Author: Dan Runcie

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Hear behind-the-scenes stories from hip-hop's top execs. Trapital founder Dan Runcie interviews hip-hop's leaders in music, media, tech, and more. You'll stay ahead of the latest trends and gain insights to take your career to the next level. Learn more at
161 Episodes
The playbook for artists to go viral on TikTok has changed a lot since 2019. Sean Taylor aka “BrandMan Sean” has written and executed that playbook for his clients since the early days of TikTok. He’s the co-founder of the ContraBrand Agency, which specializes in TikTok marketing for music talent. The agency has helped artists like Macy Gray, 24kGoldn, and Trap Beckham, among others.Sean and his team just released a global report on How Artists are Going Viral on TikTok. The report is packed with insights on artist virality on the platform. According to the report, artist-generated content (AGC) is the key to going viral today. It’s more impactful than not user-generated content (UGC) from fans and other users. AGC not only works, but it’s also a cost-effective way for independent artists to break through.However, Sean points out that virality isn’t as easy as before. TikTok has matured, and overnight success is harder to achieve. Still, with the right strategy, Sean believes TikTok is still a second-to-none top-of-funnel marketing play. We broke down this tested TikTok system in our discussion. Here’s everything we covered about the platform:[1:51] TikTok entering its maturation stage[5:39] Second wave TikTok music artists vs. first wave[9:10] Biggest shift on TikTok for artists[17:13] No, artists don’t have to post dance content[24:00] YouTube shorts lack of culture[26:29] YouTube’s advantage over TikTok[31:31] The problem with IG Reels[33:32] TikTok pushing Google for search dominance[38:55] TikTok as a marketing funnel[42:21] The rise of TikTok live[46:10] Predicting where TikTok will be in three yearsHow Artists are Going Viral on TikTok in 2022 report: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | SoundCloud | Stitcher | Overcast | Amazon | Google Podcasts | Pocket Casts | RSSHost: Dan Runcie, @RuncieDan, trapital.coGuests: Sean Taylor, @brandmanseanEnjoy this podcast? Rate and review the podcast here! is home for the business of music, media and culture. Learn more by reading Trapital’s free memo.TRANSCRIPTIONTrapital #Sean Taylor[00:00:00] Sean Taylor: One of the problems that people were having were them blowing up right? Without being able to connect to an actual face, right? So it solves so many of the problems that come with that, and even helps the problem of TikTok’s algorithm where people just hop on and start running things up with ads and you haven't really even understood what your content looks like, that creates some algorithmic problems, which probably aren't worth getting into, here, or maybe they are, but yeah. Man, artists generate content. It's gonna be a love hate relationship for sure with artists, the labels, all of us, right? But, if anything, it'll force collaboration and synergy between teams, in ways that it hasn't before.[00:00:42] Dan Runcie Intro: Hey, welcome to the Trapital Podcast. I'm your host and the founder of Trapital, Dan Runcie. This podcast is your place to gain insights from the executives in music, media, entertainment, and more. Who are taking hip hop culture to the next level.[00:00:42] Dan Runcie: All right, today we are joined by my guy, Brandman Sean, Sean Taylor, who is back on the podcast for a second time now, and I wanted to have him on because there's so much that's happening with TikTok, with short form video and how artists are using it. And his company, the contraband agency just put out a report that dives deep into this, and he talks about this often on his platform, the Brandman Network. So Sean, let's level for a little bit, and I feel like TikTok is in such an interesting place right now, 2023. It's not some of that same rapid growth that it may have had a couple years ago, but it's still so essential for artists. How do you feel about where the platform is right now?[00:01:51] Sean Taylor: I think it's in a really good space actually. It's in a maturation space. The problem with that is people aren't seeing hits come as easy on the platform. and they're actually using that to downplay the platform and say, TikTok isn't that impactful, or it's not that big of a deal. It's hard to get a hit on TikTok. The difference is it's now a normal marketing infrastructure within your whole overall marketing stack. So yeah, there was this hot period where you were getting like gains that you probably didn't even deserve. Right. Every shock, swish, nothing but net. Now you have to do what you're supposed to do in every other space. So I think a lot of the pain that people are feeling isn't necessarily TikTok not being effective. It's TikTok not being unreasonably effective, unbelievably effective. The thing that made me get on TikTok, back in 2019. It's in an interesting space, but I think it's in a good space actually. And I can go deeper into that specific argument and why I see it that way. Cuz there's some numbers and milestones that I kind of think of it and approach it from, but yeah, that's where I think TikTok is right now. It's new, it's a viable marketing channel, but it's not the marketing channel that everybody is going to be as excited about as they were.[00:03:24] Dan Runcie: I'm glad you said this because there's been a bunch of reports about how TikTok has slowed down about how artists are starting to complain, and I've heard many A-list artists, even privately and publicly complain that things are popping the way they used to. But this isn't 2019 anymore. It may take some actual marketing expertise since some clever thinking about how to find things in. I remember one of the reports I said was talking about how you can't just give some post or some link to Addison Rae and then hope that someone like that goes and blows the whole thing up for you and makes you a superstar. You have to find your niches and build from there. And in reading that, it's like, well that sounds like what it's like to grow any type of career, and that's probably how it should be, right?[00:04:11] Sean Taylor: Exactly. Should it be that you pay one person and everything just blows up. Not really. I would love it to be that way for me, you know? But look, that's just the reality of how marketing works. So you can still get that number to grow and get millions of streams, but that millions might come a little bit slower. And now when it hits that 2 million mark, 3 million mark, probably even before that, it's gonna take a lot more heavy lifting to get it over the hump where, That thing could just keep going like a rocket ship straight to 2030 and not stop, right? So it's a great space to get things off the ground and create the spark, but going beyond that spark is more difficult.