new chapter in his career, why music was important to him, and how he sees things moving forward. Hannibal had had a career of dabbling in music every now and then. He actually had beaten Open Mike Eagle in a rap battle a couple of years back. And it's something that he had tapped into, but it really wasn't until the pandemic, and a lot of us had the time to really think and tap into what was most important to us. And he was able to take this on not only as a new challenge for his career, but as a new opportunity to do something that he always wanted to do, but knowing that he could both continue to leverage the platform that he has as a comedian and as an actor, both from a financial perspective, but also from an exposure perspective. We also talked about his upcoming residency, how he's been positioning himself to get booked on shows and other things, and how important this is for him right now. So it was great to tap in. This was also the first episode recorded in Trapital's new home. I have a new office and studio here, and it's been great to get everything set up, and it's been great to record these in person, too, because, listen, it's great to do things remotely. A lot of them have been that way, but it's just a different chemistry that you get when you can do them in person. So it was great that Hannibal and I could connect while he was in town. Here's our conversation. Hope you enjoy it. All right. Today we got the one and only Hannibal Buress.[00:02:41] Hannibal Buress: What's up, man? [00:02:41] Dan Runcie: Mr. Eshu Tune now, though. [00:02:43] Hannibal Buress: Eshu Tune, yeah, yeah. [00:02:44] Dan Runcie: Last we talked, it was all about comedy. We're getting ready for a special that you had Miami Nights, but now we're about to talk about your music career, man. [00:02:52] Hannibal Buress: Yeah, for sure, man. [00:02:53] Dan Runcie: So who is Eshu Tune? [00:02:54] Hannibal Buress: Eshu Tune is my musical alter ego. Eshu is from Yoruban mythology, Nigerian mythology, the trickster God. I was looking for a stage name there, so I just looked up African mythology and I just connected with that description. It kind of felt like me and some of the things I've done and, yeah, it just felt right. It really was a big help to kind of separate the worlds a little bit just 'cause now I look at, you know, Eshu as, okay, we can build them together 'cause now, I can if I want to do a little bit of comedy on this shows, it's like, Hey, yeah, they'll both be there.[00:03:34] Dan Runcie: Right, right, right. [00:03:35] Hannibal Buress: I changed shirts. You know, I can think of you like, you know, Hannibal's t-shirts. Eshu's in a red shirt or something, you know? So it's been fun. And so I'm excited for the growth, and performing has been really exciting, and a lot of dope stuff coming up.[00:03:53] Dan Runcie: So talk to me through the journey a bit because I know this is something that you spent a lot of time on in the pandemic. And last time we talked about it, you were getting ready to release Miami Nights, and this was around the same time that you had started working on music. So what was your mindset at that time? You got this big comedy special coming out, but you also are thinking about this new career opportunity.[00:04:17] Hannibal Buress: My mindset? 2020, putting out the special during that time was hella weird just because it wasn't the usual motions and movements that you have with putting out a special, doing events, doing press in person. You know, I did The Daily Show, but it was on Skype. And it just felt weird doing television from my place 'cause you still get wired kind of, but then you're just wired at the crib. It's like, man, oh, I'm not getting in the car to go somewhere else, you just there like, oh.[00:04:54] Dan Runcie: Right, right. [00:04:55] Hannibal Buress: I remember doing, I did First Take with Stephen A. Smith. Something for Last Dance, just talking about Last Dance. And I remember just, I kept messing with them changing jackets. [00:05:08] Dan Runcie: Oh, I remember that.[00:05:13] Hannibal Buress: Molly was giving me sass. Oh, thanks for being so professional. I'm trying to, like, you want me to make a great statement about Last Dance? Look, oh, yeah, Last Dance. What's up with that? I'm trying to have some fun, make some real memories here. Nobody will care about my take on... [00:05:30] Dan Runcie: It's a documentary, right? It's not like it's an event that happened last night. [00:05:35] Hannibal Buress: Yeah. If I make a great point about the '96 Bulls, '98 Bulls in 10 years, but people don't care if I'm was chaotic as hell. I need to put that clip back up actually. That was really fun. I was sweating and shit. Yeah, it was a good time. But, yeah, putting out the special then, it was weird, man. And I wanted the music, I started really diving in in November of '20 when I was out in Hawaii. I kind of, it was nice to be able to lock in, focus. I've always wanted to do it and would finally find the time. And the time was always there, honestly, but I wasn't as good as maneuvering time as I am now. 'Cause looking back, I could have been on the road after gigs, instead of going to the club, could have been booking studio time, that type of thing, or, you know, I'm glad it happened when it happened. [00:06:31] Dan Runcie: Yeah, that makes sense. I think, too, I've looked a lot about how you chose to roll this out, right? It's not like you just did one single, let me drop in and see what happens. You had an eight-track LP, oh, EP that you put out specifically for it. What was your goal in terms of the release? Was there a certain response that you wanted to have or a certain emphasis you wanted to have with how you chose to put it out as an EP?[00:06:53] Hannibal Buress: Yeah. And initially, I was going to do singles, the single strategy, but then I had a bunch of songs and I said, let me just get these out and see how I want to do it. Like, if I want to do videos for stuff, which I am still going to do the visuals on things and get 'em out. But it was just after a while. It was just, let me just do it. And I didn't follow the proper practices of, you know, get it to the DSPs with this much time, to the best time, like, all the stuff that I know you're supposed to do to give your release the best chance. But I just feel like it'll get its due when it's due, you know what I mean, whether it is when I put out videos later this month or next month or down the line. It's my first project. So whether it's crazy now or crazy in five years, it's always my first project. So it'll be th
It’s never been easier for artists to release music and find an audience in any corner of the world. Likewise, it’s never been more difficult for artists to break through the noise. The Internet and streaming services have created a double-edged sword for rising artists. To discuss this, Tatiano Cirisano joined me on the show. Tati is a music analyst at MIDiA Research and a former reporter at Billboard.Tati released a research piece a few weeks ago that argues the music industry is oversaturated and fragmented — more than ever before. This shift has created a new class system for artists.In Group 1 are artists that reached prominence pre-streaming in a less cluttered marketplace (e.g. Beyonce or AC/DC). Class 2 consists of artists who rose in parallel with the proliferation of streaming. Drake and Taylor Swift fall into this category. And then there’s the Class 3, that includes newer artists, who try to cultivate audiences in today’s hyper-competitive landscape against the other two groups. Tati believes the trend line for the music industry’s fragmentation is clearly pointing up. To understand how we got here, why it matters, and how it redefines success, you’ll want to listen to our interview. Here’s our biggest talking points: [3:11] Why consumption is now fragmented[8:41] Music superstars losing their reach[10:55] Modern artists valuing fame less than prior generations[13:24] Benefits to fragmentation[14:48] Updated benchmark for artist success[16:50] Active vs. passive listening[18:53] Music industry is still tied to album sales[25:34] Artists segmenting audiences by platform[30:18] Trap of taking users off native platforms[32:59] Content is becoming more important than the creator[37:35] YouTube and other potential outlier platforms for audience-building You can read Tati’s full report here: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | SoundCloud | Stitcher | Overcast | Amazon | Google Podcasts | Pocket Casts | RSSHost: Dan Runcie, @RuncieDan, trapital.coGuests: Tatiana Cirisano, @tatianacirisano  Sponsors: MoonPay is the leader in web3 infrastructure. They have partnered with Timbaland, Snoop Dogg, and many more. To learn more, visit Enjoy this podcast? Rate and review the podcast here! 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. TRANSCRIPTION[00:00:00] Tatiana Cirisano: Fame is actually really low on the list of priorities of artists today. And whether that's because they don't really want it or because they just don't think it's achievable is kind of another layer to that, but the top two things are earning a sustainable income and achieving recognition within their scene. Artists' definitions of success are changing, but I don't know if the music industry is really catching onto that or really supporting that because the music business is a hits business and record labels are trying to create superstars and drive culture.[00:00:38] 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. [00:00:58] Dan Runcie: Today's conversation is all about why the stars of today cannot be compared to the stars of yesterday in the music industry. And when I'm talking about yesterday, I'm not talking about 20, 30 years ago. I'm talking about 3, 4 even 5 years ago. The era that Drake and even Post Malone and some of these other artists came up in cannot be compared to what's happening with the artist today and that's as it relates to streaming, as it relates to TikTok and all the ways that things are fragmented in the creator economy. And it was great to be joined by Tatiana Cirisano. She is a music industry analyst at MIDiA Research, where she has written some insightful pieces and breakdowns on this topic in a whole lot more. We talked about the impacts and the current landscape of the streaming era, and what it looks like for artists that are prioritizing their growth and perfecting what they can do on one platform as opposed to spreading it on others. We also talked about some of the trade-offs and some of the challenges for artists in the creator economy and a whole lot more. She does some great research on this topic. So definitely check out the work she does at MIDiA Research if you haven't yet, here's our conversation. Hope you enjoy it. All right, today, we are joined by music industry analyst, Tati Cirisano, who is going to help us solve all of the music industry problems today. Are you ready? [00:02:22] Tatiana Cirisano: One can hope. I'll do my best. [00:02:25] Dan Runcie: So what sparked this conversation was a really insightful piece that you had put out recently through MIDiA Research, and this was about the different levels of artists and where they are specifically in the streaming era. And you had this really good breakdown on how you had the artists that were already established in the streaming era such as your AC/DCs or your Beyoncés, they were established before streaming became a thing. You had the artists that were, folks like your Drakes or even your Taylor Swifts that rose while streaming was really huge. And then you have your artists today. Could you talk a little bit about how that differentiation between those groups impacts success and what achieving success looks like today?