Over the past year, 2016, we have seen many older R&B artists take advantage of tech and direct to consumer incentives to keep their brands going and to garner revenue in what would otherwise be a dead career. Diddy’s reunion tour, as well as groups like New Edition and BBD are nothing less than genius in an industry that has largely eliminated airplay and current influence over their fanbase. On the other end of that spectrum, legendary groups like A Tribe Called Quest continue to prove fans, both past and present, still have an appreciation for established artists on commercial radio in lieu of what research companies have been telling radio for years which is often the opposite. These artists are not only making new music and doing deals with (mostly) independent labels for distribution, they have also gained astute business acumen that gives them a much higher return on their self-investment. Now it’s being announced that Mariah Carey and Lionel Richie are about to combine forces and hit the road, neither of which gets substantial airplay in today’s commercial radio climate.
Whole Old/New Industry
Social media has played an integral role in today’s new never-say-die (unless you want to) industry. From a business standpoint, It’s also easy to understand where radio is coming from. By having a very tight playlist, the station creates a huge demand for a very small supply. That in essence is the nature of any great businesses bottom line but it also opens the door for opportunity for those artists who are ignored. You’re not going to survive if you have a huge supply as the demand will almost be nonexistent. While content is paramount, without question, supply and demand is the first lesson in creating “value.” So remember that the next time you complain about hearing the same songs over and over. It’s just business.
We can’t leave out that many stations that have adopted the “BOOM” format which is bringing new life into the careers of older hip hop artists. The format is not working in all markets yet doing exceptionally well in others. The question that the industry is constantly asking is, is there enough product (music) to keep this format going? Considering Hip Hop is 40 years old, the answer is yes and stations would be foolish not to take advantage of some of the smash R&B hits heavily influenced by the hip hop era. It would behoove older hip hop artists to take advantage of renewed interest in their brands, surround themselves with the right team (those who truly KNOW their legacy, culture, influence and understand business) hit the road and collect. Tech has given them a second chance at an extended career.
To understand today’s music industry, one also must understand business, the middleman, marketing and promotion, branding and over-all entrepreneurialism. While that may seem like a lot, what it really boils down to is how much an artist has learned during his tenure in the industry, and how much he depended on others to handle his business. Obviously, the ones that learned the business and understand their leverage will benefit the most.