[00:04:59] Dan Runcie: In past years, we saw record labels signing a bunch of artists that came from TikTok, and I would assume that because of this rocket ship success, people didn't have the infrastructure behind them. A lot of those stories probably didn't end up panning out the way that they thought they would, maybe even at a lower rate than the average hit rate for. Otherwise artists at a record label are assigned. But I would think now that things have matured a bit, the artists that are actually coming to the forefront are likely gonna have more behind them. And because of that, B, the potential to actually maybe have a more sustainable career than that first wave of artists who just benefited from a very aggressive area.[00:05:39] Sean Taylor: Yeah. I mean, I think the thing is people hadn't really seen anything like that before, right? Like yeah, there had been one hit wonder. That has happened and someone who's seasoning the game probably understands what needs to take place. But to constantly have day after day someone popping out of nowhere like a breakneck speed level and trying to figure out how to bring infrastructure up, up under all these artists at the same time is a completely different story. Cuz it's also a different story when you have these artists housed under you, and then things take off really fast. You're taking them, you're trying to create a deal and figure out how to sign them, and then create infrastructure. By the time some of these deals take place, a lot of that moment is already missed, right? So, it was a really weird space, and I'm sure there's labels that have more of an infrastructure that's prepared for that situation. It's like, oh, if we bring somebody in from that particular climate, then there's a specific path that we can take 'em. Whether we expedite some things or we start here versus there, I'm sure that's there. But TikTok was really weird watching in the beginning because you had all these people blowing up and many didn't even wanna blow up, right? Like you had kids just using the platform and blowing up, they were an artist or just a regular influence or whatever you call 'em. They were just doing what kids normally do on apps and became stars overnight, which is very different from the artist who wants to be an artist. And then they take off. These are kids who are in their experimentational experimentation phase, kind of just having fun playing with things. And then it might be a hit song, right in a bed without even them trying to pursue it. So it created this really interesting space on TikTok and unfortunately, where I saw early on there were so many artists I don't wanna say artists, actually, less artists, more general content, creators falling prey to opportunist managers and companies because artists fortunately, have had a lot of education in these pages. I'm not saying artists don't ever have bad deals and situations, but there's a very common knowledge almost at this point that's been put out for artists getting in bad deals, avoiding bad deals, what you should do, in the culture, that education is out there as a regular content creator. That information isn't out there. Right. But it's very similar. So I actually saw like a lot of kids being signed by
Everybody’s got something to say about Cash Money Records and the brothers who co-founded the label —Bryan “Birdman” Williams and Ronald “Slim” Williams. To paint the full Cash Money full picture, good and bad, I brought on Zack O’Malley Greenberg who has interviewed the brothers at-length while working at Forbes.Cash Money has one of the deepest catalogs in the game with several classics. And unlike some other upstart hip-hop labels, Birdman and Slim maintained control as they rose up. Their 1998 distribution deal with Universal is hip-hop’s Louisiana Purchase.But we can’t ignore Cash Money’s lows either. There is a long, long list of artists who claim they were not compensated fairly by Birdman and Slim.Zack and I go through 30 years of Cash Money as a business, its competitive advantage, and what comes next now that Drake and Wayne are gone from the label. [1:44] Is Cash Money the greatest hip-hop record label of all time?[7:34] What people sleep on about Cash Money[11:01] Cash Money’s history of not paying artists [16:52] Did Cash Money succeed because of Birdman and Slim or despite them? [19:29] Biggest signing? [20:29] The 1998 Universal-Cash Money deal [25:31] Lil’ Wayne’s mixtape run[29:03] The benefit of partnering with Republic Records[31:49] Bidding wars for Lil Wayne, Drake, and Nicki Minaj[33:21] Connection with New Jack City [40:56] Cash Money catalog valuation ?[43:00] Lil Wayne’s beef with Birdman [45:48] Can Cash Money strike platinum again? [50:44] Birdman’s love for music [56:08] Hopes for a Cash Money reunion tour and biopic [58:24] Who “won” the most in Cash Money’s history?Listen: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | SoundCloud | Stitcher | Overcast | Amazon | Google Podcasts | Pocket Casts | RSSHost: Dan Runcie, @RuncieDan, trapital.coGuests: Zack O’Malley Greenburg, @zogblogEnjoy this podcast? Rate and review the podcast here! is home for the business of music, media and culture. Learn more by reading Trapital’s free memo.Transcription[00:00:00] Zack: You know, some of the subsequent deals that they worked out with Universal, you know, maybe some of the deals where they were able to get universal to, to tackle some of the back office stuff. I mean, it's very unsexy, but you know, that's clearly an area where they needed to improve. So, let's say,to give some cash in terms of like higher distribution fee in order to have Universal, you know, cover some of this stuff. It's kinda like a boring, dark horse candidate, but you know, I mean, you could say that, that's probably useful in terms of buttoning things up.[00:00:37] Dan Intro: Hey, welcome to the Trapital Podcast. I'm your host and the founder of Trapital, Dan Runcie. This podcast is your place to gain insights from the executives in music, media, entertainment, and more who are taking hip hop culture to the next level.[00:00:57] Dan: All right. Today's episode is all about the one, the only cash money records. I got the one and only Zack Greenberg here who has reported on this company many times before we ran to this company and the business moves they did in our Top 10 Revolutionary list last year. So Zack, welcome back. I'm excited for this one.[00:01:18] Zack: Always good to be here with you, Dan. [00:01:19] Dan: Yeah. So for the folks listening, we are gonna do this in a few ways. We got a bunch of categories here that we're gonna run through, just evaluating Cash Money as a business, some of the highs, some of the lows, and just where they stand overall. But I think it'll be great to kick it off with the question that we often hear from folks is Cash Money, the greatest hip hop record label of all time? What's your point? What's your take?