[00:03:11] Tatiana Cirisano: Yeah, no, absolutely. And I'll kind of back up a little bit to what is underlying all of that, which is just the fragmentation of consumption. And that's something that we study a lot at MIDiA, and it basically means that you know, with people able to, through streaming, access all the music they could ever want to and listen at any time that they want to, and also with these increasingly sophisticated algorithms kind of pushing people to niches. It follows that there are kind of less mainstream moments or mainstream stars and more of these stars just for individuals and their communities or their niches. And I think that's something that we've all kind of experienced at some point, like, maybe there's an artist that you're obsessed with and all of your friend's love, and you mention it to a friend that is in another circle and they're like, who's that? I mean, I get that reaction. I've gotten that reaction talking about Bad Bunny before, and he is the top streamed artist in the world. So I think we've all had like this anecdotal experience of you thinking that something is mainstream, but it's not as mainstream as you think it is and that is the fragmentation at work. So this is happening on a really, really accelerated scale now. Just because of how everything is online and on demand and because of these algorithms. So we're in this situation where the artists that are competing today are in a much more oversaturated and fragmented landscape where it's a lot harder to have a mainstream impact than the artists that were even chasing success three years ago, five years ago, ten years ago. So the way that I had kind of broken it down, and I think you could actually break it down way further, which I think we're going to talk about is yeah, the artists that came up before all of this, pre-streaming, really, which are the AC/DCs, even a little bit of like the Beyoncés, and because they built their fan bases at a time before everything was so fragmented and cluttered, they're still, like, building on that today. They're still kind of riding that wave. And then you have the artists who came up kind of at the beginning of streaming and before all the second-order impacts happened. So basically streaming did democratize the playing field. It did make it so that way more artists could find their audiences. And there were all these benefits at the beginning, and artists like Drake, Taylor Swift, and Ed Sheeran really benefited from that. But now we're at a point where streaming has also contributed to this really oversaturated landscape, this really fragmented landscape. And it's only getting more and more so every year. And so the artists that are competing in that landscape now face really, really unique challenges, yet they're still competing in the same field as the Drakes, as the Beyoncés, as the AC/DCs. So because so much of this change has happened in just, like, 5 or 10 years, we're in a situation where the artists of today have very, very different challenges than, I think, even the artists of 2020, like the pace of fragmentation, is just insane. And I have data on that too, that I can share. [00:06:00] Dan Runcie: Yeah. It would be great to dig more into that 'cause you've mentioned 2020. I look back on that year, especially, maybe the year leading into that, Billie Eilish was someone that was being talked about more and more, and she, of course, ended up sweeping the Grammys that year. But even when she came up, things are even more different now than back then, to your point. [00:06:20] Tatiana Cirisano: Yeah. I really like the data that BPI pulls on this in there, I think it's called All About the Music. They have this annual report, and they look at, this is only in the UK, but they look at what percentage of total annual audio streams go towards the top 100 tracks? So, like, how much the hits are dominating basically? And that percentage has halved, more than halved, in the past 5 years. So you see that, like, we still have superstars, but their impact is just kind of lessening. And more, more consumption is going towards sort of like the mid-tier of artists, but it's spread across them. So it's just harder and harder to kind of have an impact. So, yeah, I think Billie Eilish is, it's funny, I feel like she's such a tough one because I try to use her as e
Returning to Trapital for a second time is comedian Roy Wood Jr. We last spoke in mid-2020 when lockdowns curbed his usual comedy performance routine. On the outside, it might not seem Roy has changed much since our first convo — he’s still a regular on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah — but internally, Roy is amidst another career evolution.Roy made a successful comedic career — three specials on Comedy Central over a five-year span — out of finding unique angles to discuss external events such as news and politics. But now, Roy wants to talk about himself. Spurred by an appearance on PBS’ “Find Your Roots”, Roy is more introspective about the relationship with his father, a civil rights activist, and how it influences raising his own son.How and where Roy delivers this refined message hasn’t been decided yet. For now, Roy is taking time for himself to think through how he’s changed, and so has comedy and the entertainment industry at-large. In our discussion, Roy hinted at some of those major changes. Here’s what we covered:[3:15] The state of live comedy in 2022[5:32] Roy’s insane performing streak from 1998-2020[6:27] Why the comedy club isn’t the right venue for Roy right now [11:45] Comedian expectations have changed [13:35] Morality vs. profit [17:05] Roy’s partnerships[18:42] Roy’s criticism of Netflix and streaming[26:27] The new superstar is an assemble cast [31:08] How Roy chooses comedic topics[34:43] Roy’s most personal joke[35:24] How much does Roy’s son know about his comedy career? [37:39] How Dick Gregory changed Roy’s life[40:48] Roy starring in Confess, Fletch movieListen: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | SoundCloud | Stitcher | Overcast | Amazon | Google Podcasts | Pocket Casts | RSSHost: Dan Runcie, @RuncieDan, trapital.coGuests: Roy Wood Jr., @roywoodjr Sponsors: MoonPay is the leader in web3 infrastructure. They have partnered with Timbaland, Snoop Dogg, and many more. To learn more, visit Enjoy this podcast? Rate and review the podcast here! 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. TRANSCRIPTION[00:00:00] Roy Wood Jr.: You can be funny, you can get away with being funny for a little while, but true career longevity as a comedian, I believe, you have to make people feel, you have to give them an emotion. Sooner or later they have to leave feeling a certain way. It's not just a matter of the tactile Xs and Os of did they laugh at the setup? Did they laugh at the punchline? Okay, next joke. It's what are you infusing into that person's heart on the backside of this experience that you all had together on stage for an hour.  [00:00:36] 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 guest is Roy Wood Jr. This is his second time back on the podcast. The first time we recorded a podcast was back in the middle of 2020, middle of the pandemic. And we talked a lot about how the closure of comedy clubs and the closure of everything was affecting his life as a comedian and what he saw the world would be like on the other side of the pandemic. And now we're starting to be here, so it was a great opportunity to check in, hear how things are going for him. And we talked a lot about how the past couple of years have reshaped his perspective on the type of message that he wants to be able to. What are the best venues to do that and how he might change his approach up a little bit in the next few years. We also talked about streaming and what it's been like from his perspective as someone that is acting in movies, acting in TV shows, writing and producing shows as well, and how it's been like navigating these streaming networks, what their goals and incentives are. What his goals and incentives are and what he has seen from others in this space. We also talked about his upcoming movie Confess, Fletch. It's out in theaters on September 16th. It stars Jon Hamm. This is a reboot of the classic Chevy Chase Fletch movies from the eighties. So we talked about what to expect there, what he's excited about and more. Roy's good people, man, plain and simple. If you listen to the last conversation that him and I had, you know that if you've watched anything he's ever done on The Daily Show, ever seen him perform standup, you know that as well. Here's our conversation. Hope you enjoy it.[00:02:30] Dan Runcie: All right. We are joined today by a return guest to the Trapital podcast, the one, the only, Roy Wood Jr. How are you doing man? [00:02:38] Roy Wood Jr.: You're back. I'm back. You're welcome. You're all welcome. I apologize in advance for my voice. There's things that happened this week that I did not plan on happening. And this is the result. It was either this or cancel, and I didn't want to cancel it. [00:02:54] Dan Runcie: No, I appreciate you. Hey, it's either this, or, you know, this is part of getting back on the road, right, 'cause I feel like the last time we talked, we were talking about what the other side of this whole pandemic was going to look like and what it was going to be like for comics returning to the stage. And now you're in it. What has it been like to return to the stage and with everything? [00:03:15] Roy Wood Jr.: What's wild is that I can't tell you too much. You know in 2022 I've only done four or five road gigs. Most of my gigs this year were COVID makeup dates from '21. So I've been blessed enough to be able to, you know, have a podcast that I'm able to do for myself, and sell a couple of scripts, and just create other revenue streams for myself, when the pressure to go back out on the road wasn't there. Also, creatively, I'm just in a different spot, bro. And I know that the stuff that I want to talk about, I don't know if the comedy club is the right place. It's part of the process creatively, but I just haven't been in a rush to get back out to figure it out yet, you know? It's been a really weird year for me in that the thing that I've done for 23 years is the thing that I did the least this year. And you know, that part of it's been really odd. It seems like the clubs are doing well though. You know, I still talk to a lot of comedians that are in the clubs because I'm still kind of that on the outside looking in. So I see all the comics who are touring, there's guys who I didn't know were headliners yet, but apparently, they are now. They're out there, they're doing their thing as well. So, you know, I'd say, all in all, it seems like the comedy club model got through it okay. But I don't know how sustainable it is as an entertainer to continue to be a part of this standup comedy model. You know, a lot of these new cats, you know, they're finding their own venues and they're figuring out their own way through the internet to get shit popping for themselves. But, you know, I will say this about standup. Since the shutdown, this idea of having one magical five-minute set on late night, and that being the thing that definitively becomes the new pivot point in your career, the likelihood of that happening is definitely less and less as the years go by.[00:05:09] Dan Runcie: Interesting. I could only imagine how big of a life change it is for you. I remember you saying in the past, from when you started this once out of every 10 days, you were doing something on the road, right? Whether it was a standup show or something, and for you to be doing this completely different now, and just thinking about what the adapting is a complete life change, let alone anything on the business side of things.[00:05:32] Roy Wood Jr.: Until the shutdown, until a federally mandated government shutdown, from 1998, I'd never gone more than 10 days without performing, period. [00:05:41] Dan Runcie: It's huge. [00:05:43] Roy Wood Jr.: And I've gone months. I look forward to it for months at a time. I don't have another gig right now. And I have a corporate gig in three months and I'm like, perfect, perfect because it gives me the time, it gives your brain the time to settle. I can only imagine, you know, when you look at guys like Chris Rock, who have said, you know, you need time to go away and live and see the world and experience things and have something to come back and report on. I understand that now.[00:06:13] Dan Runcie: You also mentioned too, that there's material that you want to talk about, topics that you want to discuss that the stage may not be the best place for that. What are the things you want to discuss and why isn't the stage the best format? [00:06:27] Roy Wood Jr.: It's not the stage it's comedy club specifically. Like, alright, so I did Finding Your Roots over the shutdown and found out a lot of new truths about my father and, you know, some stuff on my mother's side, but as a father, myself, I often feel this attachment to my dad and then looking at how my father lost his dad when he was four. My granddaddy was gone when my dad was four. So when I think about that type of stuff, how that will inform the type of man that I will be to my son, and just family, and bonds, and the men who raise me in my father's absence. And there's jokes and there's stories, but as I figure out what the heart of the story is first before I make it funny, I don't know if the comedy club is always the right place for that because the comedy club, motherfucker, we want the jokes. I've been drinking. Me and my wife got dressed. I came here to be happy. You up there talking about your dead daddy and trying to figure out what that means for your son, motherfucker, I don't want to hear all that shit without jokes. So I think there's a place to go and develop that, you know, New York has a lot of different places, but also I t
TikTok has reshaped the Internet in under a three-year span, but if its parent company, ByteDance, has its way, the platform’s dominance is just getting started. This week I brought Stan founder Denisha Kuhlor back onto the show to discuss TikTok’s ambitious plans for total media domination.In the past few months, TikTok has announced plans for several new features — each aimed at competing with current media giants such as Google, Spotify, and Ticketmaster. Features include extending video-length capacity to 10 minutes, the TikTok Music streaming service, better internal search capabilities, and a ticketing platform, among many others.Recent history in Western culture is not kind to companies trying to be an all-in-one platform. Google and Facebook stumbles come to mind. To predict how TikTok might fare, Denisha and I hit the new features point-by-point, weighing TikTok’s advantages and disadvantages at breaking into each. Here’s our main talking points: [0:50] TikTok’s masterplan[7:02] Prediction: 10-minute-long TikTok videos[11:50] Prediction: TikTok music streaming service[15:43] Prediction: Enhanced TikTok search[22:00] Prediction: SoundOn music distribution[25:42] Prediction: In-app ticketing [29:46] Are consumers creator or platform loyal?[33:18] TikTok’s impact on creator economy [37:22] TikTok’s geopolitical issuesListen: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | SoundCloud | Stitcher | Overcast | Amazon | Google Podcasts | Pocket Casts | RSSHost: Dan Runcie, @RuncieDan, trapital.coGuests: Denisha Kuhlor, @denishakuhlor  Sponsors: MoonPay is the leader in web3 infrastructure. They have partnered with Timbaland, Snoop Dogg, and many more. To learn more, visit Enjoy this podcast? Rate and review the podcast here! 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. TRANSCRIPTION[00:00:00] Denisha Kuhlor: It has become this trend where we have more affinity to the platform and the platform's ability to curate the content than some of these content creators themselves. And in a world where I think these content creators are so driven to following the algorithm and getting promoted by the algorithm, what they don't realize is kind of the uniformity in content that is created.  [00:00:30] 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. [00:00:50] Dan Runcie: All right. We're joined again today by Denisha Kuhlor, who is the founder and CEO of Stan. And today we're going to talk all about TikTok. And TikTok has been a topic I know you and I have talked about offline, we've both covered it and have our opinions on it, but I want to talk today about talk's grand plan to try to take over everything. Just to name a few headlines from the past couple of months, TikTok is planning to extend into 10-minute long videos. It is launching its own music distribution service called SoundOn. It filed a trademark for its own streaming service called TikTok Music. They are enhancing their search function to identify key terms. They're also adding in a text-to-image option as well so that people can start to do that. And it sounds like a lot, the company has grown quite a bit, so it's understandable. But do we think that TikTok is going to be able to do all of these things? What's your thought? [00:01:47] Denisha Kuhlor: Yeah. So TikTok's been really interesting to watch these last few months and honestly, really from inception, my initial hunch is that it's hard to do a lot of things well. And as TikTok grows and somewhat through replication and also a bit through innovation, I do think they're going to struggle to really get to scale for all the new features that they want to launch. [00:02:11] Dan Runcie: Yeah. I think the tough thing with this, and it's something that has been ingrained with big tech companies for a while is when the big social network grows and they have this huge following. TikTok now is the fastest to reach 1 billion monthly active users. We can see the trajectory of it potentially getting to be as big as Facebook is now. And Facebook, of course, is another company that has tried and is still trying to do every possible thing under the sun. But I think the part that's important is there are a few examples when these companies have succeeded. Instagram copying Snapchat is of course the primary example that people often look back to, but more often than not, most of these attempts don't actually work that well. And one of the reasons they don't work as well is because they don't necessarily solve a true need that the core users are looking for to be solved from that app. And I think that's one of the important things about Instagram Story specifically because Instagram Stories copy Snapchat worked because Instagram already had a hub of influencers as its core users. And these core users wanted to be able to both post pictures, but they also didn't want to feel the pressure of needing to have this polished picture that was on their feed all of the time. So their thought was, okay, if they could copy this feed that they see Snapchat's doing, they already had the core users there and having something that's more ephemeral. It can go away in 24 hours was perfect. It worked as good as you could probably expect it to. And honestly, it worked better than Snapchat because Instagram already had the home base of those core users whereas Snapchat, at the time, they had a bit of penetration from Gen Z, a bit of DJ Khaled here and there, but it just wasn't to that same level. And I think when you look at a lot of the other attempts that Facebook has tried to copy from others and even Instagram as well with seeing with Reels, that's the piece that I go back to. If these successes and these copycat attempts haven't worked, it's usually because there's some type of disconnect between what the core users on that app are looking for and whether or not that new feature helps them do that.[00:04:23] Denisha Kuhlor: Totally. And I think it creates a culture even internally for these organizations of duplication versus innovation, right? So now you see these organizations going and seeking the desire to duplicate and get to market as quickly as possible, whereas before they had no choice but to be innovative. And to do that, I think they really had to listen to their users and the folks on the app. So it also just even changes, in a way, the culture of what the app is about because now folks are so used to see or expecting to see things that have already been done before, rather than excitement towards really where the platform could take things. [00:05:01] Dan Runcie: Yeah, it's interesting because, on one hand, I do understand the aspect of copying what's already successful. You see it's there and you know that you have those users on your platform already. So why not make an attempt, why not use your resources, especially because of how much money these companies print on ads, then, yeah, you could take the chance with Google having its Google X or Facebook opening up its own VC firm or in many ways, treating all these new initiatives as its own VC firm. But to your point, you do lose the innovation and that's exactly why these apps became relevant in the first place. They offered something newer. They did it in a truly unique way. And when you think about why TikTok has blown up, the genius of it is that For You page. They made it so frictionless to be able to stay entertained, to scroll. You don't have to think about who to follow. You don't need to do any of those things. And that is its biggest strength, but I think it also makes it very challenging to have any type of new feature that is harder or requires more user- input or more activity than the mindless scrolling that has worked in its favor up to this point.