[00:01:44] Zack: How, man, you know, I mean, I think it's sort of like, any of these greatest ever are you talking about, overall body of work or sort of like, you know, The label at its peak. But you know, I think you gotta take it in an overall body of work, you know, type of thing. You know, it's hard to top Def Jam, I think, you know, if you were gonna go with an overall body of work, hip hop, legacy. But, you know, I don't know other than that, I mean, it's hard to say that there's anybody who you'd put above cash money, I'd say. Especially something that is, you know, really artist founded in that same way. I mean, you could talk about Bad Boy, you could talk about Rockefeller. But I think that, you know, Cash Money has staying power. You know, through Drake and Nikki and Lil Wayne and so forth, you know, in a way that, you know, I would argue that a lot of these other labels haven't, and, you know, who else can say that they've had Drake for that long? And I guess he's not there anymore. But man, that was pretty recent development and it's been a pretty great run. So, you know, to go all the way from the early nineties, you know, through basically now being relevant, stacking up all that catalog, you know, it's certainly, if not number one, it's, you know, gotta be top three, if not top two.[00:03:00] Dan: Yeah. So my answer is Def Jam as well, and we'll get to Def Jam in a minute. But, the case for Cash Money is this, and I know a few people have said it. Irv Gotti recently said it. Russell Simmons himself said that Cash Money was the greatest hip hop company that has come through. But the case for cash money, you mentioned it earlier, the fact that they did it while owning the core asset and the music and still doing that moving forward says a lot. Not something that can be said about Def Jam, many of the others that would be even in the conversation. I think even with a newer label at Quality Control, they've still done it while owning it. Well, at least up to this point from some rumors that are happening. But I think that's one case for Def Jam. But then I think of the continued run of success from everything that happened in the nineties from I guess we could start with like juvenile drop in HA in 98 and then pretty much everything from Drake's last Cash Money album, which I believe was Scorpion. So if you're looking just at like that run from everything there, that is such a strong hit rate. And I think that's the thing too that I would give them over Def Jam is the hit rate of who were the artists we signed and what was their likelihood of success and they were just able to do it. Even with the imprints, I mean, I think major record labels. So wrong with so many imprints. I just never worked out and for them to have, whether it's Young Money or even the smaller moments with the best music or with Rich Gain, there was always something there. And even though there was some conflict, and we'll get to that, I think that's the Cash Money case. The Def Jam case though, I think this is where I think of course Def Jam did end up becoming a major record label, so it's a little bit nuanced there, but I do think you have that eighties run Beasties LL Public Enemy. You got the nineties run with all those artists too. Especially looking at what Red Band met the man DMX. I feel like they had New York on Locke and then two thousands, the Rockefeller partner. Murder Inc. The video games, I mean, it's, I know the last decade hasn't been there, but it would be tough to not put Def Jam up top, but I understand if some people would consider Def Jam a major as opposed to, you know, an independent. So, I get the nuance there. [00:05:10] Zack: right, right. And, and being, you know, fully owned by a major as opposed to Cash Money, which really has distribution agreement. You know, and you could look at, you know, I guess Def Jam was sold in chunks, but the total amount that sold for, you'd have to adjust for inflation and stuff. But I wonder how that would stack up against the current value of cash money today, which, you know, it's incredibly driven by the copyrights that they still control and, you know, definitely hundreds of millions of dollars. You know, if you look at, Lil Wayne kind of quietly sold his The Young Money, Cash Money Partnership for a hundred million bucks a couple years ago, that was before the catalog boom, got really crazy and then kind of died down again. So, you know that that's valuing what Birdman and Slim Own, you know, just on the Young Money, Cash Money side of the business, you know, at nine figures. So there's, you know, there's a lot more to the company than that, although that's, you know, that's kind of the gold line. But still, you gotta think that, you know, this is still, you know, sent a million dollar business and, you know, I'd be curious to see what a proper valuation, you know, what it would look like against the total value that Def Jam got, you know, in terms of dollars over the years. But, you know, when you think about who was hottest and what record label was hottest at any particular point, Yeah, I think probably the peak was there was that year that Def Jam was, you know, getting sold or the second half of it was getting sold. And, Lyor basically said to Jay and D M X, like, let's have two albums this year. And, you know, because the valuation is gonna be based on revenues, not earnings. And like, the more you can sell, the more we get. And so, you know, that moment at D M X at his peak, and you know, Jay, I think, I'd say at least at his commercial, you know, record Sales Peak, you know, as an individual artist, you know, that was about as hot as, as it could ever get for, for any record label, I think. [00:07:08] Dan: That's a good point. So I guess if we were to compare Def Jams 98 and 99, like that run to Yeah. Cash Money, and I know there's a few runs you could put in there, but from an overall commercial perspective, it would have to be 0 8, 0 9 20 10, I would probably assume, because you get. Carter three, and then you get, you know, Drake's debut, Nikki's debut. I feel like it would probably be somewhere in there. [00:07:34] Zack: Yeah, that's probably pretty close. I mean, that was a lot, you know, that was a lot of