[00:06:11] Denisha Kuhlor: Yeah, I completely agree. I feel like the For You page really was the magic and to, in some ways, see them stray away from that, or even improving that in other ways does feel a little unfortunate. Some of the features that you listed, while exciting, I think are just not necessary in the sense that so many other folks are out there doing it. But it will be interesting to see how it fits within maybe the grand scheme or the grand vision for TikTok users and creators. I mean, when it comes down to maybe offering a more seamless experience, then it gets a little bit more interesting. But how big of a problem is that right now for creators, especially when you think about, like, some of the plays towards distribution and features around that? The problems don't seem prevalent enough to justify the investment. But maybe there's a grand vision within all of that, in which it makes more sense. [00:07:02] Dan Runcie: So let's break those down. Let's go through each of 'em. Let's start first with TikTok extending into 10-minute videos. I do feel like this is probably the least friction out of each of them, but what's your thought on this expansion and clearly a move to compete more directly with YouTube? [00:07:18] Denisha Kuhlor: Yeah, I think this one is interesting because it really, in some ways, is probably the least painful in the sense that if content is compelling enough, you could argue that an individual is just going to keep watching, if the initial, you know, piece of content is compelling enough. What actually is, like, somewhat fascinating to me is that in some ways you could argue that TikTok took away or has hindered people's ability to focus for that long of time. So going to like the corollary of now having 10-minute videos, I do think will be interesting 'cause it's like a different habit, right? Even just focusing on something for 10 minutes ve
One of the most successful entrepreneurs in the music industry is, without question, Matt Pincus. 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 takes an operator-centric 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:[2:58] Why Matt created MUSIC[8:07] MUSIC’s investment thesis?[14:40] What Matt doesn’t like about the music business [19:49] Recent inflow of capital into the music business[21:15] Two lanes to entering music business[25:15] Finding left-of-center opportunities among musical talent [27:30] The structural problem of the music business[31:35] Continuity was key to SONGS success[33:34] The Weeknd as a business blueprint for other artists[37:53] Sync business opportunities [44:55] Have streaming subscriptions peaked?[47:50] Tiktok brought back music frequency[51:40] Matt’s five-year predictionsListen: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | SoundCloud | Stitcher | Overcast | Amazon | Google Podcasts | Pocket Casts | RSSHost: Dan Runcie, @RuncieDan, trapital.coGuests: Matt Pincus, @mpinc  Sponsors: MoonPay is the leader in web3 infrastructure. They have partnered with Timbaland, Snoop Dogg, and many more. To learn more, visit Newsly 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! 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. TRANSCRIPTION[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, of a larger size. And so we're in the middle of one of those right now. And so we were able to find a bu
In less than a week, AI-powered rapper FN Meka became the first virtual rapper signed to a major label and then released by one. Capitol Records dropped the virtual act for being a complete caricature of black culture — glorifying police brutality in lyrics, dropping the n-word, and other cringey behaviors. However, FN Meka’s utter failure shouldn’t be a write off for ALL virtual characters. In fact, a prime example of how to do it right is Aku.Aku was created by Micah Johnson — a former MLB player and now a full-fledged artist, both in the virtual and real world. The kid character is a black astronaut, which was inspired by Micah’s four-year-old nephew asking his mother, “can astronauts be black?” Unlike FN Meka, Aku is a vehicle to promote what one artist wants to see in the world. A symbol or hero for a better tomorrow. This week, I’m running back an interview I did with Micah in 2021. It was done shortly after Micah first released the character as an NFT collection, selling $2 million right off the bat. And no, this was not just a FOMO-fueled drop amid the NFT crazy. Aku has lived on since then, and only a few weeks ago, the lifestyle fashion label Paper Plans announced a snapback collab with the Aku character. This comes on top of prior partnerships with major brands like Puma and Billionaire Boys Club, plus Aku appearing on the cover of Time Magazine.Unlike FN Meka, the creation and intention behind Aku is an uplifting story.Listen: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | SoundCloud | Stitcher | Overcast | Amazon | Google Podcasts | Pocket Casts | RSSHost: Dan Runcie, @RuncieDan, trapital.coGuests: Micah Johnson, @Micah_Johnson3 Links:Aku | Micah Johnson’s character to inspire kids to dream without limits  Sponsors: MoonPay is the leader in web3 infrastructure. They have partnered with Timbaland, Snoop Dogg, and many more. To learn more, visit Enjoy this podcast? Rate and review the podcast here! 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. Advertising Inquiries:
Before Abe Batshon started BeatStars in 2008, a handful of superproducers had a quasi-monopoly on selling beats, charging hundreds of thousands of dollars per song. Top producers still get paid today, but the concept has become more antiquated with platforms like BeatStars democratizing beat-making. Creators can sell instrumentals — either under an exclusive license or not — to artists around the globe for a fraction of the previous cost. With $200 million paid out to creators to date, BeatStars has reset the entire economics of beats. Abe started BeatStars without any VC funding during the Great Recession. This was also pre-steaming, when the music industry was in its dark days. Bootstrapping the company, BeatStars would redefine the music landscape along with other DIY distribution platforms such as SoundCloud and YouTube. Abe’s goal from the get-go was to break the relationship-driven nature of creating music and open opportunities for creators around the globe.Fourteen years later, it’s safe to say Abe has created more opportunities and then some. Famously, Lil Nas X bought the beat for viral sensation “Old Town Road” on BeatStars for $30. BeatStars’ producers have also been featured on songs released by Drake and Ariana Grande and ads for adidas, the NBA, and many more. BeatStars’ fingerprints are all over media, not just the independents but the majors too. Here’s all the noteworthy moments during our conversation:[3:27] Recognizing BeatStars instrumentals online [6:18] Starting BeatStars amid 2008 music landscape[7:28] Receiving pushback when BeatStars began[10:02] What finally changed for producers[12:20] Resetting economics of beats[16:25] Typical earnings for BeatStars creators[20:36] Music syncs in mainstream media[23:44] BeatStars growth trajectory[28:20] More competitors in the marketplace [31:22] VC money’s impact in the music industry [36:03] BeatStars cap table[39:30] Roadmap for the futureListen: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | SoundCloud | Stitcher | Overcast | Amazon | Google Podcasts | Pocket Casts | RSSHost: Dan Runcie, @RuncieDan, trapital.coGuests: Abe Batshon, @AbeBatshon  Sponsors: MoonPay is the leader in web3 infrastructure. They have partnered with Timbaland, Snoop Dogg, and many more. To learn more, visit Enjoy this podcast? Rate and review the podcast here! 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. TRANSCRIPTION[00:00:00] Abe Batshon: for us, it's never been about the money. It's always been about these young people all over the world and old people, creators from everywhere. Like, can we liberate the idea of songs? Can we help push people to be more experimental with their words and their messages and their art and something that's so personal for them. I don't see any of these like venture-backed companies or big invested-type of companies actually having a genuine approach to how they treat or deal with their community. So I'm really not worried about it. I definitely keep them in mind in terms of continuing our fight to liberate music. [00:00:57] Dan Runcie: Today's episode is a topic I've been wanting to dive into for a minute and this is about the business of buying and selling beats. It's a fascinating marketplace that has shifted considerably over the past few decades. So I wanted to bring on an expert himself to chat about it. Abe Batshon, who is the founder and CEO of BeatStars, which is a marketplace for buying and selling beats. He joined me on this topic, and we took a trip down memory lane. We went back to the 2000s, we talked about what it was like. You remember when Timbaland was bragging about getting half a mill for his beats and Neptunes had 40% of the songs on the radio? As great as it was for them, there really wasn't a lot for the other producers and other people that were trying to come up, so BeatStars came up in this post-YouTube era to make it possible for having this marketplace. And Abe talks about what it was like back then and just given some of the challenges that existed with the music industry, searching for its own business model at the dark days of piracy and trying to navigate that. But then also with the early days of the streaming era and how that has lifted his business. In the past two years, BeatStars has made more money than it made in the past 12 years before that, and it's on track to have another one of its biggest years yet now. So we talk about what that journey's been like, what led to that, and how this marketplace and how this business has evolved. When Abe was starting this, people laughed at him because they thought it was crazy what he was trying to do. Today, there are plenty of investors with bigger pockets that are trying to come in and eat his lunch. So we talked about what that looks like and why he still thinks that BeatStars is well positioned there. We also talk more broadly about the amount of VC money that's come into music tech, and how he looks at that, and what it looks like for other opportunities. If you're as fascinated about this topic as I am, you'll love this conversation. Abe kept it real and it was great to talk to him. Here's our chat.[00:02:55] Dan Runcie: All right. Today we have Abe Batshon who is the CEO and founder of BeatStars. One of the premier places to buy and sell beats and wanted to have him on so we could have a conversation about this entire process, this landscape, and right before we recorded, Abe, you were just telling me about how you were listening to a different podcast. And you could hear when you hear that BeatStars beats on a podcast, Trapital podcast, of course, mine came from there. How do you know that the beat for sure came from BeatStars as opposed to somewhere else? [00:03:27] Abe Batshon: Well, yeah, I'm a dude. I listen to so much music on the platform. Like, I process everything so much and I kind of, I don't know if it's photographic memory in terms of when you hear something, I just retain that information around that piece of music forever. Like, I know when I've heard something. Yeah, so, yes, I'll randomly, like, you know, turn on the TV or turn on the radio or turn on, you know, TikTok or turn on SoundCloud or turn on anywhere. And I'm like, holy shit. Or Spotify, you know? And I'm listening to, like, some of the trending viral songs or the top Billboard songs. I'm like, yeah, I know those beats. I know those beats. I've heard those before. Yeah. [00:04:04] Dan Runcie: Do you feel like there's a distinct brand or sound that has BeatStars sound that you can pick up on almost in the same way that well-known and established producer has that sound like you could hear a track and be like, oh, that's a Neptunes track even if I'd never heard it before, do you feel like that's the case for a BeatStars beats? [00:04:21] Abe Batshon: Good question. You know, maybe eight years ago, nine years ago, yeah, I could have, you know, been like, okay, that's definitely an influence from the marketplace, from the sound, from the platform, but today with the amount of variety and just so many different genres, and sub-genres and styles of music that's getting uploaded to BeatStars, it's impossible to just define it to one, sound anymore, but maybe 10 years ago, for sure. Yeah, not now, not now. [00:04:49] Dan Runcie: Yeah. That makes sense from the timeframe perspective 'cause I could imagine, especially in the early days, there are artists you have that are likely championing the service. And if they're bringing on others that want to have that artist-type beat there, then there's going to be a lot of that similarity. But over time, especially with where you are now, over 200 million paid out to artists on this platform that just speaks to the reach that you have and everything that you've been able to do from it. [00:05:16] Abe Batshon: Yeah, man. so fulfilling, so fulfilling to just like know that's the kind of impact the technology and platform is making for, you know, for creators' lives. I'm definitely not satisfied with that number at all. But it's a great, great motivational indicator for me to keep going for the team, to keep pushing. But, you know, our aspirations are a lot bigger than that for sure. [00:05:37] Dan Runcie: Yeah. Let's actually go back a bit because I think that could be a way to have the arc of where this is going. Of course, you started this company in 2008, but in the 2000s, it was such a different landscape for producers, beat makers. And I look at that era as being quite top-heavy, right? If you were one of the super producers. If you were Timbaland, if you were Pharrell, if you were Kanye, then you almost had a, you know, quasi-monopoly in a particular area of just what you could charge, what you could do. But for everyone else that wasn't a superstar, it was a much more challenging landscape, I could assume. Can you speak to what it was like that time frame? [00:06:18] Abe Batshon: Oh, so challenging then. So challenging, you know, I was working at INgrooves prior to me starting up BeatStars and, you know, I'd work with a bunch of artists, and labels and I'd get to know, like, the producers behind some of the work that's being released. And even for those top-heavy guys that I was talking to, they started definitely feeling a shift in how operationally the record labels were approaching licensing of beats and the development of an artist. You know, I think I just saw a recent article. I forget which publication, oh, maybe Billboard just the other day about how everyone's a distributor now. All the majors are just, you know, they're distributors. Each one of their kind of like sub-companies under the parent companies are all, you know, competing with each other, actually as distribution companies, and it's creating like a healthy competition of distribution. And so, you know, that wasn't the case back then, man. Yo
Post Malone is the definition of a streaming-era superstar. He exploded onto the scene with the viral hit, “White Iverson” that was uploaded straight to SoundCloud. That was followed up with a record deal with Republic Records, four feature albums, world tours, and now he’s one of the world’s most popular artists. My guest on Trapital this week is Cheryl Paglierani, a partner at UTA, who became Post’s agent a few short weeks after the release of “White Iverson.” The duo, along with manager Dre London, have engineered one of the fastest and most successful come-ups for an artist during the streaming era. The keyword in the last sentence is engineered because Post’s resounding success was deliberately planned out. Cheryl prioritized live exposure early in Post’s career. “To see him was to fall in love with him,” she said, which meant getting Post in front of as many different people as quickly as possible was the key to building a fanbase with longevity. This live strategy helped make Post a must-see attraction — whether it’s on his upcoming 33-city Twelve Carat Tour or at music festivals, including his own-created Posty Fest. For a first-hand look at Post’s enormous rise over the past seven years, you’ll want to listen to my interview with Cheryl that covers strategies on touring, social media, sponsorships, and more. [3:15] Cheryl And Post Malone’s Joint Rise-Up[5:13] Post’s Upcoming Twelve Carat Tour [6:44] Exposure Was Key To Post’s Early Success [9:11] Post Malone Being Genre-Less By Design[10:32] Dynamic Between Post, Dre London, and Cheryl[12:42] Post Headline Strategy [13:52] Factors That Influence Festival Headliners[15:50] Touring vs. Festival Shows[17:57] Main Trait Cheryl Looks For When Signing With An Artist [21:29] Philosophy Of Artist-Branded Music Festivals [23:07] Post Malone Brand Deal Strategy [24:18] Correlation Between Social Media Followers & Ticket Buyers[26:01] TikTok’s Value-Add For Artists [28:00] The Trap Of Overperforming At Nightclubs[32:03] How To Prevent Artist Burnout [33:28] Could Virtual Experiences Help Avoid Burnout? [34:43] Cheryl’s Personal Wishes For Post’s CareerListen: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | SoundCloud | Stitcher | Overcast | Amazon | Google Podcasts | Pocket Casts | RSSHost: Dan Runcie, @RuncieDan, trapital.coGuests: Cheryl Paglierani, @cherylpags  Sponsors: MoonPay is the leader in web3 infrastructure. They have partnered with Timbaland, Snoop Dogg, and many more. To learn more, visit Enjoy this podcast? Rate and review the podcast here! 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. TRANSCRIPTION[00:00:00] Cheryl Paglierani: I always say, like, you need to start the build from the beginning because you're not going to want to go backwards. So I think that's where the disconnect can take place if you're not building and doing it all. Like, you have to be smart enough to strategize and say, okay, I'm going to go play the 500 cap or the thousand cap. I'm confident that I can sell it out. And when I do that, I'm going to make the club the after party. And I'm going to kill two birds with one stone, but they don't always do that. And I think that's where you see certain artists that will stream really well and have a lot of hits but have never built proper touring history fall into that trap. [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. [00:00:57] Dan Runcie: Today's guest is Cheryl Paglierani. She is a partner at UTA where she represents some of the biggest names in music. She does booking for Post Malone, Cardi B, Chance the Rapper, 21 Savage, Offset, Flo Milli, Dominic Fike, and many more. But today's conversation. We talked a lot about her rise with Post Malone. Back in 2015, she met Post at South by Southwest after hearing his music and wanting to meet him in person. And she knew that there was the opportunity then to help develop a superstar. And since then Post Malone has grown into one of the artists that in many ways represents what's possible in streaming. Here's an artist who doesn't necessarily fit in one specific genre, but he's collaborated with so many and his music identifies and resonates with the vibe that is so relevant for today. So we talk about the journey with Post Malone. What it means for artists like him that are doing festivals versus touring and how she looks at some of the opportunities and advantages with both. We also talk more broadly about touring and how artists can make a tour off of a strength of a single, the importance of that. We talk about how she views social media, some of the pros and cons there. And so many other future trends with artists doing live performances. She shared a bunch of insights in this one, very relevant to where the industry is right now and where things are heading post-pandemic. Here's my chat with Cheryl Paglierani. [00:02:24] Dan Runcie: All right. Today we are joined by Cheryl Paglierani, who is a partner at UTA, represents a number of big artists in hip-hop and music more broadly. But today I want to talk to you about one of the artists you've been able to see rise up the ranks and that's Post Malone, and he sticks out because I've talked to many agents over the years and so many of them talk about that dream of finding that one artist that they can rise up with. And you found that with Post Malone and it was really inspiring hearing the story of you meeting him at South by Southwest, back in 2015, but it would be great to see and hear since then. What was the moment that it hit you that, wow, we did it. The dream and the vision that I had seen back in 2015, we accomplished it and here we are, let's keep going.