I had a great chat about the future of streaming and more with Ari Herstand, who isan independent artist who also runs Ari’s Take, an education business to teach others artists about the industry. He just released the third edition of his book, How To Make It In the New Music Business.Ari joined me to discuss how artists are navigating new music releases. It's increasingly getting out of the artist’s hands in favor of the uncontrollable algorithms powering the likes of Spotify and TikTok. Ari says it’s like, “playing the lottery.” While algorithms are taking the human element out of music discovery, that human touch has found itself into new artist monetization tools like NFTs. It has inverted what Ari calls an artist’s “pyramid of investment” for an artist growing their fanbase.Ari and I covered a lot of ground on this episode. Here’s what you can expect to hear from us:[3:10] Waterfall release method infiltrating Spotify[8:15] Music discovery power shifting away from human, toward algorithms [11:40] DSP’s purposely pulling power away from playlist editors[19:21] TikTok isn’t for every artist[21:26] Evolving team structure of an indie artist [27:55] Role of music NFTs[31:44] How Sammy Arriaga sold $250k of NFTs to non-fans[40:02] The Pyramid of investment [49:10] Ari the musician vs. Ari the educator [50:05] Updated version of How To Make It In New Music Business bookListen: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | SoundCloud | Stitcher | Overcast | Amazon | Google Podcasts | Pocket Casts | RSSHost: Dan Runcie, @RuncieDan, trapital.coGuest: Ari Herstand, @ariherstandLearn more about Ari's book, How to Make It in the New Music Business here: https://book.aristake.comLearn more about Ari's Take here: week’s sponsor is Laylo. Join artists like Kodak Black, Sam Smith, and others who notify their fans instantly when they drop merch, tickets, and more. Create your own drop page for free in seconds at laylo.comEnjoy this podcast? Rate and review the podcast here! is home for the business of music, media and culture. Learn more by reading Trapital’s free memo.TRANSCRIPTION[00:00:00] ARI HERSTANDI'm not a good recording engineer and I'm not a producer. So that's another team member that I'm going to hire when I make a record. Like I'm not Finneas. I'm not going to make a record in my bedroom. Like I can't do that. And that's not what I want to do. Like honestly, that doesn't inspire me. What inspires me is to make music with other people.[00:00:26] DAN RUNCIE INTROHey, 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.[00:01:36] DAN RUNCIEToday's episode is a playbook for all the indie artists out there. I had a great conversation with Ari Herstand, who is a musician himself, and he's also the founder of Ari's Take, which is his education business that focuses on how artists can make it today, especially indie artists. How indie artists can make it today in the new music business. And that's actually the title of the third edition of this upcoming book. Ari and I talked a lot about some of the new and updated insights that he has in this edition of the book, specifically around streaming, and how artists are starting to favor and prefer focusing on algorithms and how that can get them more listeners and where playlists currently sit with artists prioritizing them. And we also talk about NFTs, TikTok, and Ari's concept in the book called the Pyramid of Investment. This is a great conversation for anyone that wants to better understand the music industry, especially for the growing segment of independent artists that are carving their lanes out for themselves. Here's the episode. Hope you enjoy it.[00:01:48] DAN RUNCIEAll right, today we are joined by Ari Herstand, who is the author of his new book that's coming out, how to make it in the new music business. He's an artist himself, and I was lucky enough to be a guest on his podcast a couple months back. So Ari, it's great to have you on. And congrats on the book coming up.[00:02:06] ARI HERSTANDYeah, thanks, Dan. Thank you. Thank you. Very exciting. The third edition and get ramped up for that. But it's great to be here with you today. Thanks for having me.[00:02:17] DAN RUNCIEYeah, definitely. And I know for you, one of the big topics of the book is just how artists continue to evolve with how they're releasing music, how they're paying attention to what's going on with streaming right now. I feel like you have a good vantage point for this because you're doing so much of this yourself with your own releases. What are some of the big changes? Because I know that everything post-pandemic has been a little different, and now we're heading into this new phase right now with the new year. What's the big thing for you that you're seeing with the evolution?[00:09:07] ARI HERSTANDRight. So every artist needs to ask themselves what their intentions are with their release. And so, you know, the beautiful thing about the new music business and the scary and daunting thing about the new music business is there really isn't a right or a wrong way to do anything. There is the right and wrong way for you. And that could be the wrong way for me. So everyone, you know, it's based on your intentions and what your goals are for the release. If we just go, you know, more in the mainstream realm or let's just say your intention is to be successful on Spotify. Because that's a metric that most artists these days are kind of using to gauge the success of their release. And they want to have the best chance of, you know, grabbing that Spotify, being being blessed by the Spotify God, I guess. So to do that, there is a very specific release strategy that has been studied and now tested and now used by everyone from Lizzo and Krungman to Maggie Rogers to Robert Glassberg. And that's the waterfall release method. And Indie artists, you know, that are just releasing their first few singles are using this as well. I mean, this is the waterfall release method. And I'll break this down a little bit on what this means. This has started to get used a few years ago, but it really picked up last year in 2022. And now 2023 is I think going to be the year of the waterfall. But basically what it is is that, you know, you release singles leading up to the album. That has been happening for years now. However, here's what gets a little bit more where where it gets a nuance on how those singles are released. It's you don't just release a single song anymore as a single. You release your first single one song. That's just the one song released one second now your second single is that the new song is track number one. And the previous single that you released is track number two. So it's technically your second single, but it's kind of like a two song album. If you really go that way, if you're tuning it up, if you're an artist is to the artist asking this all the time. Well, how do I do this in my district? back end or whatever, like doing it's a two song album. And the way that the streams maintain for the previous single and that you don't lose your playlist inclusion, all that stuff is you use the same highest or C number. And so it's if you use the same highest or C number that used when you released that track, a