[00:03:15] Cheryl Paglierani: Right. You know, that's such a funny question because we all started together, right? Like, Post was essentially my first client, like, on my own. And so through rising, like, trying to pinpoint one moment, almost every moment every step of the way felt like that because you had never been there before, so take it back to just him supporting Justin Bieber. I remember being at the Madison Square Garden shows and you're hearing thousands of kids singing White Iverson, and you're looking around and you're in an arena. And even though you're not headlining that arena yet, you're thinking, wow, this is really on the right track. And then I remember on the Stoney Tour when he played in his hometown in Dallas and we played the Bomb Factory, that was a 4,000 cap room. And at that point we were like, my God, we just sold 4,000 tickets in Dallas. We're like, we're popping, right? So you feel then that feels like a really special moment. Up until, you know, we're playing two nights at The Hollywood Bowl, that felt really special. And you look like, wow. It never feels like the end, if that makes sense. It always just feels like a new height to be reached, and it just makes us more excited for what's next. Two nights at Madison Square Garden felt amazing, like, wow. Now we just sold out Madison Square Garden ourselves or AT&T Stadium was then another one of those moments. Every time we reach one, there's another one to be reached. And we're always looking forward to that and, and planning and just excited for what the next one will be 'cause that feeling just never gets old. [00:04:33] Dan Runcie: Madison Square Garden, it was a great one because that's such an iconic venue. And I think for so many musicians, being able to sell there, being able to sell out there is huge. It's one of the biggest arenas and the most notable arenas in the country. And when looking at where a Post is now, he recently announced a tour that he has over 30 cities, whole arena tour. He's done them before. This one, I'm sure, probably felt a little bit different though, because you're booking in the middle of the pandemic. You're hearing so much, from cancellations and what venues are being available. What was it like finding space for him just given everything that happened with touring in the past few years? [00:05:13] Cheryl Paglierani: Yeah. I mean, well, lucky for us, like, we had been planning throughout the pandemic, right? So, you know, it's like there were certain tours where I had to rebook them and rebook them 'cause you wanted to be ready to go when tours were back. I think we had a little bit more leeway on this one for when we were planning, but it definitely got challenging with in terms of just avails. Because you're not only competing with all the other tours to be going out at this time but competing with sports and just different things that's all coming back at once. And so, I mean, that made it a little, a little bit more challenging, but also just making sure that, as we're booking, we're following all the right COVID protocols and that we're being cognizant, too, of just where people are in their lives, and how we're going to price it. And, and just trying to think of it holistically of where, not just he's at, but where the fans are at and what's going to set us up for success. And I think that we did a pretty good job. We had a very successful on sale and we're looking forward to starting in just about a month from now. [00:06:04] Dan Runcie: Yeah. He's one artist where I see the tour go up, I'm like, I know that tour is going to sell out. There's other artists, not going to say names, but you'll see the announcement and you're like, I hope they can sell that one, but he's not one that I ever have that thought with. And I'm sure for you, obviously, you'd seen the, from the beginning, but in those early years, like, especially in the Post, White Iverson era, I'm sure there was a lot where you, Dre, him, you see the vis
Music exec Benny Pough has shaped the hip-hop industry in a career that’s spanned from Motown Records to Def Jam to Roc Nation and now his own entrepreneurial pursuits. Benny joined me on Trapital to discuss his 30-year journey and where it’s heading next.The defining feature of Benny has been his ability to spot and develop musical talent. He’s responsible for signing the likes of Future, Jeremih, and Yo Gotti, among others. That skill was initially forged from having an ear for what would catch on the radio, but has evolved in the streaming era. Despite this radical shift in music consumption, Benny says “stars will always be stars.”After working at seven different record labels, Benny left the corporate world in 2019 and dove full-time into entrepreneurialism. He runs two separate companies — DVERSE Media and Kandiid. The former is a global music distributor and publisher, while the latter is a mobile app for creators to monetize their content. Benny also manages a diversified real estate portfolio. Like Benny’s own career, our conversation covers a lot of ground. Here’s our talking points: [3:13] How Benny Developed His Eye andEar For Talent[4:42] Differences Between Hit-Makers andSuperstars[6:10] How Has Streaming Changed Superstar Development?[7:33] Record Label’s Role in Talent Development [13:07] Inside Def Jam’s Business Turnaround During Mid-00s[16:02] Aligning Business andArt at Def Jam [18:15] Teairra Mari and Rihanna Coming Up at Def Jam[21:37] Balancing Short-Term andLong-Term Business Goals[24:39] How Did Benny Adapt To Working At Different Labels?[27:00] Why Benny Became a Full-Time Entrepreneur [28:34] How Does Benny Split Time Across His Business Ventures?[31:26] DVERSE Media’s Pitch To Artists[33:15] TikTok’s Role In Talent Development Today[34:43] Monetizing Content On Kandiid[36:07] How Benny Got Into Real Estate[38:54] Benny’s Upcoming BookListen: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | SoundCloud | Stitcher | Overcast | Amazon | Google Podcasts | Pocket Casts | RSSHost: Dan Runcie, @RuncieDan, trapital.coGuests: Benny Pough, @bennypough Sponsors: MoonPay is the leader in web3 infrastructure. They have partnered with Timbaland, Snoop Dogg, and many more. To learn more, visit Enjoy this podcast? Rate and review the podcast here! 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. TRANSCRIPTION[00:00:00] Benny Pough: You can have a star, but if you don't have people who can market it and promote it and put the music together, then it's going to take that star a little more time. Or you can have great executives, but you have artists that don't have drive. They're kind of confused on who their identity is. They write good songs, they don't write great songs, then it's kind of off balance. It's that marriage of really strong executives and really great artistry.  [00:00:35] 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. [00:00:55] Dan Runcie: Today's guest is Benny Pough. He is a music industry veteran. And when I'm talking about people that understand promotion, understand what it takes to make an artist go from sixty to a hundred, this is the person to talk to. He has identified talent over the years, working at Motown, Perspective, Arista, MCA, Def Jam, Epic, and Roc Nation Records. He worked at Def Jam during one of the turnaround eras for the record label from 2003, all the way up to 2011. So we're talking about that stretch where you had Rihanna, and Jeezy, and Kanye, and so many artists that made a huge impact there. Then he also worked at Epic where he was able to see Future, and Jeremih, and Travis Scott, and Yo Gotti. And so many of the artists there. And now he is building his own company. He works at Diverse Media, which is a music distribution and global publishing platform. He also has an app called Kandiid, which helps content creators and artists connect more directly with their fan base. We also talk about some of the ventures he has outside of music. He does a lot in real estate. We're talking about some of the real estate he does, even in my hometown, which was pretty dope to hear how he understands the neighborhoods pretty well. So this is a great interview. If you want to talk about a mogul that understands each point of this industry, and with this upcoming book where he is sharing these insights as well. This is the interview for you. Here's my conversation with Benny Pough. [00:02:27] Dan Runcie: All right. Today, we got one of the music executives that has seen this industry and seen hip-hop through so many pivotal moments at some of the most storied record labels. Mr. Benny Pough. Welcome to the pod. [00:02:40] Benny Pough: What's up, Dan? Been waiting, man! I don't know why you kept me out here so long, but thank you for having me today.[00:02:47] Dan Runcie: People have been asking for this one, people have been asking for this one. [00:02:51] Benny Pough: Yeah. Yes, sir. [00:02:52] Dan Runcie: And I mean, I think one of the reasons that people have been asking is because of your track record. You have identified some of the best talents in this field. Yo Gotti, Future, Jeremih, could go on with the list, but it's clear that you understand what you're looking for and you have an eye and an ear for this. What are you looking for when you spot talent? [00:03:13] Benny Pough: So, you know, being a promotions person is how I started in the business. Like, my first entry point was at Motown records, doing college promotions. And at that point, I realized that, you know, music changed my life when I was able to take a song, and from a college level, and have it played across the airways, 'cause you have to think about over the decades, the mass means of communication was radio. So that changed everything. If you got on the radio in any capacity, you know, it could take you from zero to sixty. So for me, listening to the radio and listening to music one way or another, my ear just got refined to what sounds good on the radio. So with the artists that you mentioned, I heard their music before I even met them. So it's something about, you know, obviously the spirit, you know, that ooze through them that comes out in their music that always just resonated with me. So the next step would be, you know, to meet them and obviously the artists that you mentioned, you know, from Future to Jeremih, Gotti, F.L.Y., it was something special about them that they'd already created for themselves. They just needed, you know, that opportunity to present itself for them to move on to the next level. [00:04:23] Dan Runcie: And I'm sure meeting that adds a whole nother layer 'cause you could have the voice but you're not just building someone that can record an audio track. You're trying to identify stars. What is it from meeting them in person that adds to it? Or is there something extra that you see when you're face to face? [00:04:42] Benny Pough: I think what's probably problematic now is that people can become instantaneously popular just from streaming. But never been in, you know, never really been in a studio 'cause you can record in your house. Never performed at a dive because that's not what's required. Never actually performed in front of an audience. So they're great songwriters, maybe producers, but the bar is so much lower on the entry point now, because any and everyone can do it. The difference between the people who make just hit songs or records, and the ones who are superstars is that they have the full package. Not only do they write or they perform, but you know, they have that whole je ne sais quoi, something special about them that people want to hear more and more, see more and more of them. And that's what the key is. And always has been, you know, since the beginning of music, of those people who attract and draw you in.[00:05:37] Dan Runcie: You mentioned streaming and how it is easier and how it's very different from having a hit record as opposed to being a superstar. But do you think that even some of the visual aspects are becoming easier to replicate, too? Thinking about how someone could do so much of the production of music videos, or even the visual of what they can do, whether it's through Instagram and developing a following, but there's still, there could still be a disconnect between having that piece of it as well and really being someone that can push a record label and push themselves. [00:06:10] Benny Pough: So the power is probably the best time, music and arts, the power's in the creator. You know, ultimately as a consumer, we'll choose what we like at the value point that we will or not. But ultimately as a creator, you can get in where, before you couldn't, because there were, you know, gatekeepers. So now that you have the access and the ability to take your art to the masses. It's great. Now the level of what you have, meaning, you know, whether it's your music or your visual, if people like it, they're going to like it. And if they don't, if they feel it's inferior, then that's your presentation to the masses. So ideally you can't look at it as a negative, but, you know, obviously, as you grow, and you develop, and you have success. All of those levels start to heighten as well. [00:07:02] Dan Runcie: And do you feel like this has made it easier or harder or how different it is for the people that clearly have superstar potential, but they are coming up in this era where there is more noise? But on the other hand, because some of that noise can filter away some of the artists that don't necessarily have that potential and let the cream rise to the crop, I've heard people use both arguments about what it's like
Best-selling author Zack O’Malley Greenburg and I took a break for a new Dad-girl duties to talk about the latest headlines in the music industry — namely Irv Gotti selling a 50-percent ownership stake in Murder Inc.’s past music recordings. He got $100 million from Iconoclast for the deal, plus another $200-million credit line to fund future media endeavors Irv has planned. After the sale, Irv did an interview with Billboard and quipped that monetary-wise, the music industry is the “lowest form” in entertainment compared to film and television. Zack and I debated that during our episode comparing top-line revenues for each entertainment vertical, plus how Irv’s deal compares to other splashy catalog sales in the past two years. We also dived into a guest post on Zack’s Substack about how “moods” has become the new classification for music, not genres anymore. Discovery algorithms deployed by streaming services have pushed listeners toward moods — and away from regionalism (e.g. Houston-style “chopped and screwed”) and loyalty to particular record labels. It’s also another tell-tale sign that Gen Z is more fluid, less rigid than prior generations with their labels. Below are all the music-industry topics Zack and I covered throughout the episode, plus a special segment on becoming Dad’s in the past two months:[0:55] Baby Duties For Zack & Dan[4:11] Irv Gotti Calls Music Industry “Lowest Form” In Entertainment [6:09] Zack Still Gets Royalties for “Lorenzo’s Oil”[7:52] Top-Line Revenues: Music vs. Movie Industry[8:59] New Artist Perspective Skewing Perception Of Music Business[11:04] Did Irv Gotti’s Deal Get Made Before Market Correction? [13:08] Irv’s Deal Was For Masters, Not Publishing[13:50] Crowning Jewel of Murder Inc’s Catalog[18:23] Why Mood Is The New Musical Genre[19:26] Gen Z Uses Labels Less Than Prior Generations[25:53] Post Malone The Genre-Agnostic Artist[27:10] Did Streaming End Regionalism In Music? [29:53] Fan Attachment To Record Labels Has Disappeared[32:30] Stories From Two New Girl Dads[38:21] First Music Show For The New Babies?Tiffany Ng’s article on music being categorized by moods, not genre: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | SoundCloud | Stitcher | Overcast | Amazon | Google Podcasts | Pocket Casts | RSSHost: Dan Runcie, @RuncieDan, trapital.coGuests: Zack O’Malley Greenburg, @zogblog Sponsors: MoonPay is the leader in web3 infrastructure. They have partnered with Timbaland, Snoop Dogg, and many more. To learn more, visit Enjoy this podcast? Rate and review the podcast here! 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. TRANSCRIPTION[00:00:00] Zack O'Malley Greenburg: Our generation, in general, is pretty hung up on labels. You know, everything from music to sexuality, to whatever, you know, it's like things have to be classified and, you know, there's kind of an obsession over putting things in buckets. Whereas I think Gen Z has a lot more about fluidity and sort of like, you know, questioning why we need these labels at all to begin with, or at least, like, maybe we should just loosen up a little bit about them, which I think makes a ton of sense, you know? [00:00:34] 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. [00:00:55] Dan Runcie: This episode is the first one I'd done in a little bit, took a quick break from recording. My wife and I welcomed our first child into the world last month, so took some time, focused on family, and finally, ready to get back into the swing of things. And there's no better person to do it with than my friend, Zack O'Malley Greenburg, who recently is coming back from paternity to leave himself. Him and his wife just had a kid in May, and the past couple of months, Zack and I have been talking about our journeys, both leading up to this moment and after. So, and given what we cover in both music and entertainment, it was a good time to catch up on a few recent headlines. First, we talked about Irv Gotti and the $300 million deal he did for selling his Murder Inc. Catalog, doing a deal with Iconoclast for further stuff in media, TV, and film. And this statement that Irv Gotti made about music being the lowest-monetized form of entertainment. Zack and I had some thoughts, so we broke that down. We also talked about one of the articles that was a guest post in Zack's ZOGBLOG that he had published that was about moods in music and how moods and music are definitely taking over genres, especially in streaming, and how that may shape the future of how music's released and monetized. We're getting away from these genre legacy terms like country, rap, and pop and moving more so into chill vibes, or other things that are named by hyperspecific Spotify playlists. And Zack and I saves a little bit of time at the end for Girl Dad Life, where we chatted about some of our mutual experiences and some funny moments that we've experienced so far with having kids and what's that's been like with newborns specifically, so hope you enjoy this episode. Here's my chat with Zack. [00:02:42] Dan Runcie: All right. We're back with another episode. And I'm joined by my guy who is also probably with limited sleep, fresh off of paternity leave himself, Zack, how are you holding up these days, man?[00:02:54] Zack O'Malley Greenburg: Not too bad. I think we got eight hours last night out of Riley, little Riley. So life is definitely getting a little bit more normal but it's, it's all good. sleep or no sleep. It's just a blast. [00:03:06] Dan Runcie: Ah, love to hear it. I'll hopefully be at that eight-hour stretch soon, a couple of weeks behind you with a newborn, but we'll save some time at the end to catch up on Girl Dad Life. [00:03:16] Zack O'Malley Greenburg: All right.[00:03:17] Dan Runcie: Let's start things at the top though. We got some big topics we want to dive into, but this first one that caught my eye, and it sounds like it caught your eye, too. This quote is from Irv Gotti, who just did this huge deal. Of course, Irv Gotti, CEO, one of the founders of Murder Inc. He was able to do a $300 million deal recently with Iconoclast, where he was able to sell his share, his 50% share of Murder Inc.'s masters for $100 million. And plus he also got a $200 million line of credit. That's going to be specifically used for future TV and film projects that are likely going to be based off of some of the Murder Inc. IP or other things. But in an interview that he did talking about this deal with Billboard, he said this quote, and I've been thinking a lot about it.[00:04:11] Dan Runcie: He said, "Entertainment industry is music, TV, and film," right? "The music business is the lowest form, and I just bagged a hundred million dollars for some shit I did 20 years ago." And the interviewer then follows up and it's like, you know, can you say more? And he says, "It's just the facts. More money is made in TV and with movies than music. It’s a non-disputable fact. We love the music industry and I love the music industry. There’s money to be made. But [it’s dwarfed by] the money made from TV and film. If I have 100 episodes of television and I own it, they’ll probably put a worth on it at $300 or $400 million. With $300 or $400 million, I could sell it at a 10 to 20 multiple. That’s three to six billion. This is why Tyler Perry is a billionaire. That’s why I sold my masters and did this deal with Iconoclast." So I pause and, although I get what he's saying and I think there is some interesting discussion there, I think there's a lot of nuances there. And I'm not quite sure if I'm completely on board with him on this. That said, I think Irv Gotti is great. I always loved what Murder Inc. did, but I think that this particular statement is a bit more nuanced, especially with what we've seen happening in music the past few years. [00:05:29] Zack O'Malley Greenburg: Yeah, I absolutely agree with that. I mean, you know, and I think he got into some fuzzy math there at the end. I mean, I don't know, you know, to multiply what by 10? And we're talking how many billion dollars? Like, when Disney pay a billion for the entire Star Wars library, so, I know that was a great deal for them and it's worth a lot more now. I think the math might be a little bit off, but I would kind of flip it and say, you know, sure. You know, there are movies that gross billions of dollars or, you know, hundreds of millions or into the billions, low billions. But like, there aren't albums that do that. Okay, but, you know, in terms of libraries, I mean, we just saw Bruce Springsteen get half a billion dollars for his.[00:06:09] Zack O'Malley Greenburg: I mean, we're seeing, you know, masters in publishing go for hundreds of millions of dollars. The fact that Irv Gotti got a hundred million dollars for half of the Murder Inc. catalog. I mean, that's a wild number. No, not to sort of sleep on the Murder Inc. catalog, but, you know, it's not Bruce Springsteen. So, you know, I think that actually, the fact that he was able to get a hundred million dollars shows that the music industry is actually alive and well, right, in terms of the valuations. So yeah, I'm not, I'm not sure how much I, I, I agree with that, especially when you look at, you know, like for example, I was in a movie when I was a kid. The movie's called Lorenzo's Oil and I played Lorenzo. It's a, a big role, and I still get checks for 60 bucks, you know, every few months. And that's nice. And I'm sure that Nick Nolte and Susan Sarandon who were in it get much bigger checks, but, you know, they can't really go and, like, sell that catalog. You know,