month prior, it will be identical stream counts. And then a month later, you release your third single, but that's now a three track album. You know track number one is the new single track number two is the single you release a month ago and track number three is the is the single you release two months ago. And as long again, use the same highest or C numbers, it'll be included in the same playlist. They will be identical tracks, wherever they're included on people's algorithm, personal playlists, all that stuff. You can do this. People are doing five or six singles that way. And then the album and this release method, you know, this could take eight months, essentially, if you want to do one single every four to six weeks, and then the album. How you can kind of look at it, is you're building the album. And so it doesn't have to go on order, you can pick whatever order you want based on your singles. And then the final album is the album order, no correlation doesn't have to be the single order, you can pick whatever order you want each time. The track art can be different each time. I've seen it, people do different single art for each release. I've seen people just use the album cover for every release. So you know, at the end, you might have like six singles released that each have a few different songs on them. And then the full album, some people pull those previous singles down. So if they want to get a clean discography going up there, you just have a final album at the end of the day. And the previous singles with like the two song album, a three-song album, the four-song album before they pull those down. But you're not going to lose any playlists, you're not going to lose any stream counts because you're using same iris to scene numbers each time. So that is a release method, and the reason people are doing it this way is for the Spotify algorithm because Spotify likes to have regular releases. And if you send somebody say, hey, here's my new song and you send them the link, they're going to listen to that song. Now, if there's nothing, no other songs following that song to listen to, after your song finishes, Spotify is going to recommend them something to listen to or they're going to jump off and listen to something else. Now, if you give them the songs to listen to that after your previous releases, they'll stick around and keep listening to it. So the reason people are doing this is for the Spotify algorithm, but also to keep their fans engage
Sean “Diddy” Combs is one of hip-hop’s most serial entrepreneurs. His business track record stretches 30 years with successes in completely-different industries — music (Bad Boys Records), clothing (Sean John), spirits (Ciroc and DeLeon), media (Revolt), among many other ventures. To take a closer look at Combs' empire, I brought on Tarik Brooks, who is the president of Combs Enterprises. Many chalk up Diddy’s entrepreneurial success to his influence and brand alone. While Tarik doesn’t deny Diddy’s star power, he also argues that line of thinking understates Diddy’s business acumen — his ability to spot trends, attract talent, raise capital, and so forth. Not only that, but the broadness of Combs Enterprises is a unique competitive advantage. Diddy’s different businesses across sectors give them unique data points that can drive decision-making. The group announced a new foray into cannabis in late 2022. However, they won’t enter the space completely void of knowledge. Using insights from Revolt or Ciroc, they can glean how customers think about cannabis already.  Tarik and I dove deep into Diddy’s sprawling business empire this episode — the “why” not the “how” behind Puff’s success. Here’s what you can expect to hear: [0:00] Combs Enterprises’ focus in 2023[2:22] Synergies between Diddy’s different businesses [4:40] Using Revolt Summit as a testing ground [6:29] Origins of the “Ciroc playbook”  [9:32] How much strategic overlap is there between Ciroc and DeLeon marketing? [15:41] Entering the cannabis space[18:00] Regulatory challenges in the cannabis industry[26:01] Why Diddy is not just another celebrity entrepreneur [30:03] How Combs Enterprises invests in startups[34:21] Did Diddy really back Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter?[36:45] No rush to sell Bad Boy Records catalog [41:32] Sean John comeback [47:05] Diddy’s attempt to buy the Carolina Panthers in 2018Listen: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | SoundCloud | Stitcher | Overcast | Amazon | Google Podcasts | Pocket Casts | RSSHost: Dan Runcie, @RuncieDan, trapital.coGuest: Tarik A. Brooks, @tarikamin  Enjoy this podcast? Rate and review the podcast here! Trapital is home for the business of music, media and culture. Learn more by reading Trapital’s free memo.TRANSCRIPTION[00:00:00] Tarik Brooks: Twitter's impact in society is certainly bigger than how it shows up from a profit and loss and from a market cap perspective. And when you look at, you know, where Twitter is trading today is trading at a fraction of like Facebook or like Snapchat is the question from an investment perspective with some you could create meaningful.[00:00:33] Dan Runcie: Hey, welcome to the podcast. I'm your host and the founder of Dan Runcie. This podcast is your place to gain insights from the executives in music, media, entertainment, and more who are taking hip hop culture to the next level. [00:00:53] Dan Runcie: All right, today we got my guy, Tarik Brooks, the president of Combs Enterprises. Second time on the podcast. Great to have you back, man.[00:01:01] Tarik Brooks: Happy New Year my brother. Great to be back. [00:01:03] Dan Runcie: So what's the latest from the House of Combs?[00:01:08] Tarik Brooks: Things are wonderful enterprises, man. Tremendous 2022, where we did a lot of investing in our existing platforms and in new platforms. And so, you know, the big push in 23. Is to operationalized and grow a lot of those new platforms. You know, a lot of people are familiar with the cannabis deal, which we announced late last year. We're gonna close that deal and get that operational. We've also been working on an e-commerce platform with Salesforce, called it Power Global, that will launch this year, you know, released music last year. That did great. I mean, he and a sub-Christian. You know, with the first father and son duo to be number one. At the same time, there'll be more projects from Love Records coming in this year. So a lot of new things are in 23, so I wanna accustom a lot of exciting developments. [00:01:56] Dan Runcie: And I feel like one of the strengths for him whenever he is launching a new brand is being able to find some type of synergy between something that he's done that's already worked and finding some way to tie it all together. And for you, I know you've been there for a couple years. Is there like one company or one tie in that really stands out about, oh yeah, what Puff is able to do here? Tweak the formula a little bit, brought it over to this company and then it helped that one too.