Twenty-four years after their debut album, Black Star — the duo of Talib Kweli and Yasiin Bey — is back with its sophomore release, “No Fear Of Time.” Talib joined Trapital to discuss the long-awaited return album (which dropped in May) and why it was released exclusively on the paid-subscription podcast platform Luminary. Spurning traditional streaming platforms like Apple Music or Spotify was about serving its true fans, Talib told me during our interview.The pair was already in business with Luminary, hosting an original podcast “The Midnight Miracle” alongside Dave Chappelle. The way Talib sees it, the group’s most dedicated fans — one’s that care about them on a personal level beyond just spitting bars — were already rocking with them on Luminary. And after a career that’s spanned four decades, Talib is more interested in engaging his core fanbase rather than reaching the masses. Disruptive art is on-brand for Black Star. Similarly, Yasiin’s latest solo album was exclusively distributed inside a 10-week art exhibit in Brooklyn. For Talib, he’s blended different musical genres and sounds his entire career. “As an artist, it’s my duty to try everything I can,” he told me on this episode. For a closer look at Talib’s creative and business approach, you’ll want to hear our interview in full. Here’s all our talking points during the episode:[3:16] Black Star’s New Album “No Fear Of Time”[4:10] Why The Album Released Exclusively On Luminary Podcast Network[8:07] Why Talib Moved Away From Patreon[10:37] Art Vs. Business[14:11] What Talib Has Learned In Different Creative Pursuits [15:55] Yasiin Bey Makes Talib “Step Up”[19:23] TikTok’s Influence On Modern-Day Music[23:00] Why Talib Avoided Clubhouse [25:12] Talib Doesn’t Miss Twitter[29:41] Speaking Out Against Online Trolls[33:51] Putting Out Music On “Own Terms”[35:24] Talib Did 200 Shows A Year For Two DecadesListen: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | SoundCloud | Stitcher | Overcast | Amazon | Google Podcasts | Pocket Casts | RSSHost: Dan Runcie, @RuncieDan, trapital.coGuests: Talib Kweli, @talibkweli Sponsors:beatBread is your music platform to get funding and stay in control. You can get advances from $1,000 to $2 million, and you keep your masters. To learn more, go to MoonPay is the leader in web3 infrastructure. They have partnered with Timbaland, Snoop Dogg, and many more. To learn more, visit Enjoy this podcast? Rate and review the podcast here! 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. TRANSCRIPTION[00:00:00] Talib Kweli: Most of my music is available for free on YouTube. On, you can get all my mixtapes for free. You can get the album Fuck the Money for free. My biggest song Get By, you could, if that shit came on in the store, you could Shazam it and listen to it on Shazam for free, you know what I'm saying?[00:00:16] Talib Kweli: Like, it's got 15 million views on YouTube. You could go listen to it on YouTube for free. You mean to tell me I can't get $10 or $5 or $30 with a new Black Star album with all this free music you're getting? What are we even talking about? You know what I'm saying? Like, how are you ignoring all of this, to complain about this?[00:00:42] 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. [00:01:03] Dan Runcie: Today's guest is the one and only Talib Kweli. He is one half of Black Star which is back with its second album since their debut 24 years ago, 24 years. It's crazy how long it's been. But it was great to talk to him about why he chose to release it now and also why he chose to release it exclusively on Luminary.[00:01:25] Dan Runcie: Luminary is a paid audio platform, specifically known for podcasting. So we talked about that decision, why it was important for him and Yasiin to release it on a platform where they already had a podcast and what that means for him moving forward. And what it ultimately focuses on is the quest for autonomy and control and independence in being able to reap the rewards that come from it.[00:01:49] Dan Runcie: This is nothing new to Talib Kweli. He's released music on his own website, Kweli Club. He's used Patreon as well to release his music. So we talked about what the decision was like to release on Luminary and more broadly what this means for him as an artist. He's someone that has toured a lot over the years.[00:02:07] Dan Runcie: So we talked about what it's been like since the pandemic. What it's been like finding the right sound and themes given so much of the conscious rap that Black Star and Talib himself were known for over the years. And we talked about a whole bunch of other trends in the industry. Great conversation, really insightful.[00:02:24] Dan Runcie: Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Here's my chat with Talib Kweli. All right. So today we have the one and only Talib Kweli, one half a Black Star, which is back with its latest album, No Fear of Time. So the album's been out for a little bit, man. How are you feeling? How do you feel about the response? [00:02:41] Talib Kweli: I feel grateful and blessed, and I'm happy that the fans have gotten a chance to hear it. I've been listening to it or iterations of it for a number of years now. And I'm just happy to have gotten it out. [00:02:53] Dan Runcie: Yeah, I bet. I think too, I'm glad that the fans are hearing it 'cause one of the big discussion points about the album, which stuck out to me, was how you chose to release it. And I give you so much respect for doing it on your terms and not necessarily following the main path because we all know that artists have their own autonomy and independence. Like, you don't have to just do the standard thing. So credit to you on that. [00:03:16] Talib Kweli: Well, yeah, you know, all praises due to the most high and really, I give the credit to Yas he was the one that really stuck to his guns on that. You know, my music is widely available or many platforms, not all of it, you know, some, some things I have exclusive, but we've had offers as you can imagine all through the years to ways to put out the Black Star album in a more traditional way.[00:03:37] Talib Kweli: Yasiin stuck to his guns on that. And by default, just me, me being in a group with him, I benefit from that. Because the situation absolutely was a beneficial situation to me and, to be frank with you, one of my most favorite situations I've been in business-wise in terms of my relationship with my art and how it gets out to people.[00:03:59] Dan Runcie: That's good. That's good to hear because I know that you've done a few different things independently. You've released albums on your own website before, you've done Patreon. What made you choose Luminary this time? [00:04:10] Talib Kweli: Well, we were already in a very fruitful relationship with Luminary due to the fact that we had the podcast on Luminary with Dave Chappelle, the Midnight Miracle Podcast.[00:04:19] Talib Kweli: And it was attractive to us, the idea that fans who are willing to put their money where their mouth is, so to speak, fans that are already spending money with us, fans that are following us enough to know where we at, fans that are interested in our conversation, right? Fans that are interested in us as men, as human beings and not just like feed us, feed us, feed us art, feed us content, but fans that are really interested in what we think and how we see the world and how we see art. [00:04:50] Talib Kweli: Those fans, I feel like, that niche was either already on Luminary rocking with the Midnight Miracle or if they had heard about the Midnight Miracle, that would be exciting to them. And so just automatically it weeds out the people who are like, Nah, I'm not interested in you as a human being. I'm not interested in how you feed your family.[00:05:11] Talib Kweli: I'm not interested in your, your thoughts on the state of the industry. I just like them bars and the beats. I just want to hear the music. But that's not the fan I want, you know, and that's not a fan. That's pop music. Pop music is like a blanket, trying to blanket and cover everything and get every single ear.[00:05:28] Talib Kweli: And I don't need every single ear and I don't need all eyes on me. I just want to rock with the people who want to rock with me. And that, that's the first thing beyond the fact that, you know, the business of Luminary is, that we're in is a fair arrangement. It's not, you know, it's not ownership.[00:05:45] Talib Kweli: It's just fair. It's the antithesis of what happens with most of these streaming networks, most of these DSPs. So it's, it's just a, it's a good situation. And it's not, you know, the news was, was announced that Dave Chappelle at other people had been invested in Luminary. So it's not just something where it's like, we're asking people to come to something that we personally don't put our money where our mouth is, you know what I'm saying? [00:06:11] Dan Runcie: Yeah. Because that's what I saw. I saw that Dave Chappelle was an investor. I assumed that maybe you and Yasiin were as well. And 'cause I know some people, I wondered, okay, well, if I was going to do $5 a month, is that $5 that I could just put directly in Talib's pocket?[00:06:25] Dan Runcie: But you're like, Hey, we also want to support the people that have clearly been with us, paying for Midnight Miracles, paying for our content. So it's not just about the monetary aspect. It's about being able to share and celebrate with the people that have already been with you. [00:06:39] Talib Kweli: Yeah, exactly. And I can't speak for Yasiin's investment to what he do with his money. You know, that'
Comments (3)

Precious Udegbue

loved this interview!

Apr 17th

Kyle Zeigler

this podcast is extra dope.

Jul 16th
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