[00:02:22] Tarik Brooks: Yeah. It is interesting, man, like, because you know, with the ecosystem we have that there are synergies all over the place that we work hard to exploit everyday. What I'll tell you bigger thing is that underneath our ecosystem sits the core premise, a core belief that our culture drives culture, that our people drive what's cool and what's next and what's hot in a meaningful way. So, you know, you go back to blues and jazz and rock and roll to hip hop, TikTok, viral dances, like our people drive that. And so if you look at all of the different elements in our ecosystem. What you see are different sectors that we drive through our cultural presence. And so when you look at our platform through that lens, you see how they all fit together. So then synergies just become finding places where, you know, we can work together to make one plus one equal three or four. Right? And so like, you know, easy examples when you think about how you know our brands will show up at the Revolt Summit. So Revolt hosts this amazing event every year in Atlanta. 10,000 people come. It gives us an opportunity to kinda have revolt, touch to people, but also have ourown touch to people for us to do research for new companies that we're developing the test concepts. These are ways that we don't place there with our ecosystem. I mean, I look at a great example. Deleon tequila. Used Druski in an ad, you know, super funny guy. Did a tremendous job with the ad. We then, you know, connected in with the team in Revolt and he did something with Revolt. It ended up being a great, great opportunity there. So like throughout our ecosystem, you see all these opportunities that exist with our portfolio companies and with the companies that we invest in. We think about how we invest and part of it is all the stuff you expect from any traditional investment vehicle. You know, do you have great leadership? Do you have a strong destructive concept? But what we also know about there two or three ways that this thing could be utilized is our ecosystem for the company. So it's an everyday activity, you know, finding, exploiting, and developing those things [00:04:31] Dan Runcie:  You mentioned earlier about the Revolt Summit and how that can be a test space for whether it's new products or new things. Can you talk more about that? Cause I think that's really interesting. [00:04:40] Tarik Brooks: Yeah, so I mean this past Revolt Summit, the team at Empowered Global, which is the eCommerce platform that I just mentioned, had a space set up where they could introduce the concept to the participants at the Revolt Summit. And more than that, we actually had, and it was, I gotta find you a picture of this. A digital vending machine that was filled with black-owned products. So, and kinda like what you would see at the airport where you have vending machines, where they kinda have, you know, non typical vending machine products, headphones, and different things like that. Our vending machine that we had set up in the Revolt Summit was all filled with products that were owned by black that came from black owned companies. And so that was like just a real example. In that moment, we were able to introduce people to the concept of the platform, try out some new tech and get real time feedback from people who we believe will be a part of that target. [00:05:34] Dan Runcie: That makes sense. Yeah. Because you wanna have people that are first bought in, you get the people there and I think the people that are gonna attend Revolt Summit likely end up being culture shapers or mavens within their particular area themselves. They start saying something's good, and then they can, you know, go back and that's how you're able to spread things.[00:05:52] Tarik Brooks: 100%. It's the way, you know, everybody talks about it in terms of synergies, but we like to talk about it in terms of not planting there, right? Like we have these resources, we have these brands that mean something to people. You know that the most impactful thing we can do is find out how putting those brands together at different times in different ways produces more information, produces more insight, produces more, you know, revenue generating opportunity than any of those entities in silos. So for me, like the silo is the enemy, right? Like the key is to have all of our leaders and all of our team members continuously engaging in a very fluid way.[00:06:29] Dan Runcie: Yeah, the one that always stuck out to me too was Ciroc and the on the ground promotion for that, because there are so many through lines going back to The Bad Boy Days, the Bad Boy Street team, and then the Ciroc Boys. It's very similar playbook and being able to help push that. [00:06:45] Tarik Brooks: Yeah, I mean, look, and again, the playbook is the same. It's the same. You know, when you look at what the spirits industry looked at at the time, it was very different from today. You know, a lot of folks don't realize at that time the only people really trying to market, know black people in the hip was more liquor. Right? Cause I know I wasn't on the team back then, but what I can tell you is he looked at how nightlife worked and how the culture was working and evolving and saw a huge opportunity for an aspirational luxury product. And then was able to apply a lot of the same tools that were driving his success in the music business in spirit
I had the pleasure of being the keynote speaker at New York University’s Annual Alumni Event for its music business department. Big thanks to Larry Miller, a professor and director of the program, for inviting me. It was a free-flowing conversation focused on how technology is reshaping the music industry from top-to-bottom. We’re well into the streaming era now, but some of the second-order effects are barely starting to ripple — particularly the oversaturation of content. It’s easier and cheaper than ever to release music, which explains how tens of thousands of new songs are uploaded to Spotify on a daily basis.On one hand, this has ushered in a golden era of independent artists making a career without the backing of a label. On the other hand, value is increasingly accruing to the superstar artists. Most of these superstars were “grandfathered” into this new era as they were already household names before streaming took off. Reaching that same superstar status is harder and harder for new artists due to the industry’s oversaturation. Larry and I dove deeper into the issue during our conversation. Students also hit me with Q&A about burning topics such as ChatGPT, botted streaming numbers, and much more. Here’s what you can expect to hear on this episode: [2:02] Introduction from Larry Miller [5:09] Superstar artists like Taylor Swift and Drake shining brighter than ever[10:22] Too many hits, not enough superstars[17:23] How Curren$y “niched down” to break through[24:18] Tradeoffs of going independent or the major label route[26:47] Industry takeaways from Spotify and YouTube’s billions playlists[30:32] YouTube’s competitive advantage over Spotify[34:09] Evolving Trapital’s own business model[39:43] Music’s bot problem in streaming and ticketing[42:07] Is the music superstar dead?[44:19] Picking a platform(s) as a new artist[46:24] How oversaturated music landscape impacts listeners[49:03] Is New York drill music the next wave?[50:48] Pros and cons of AI musicTrapital’s first-ever Cultural Report for 2022: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | SoundCloud | Stitcher | Overcast | Amazon | Google Podcasts | Pocket Casts | RSSHost: Dan Runcie, @RuncieDan,  Enjoy this podcast? Rate and review the podcast here! Trapital is home for the business of music, media and culture. Learn more by reading Trapital’s free memo.TRANSCRIPTION[00:00:00] Dan Runcie: Both Spotify and YouTube generated a tremendous amount of revenue for the music industry. I believe Spotify had last shared that they generated 7 billion for the industry. YouTube generates six or seven, I think it's 6 billion. The last thing that I had seen them put in. So that is a sign. Okay, great. You know, you tie that back into the numbers you shared before. You can do a little bit of backwards math to see how much of that is responsible for the overall industry with where it is now. So you see that, and then you also know that like anything else, the most popular songs drive most of that revenue. So you can kind of get a good idea to be like, okay, what are the songs that are driving? The music industry right now. [00:00:46] 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. [00:01:04] (Intro) Dan Runcie: This episode is a fun one. We're sharing the audio from a talk that I recently gave at NYU. I was the keynote speaker at an event there for several hundred alumni and students. For the music business program, it starts off with a 10 minute talk by me where I'm giving an overview on the lay of the land with where things lay right now with streaming and music and social media, and how artists are doing their best to navigate all of the noise that's happening right now. And then it pivots into a conversation. Which is a fireside chat with me and Larry Miller, who's the head of the music program at N Y U, and we talk even more about what certain artists are doing, right? We talked about Currensy, who I recently had on the podcast a couple months ago. We also talk a little bit about me and Trapital and building this and where I see things going in the future. Really fun conversation. I really enjoyed doing this event and I hope you enjoyed this. Here it goes. [00:02:02] Larry Miller: Dan Runcie is the founder of Trapital. Trapital has become an amazing media platform and the quality and amount of content, really insightful content that Dan cranks out as remarkable. It's just remarkable. What it's about is the people who are taking hip hop and culture to the next level. That includes the artists who are becoming moguls, leaders who are reaching new heights and fans inspired by hip hop's growing influence. Dan, when he'd school, and I suppose even, you know, business school. This media company Trapital, because he wanted to see a change. The hip hop execs that he looked up to were becoming really successful business leaders, but he felt that they rarely got the coverage that they deserved. And he wanted to do something about it. So he launched Trapital in March of 2018, and the business has grown ever since. Tens of thousands of influential people read Trapital's weekly memos and listen to the Trapital Podcast every week to stay ahead of the latest trends. Trapital's been featured pretty much everywhere. Places like The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, and the BBC and N P R,  C N B C and lots of other places are turning to Dan for insights on the business of hip hop. Dan's recent coverage has focused on lots of things. He's focused on the surprising differences between Spotify's and YouTube's. Billion stream playlists. Just looking at the ones that have done a billion on each platform. There are actually some pretty interesting differences between those two platforms. He's done significant work on how a venture capital fund from a 16 Z, Andreas and Horowitz invest money that is raised exclusively from black leaders in entertainment, sports, and business. He's done a report on the so-called decline in the influence of hip hop culture. He's done work on the future of ticketing. He's done a lot on DIY careers in hip hop, and done some really insightful reporting around Joe Kelli's amazing new book, Rap Capital, the Rise and Reign of Atlanta's hip hop culture, which if you haven't read it, get it. Dan got his MBA from a school in the Midwest, I think it's called Michigan, and he lives in San Francisco with his wife, and small child, daughter. Please give a warm NYU music biz welcome to Dan Runcie.[00:05:09] Dan Runcie: Larry, thank you to the entire faculty, alumni for having me. It's an honor to be here. And I guess to start things off, because she's been brought up a few times, Taylor Swift has been a topic I know a lot of you thought about. So just outta curiosity, how many of you tried to buy Taylor Swift tickets this week? Okay, a few hands. Keep those hands up if you actually got Taylor Swift tickets this week. Okay? All right. Well, people will have to follow up with you all after to figure out exactly how you did that, but I think that's an interesting place to start with so much of what's happening right now in the music industry, because Ticketmaster, as most of you know, the whole entire app and the site crash because of the high demand. Ticketmaster put out this blog post and they said that they had five times the amount of hits compared to the Super Bowl, compared to other high days worth of events for this concert alone for Taylor Swift, and she's someone that's been on tour before. She's someone that has done plenty of things in music, but to see this kind of demand is pretty surprising. But she also broke a bunch of records with the album that she just put out a couple weeks ago, Midnights, and it's made me think about something we've talked a lot about recently, in Trapital. Something we've done a lot of research on. Right now there is so much music coming. I see, I think a few of you probably saw that music business Worldwide article, Spotify releases it. A hundred thousand songs a day get uploaded to that service. Most of those songs don't get listened to, to be clear, but a hundred thousand songs a day is still something else. And then as Larry had mentioned as well, Live Nation and a lot of these other event promoters and ticketing companies are having their biggest quarters and biggest years. And artists like Taylor are probably going to be having record years. And on the flip side, you also look at someone like Drake. Him and 21 Savage recently just put out their album, Her Loss. I think Drake gave one week's notice on this album, fourth highest streaming week that an album has ever had, which is pretty impressive. I know that Drake's a superstar, but still, even his past albums before this had plenty of buildup before where if you think about what he did with Scorpion or even the long buildup for an album like Certified Lover Boy. But the fact that Drake can announce on short notice is pretty surprising because if you think about where things are in music, you have more artists than ever that wanna tour. You have more artists than ever that are releasing music, but it's the superstar artists that are still the ones that people are gravitating more towards and they're the ones that are still getting most of the profits. But on the other side of the spectrum, things are getting a little bit tougher because Larry mentioned it a little bit earlier, but a lot of artists are struggling to make toward profitable, especially post pandemic the way that things are right now. Inflation costs are rising. It's costing so much more from freight costs to be able to travel with an entire production set from city to city, hotel airfare. So certain artists are selling out their tours or selling
I’m digging into the mailbag for today’s episode. For the first time in over a year, I asked Trapital listeners and readers to send me their most burning questions about the music industry. I’ve pulled out nine questions from the bunch to cover on the show. We’re covering everything from NFTs to artificial-intelligence-assisted music creation to investing in music catalogs going forward and a whole lot more. I’m hitting you with my honest thoughts on each. Here’s a look at the topics:[0:54] State of music NFTs [4:40] Customer problems as a music startup[8:35] Lack of new music superstars [12:07] Future of AI-assisted music creation [17:00] Tradeoff for artists wanting ownership [22:11] Hasbro selling eOne[26:16] Music catalog investing in 2023[29:41] Globalization of hip-hop [33:21] Emerging artists as startup founders Trapital’s first-ever Cultural Report for 2022: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | SoundCloud | Stitcher | Overcast | Amazon | Google Podcasts | Pocket Casts | RSSHost: Dan Runcie, @RuncieDan, Sponsors: MoonPay is the leader in web3 infrastructure. They have partnered with Timbaland, Snoop Dogg, and many more. To learn more, visit Check out The Drop, REVOLT's weekly newsletter to stay ahead of the latest news in hip-hop and Black culture. To learn more, visit Enjoy this podcast? Rate and review the podcast here! Trapital is home for the business of music, media and culture. Learn more by reading Trapital’s free memo.TRANSCRIPTION[00:00:00] Dan Runcie: If you're an owner of I.P., often times that I.P. may be the most valuable thing that you have. But does it always make sense for you to then be the ones that produce it? Of course, there's unique examples of this, right? I think Disney is a company that clearly does both, but Disney is such a unicorn in what it does in so many ways, and we've all seen that flywheel of what they've done, and that flywheel is so relevant because it's hard to see another company that could really do that to that level. But it's more likely than not that if you are an I.P. owner or it's probably in your best financial interest to partner with a company that you can leverage their production because they are skilled at being a production company to do that thing.[00:00:46] Dan Runcie: Hey, welcome to the podcast. I'm your host and the founder of Dan Runcie. This podcast is your place to gain insights from the executives in music, media, entertainment, and more who are taking hip hop culture to the next level. [00:01:04] (Intro) Dan Runcie: From you, the listeners who make Trapital, exactly what it is. So this is a mailbag question where you all sent in your best questions. Some of you emailed them, some of you posted them on socials, but I looked at the questions and picked the best ones, and this is a mailbag episode. It's been a while since we did one of these, so it felt good to do one. I actually wanna do these more often just because I think the questions were really great and we're able to address a bunch of topics that we'll get into A.I, the future of music, globalization, ownership, and all the topics that we love to break down on capital and a few ones. So let's jump in.[00:01:41] (Pre Roll Ad Moonpay) [00:02:11] Dan Runcie: All right. Today we have our one and only Mailbag episode from Trapital. It's been a while since we did one of these. I feel, maybe at some point earlier this year we did a mailbag, so it was finally good to dig back in, hear from folks and be able to answer the questions that a lot of you have been thinking. This podcast has grown quite a bit this past year and was in the 1% for the most shared podcast according to Spotify wrap, so that was pretty good. Some applause for that. And I wanted to bring in some of the questions from some of the avid listeners and readers we have. So I posted in social media, posted in the newsletter, and this is a roundup of the best ones. Covered a bunch of topics. We're gonna talk about the future of A.I and music, the state of NFTs, globalization, ownership, and a whole lot more. So let's dive into the first question we have here. So, Ken Penn wants to know what is the current state of music NFTs and our major labels as interested in them as they were? So first for some clear context, a lot of people have been asking questions about this because the general trends of N F T discussions from last year to this year is not quite what you would expect. A lot of people saw that Bloomberg report that came out earlier in 2022, I think they said, N F T transactions were down 97% from the peak that they were at in 2021. And if you type in the word NFTs in Google Trends, you'll probably see a slope that looks quite downward. That is very true, and that's clearly where that is. But I think there's a big difference between that, which I think 97% of that was the hype and a lot of the crap that you likely would only see at the height of the pandemic when money was flowing like crazy. Think about the time when like Pet rocks were being sold and Logan Paul was buying his NFTs or trying to sell his NFTs for whatever. If that was the top of the market, then I think we're seeing things level off a bit more now because you are still seeing partnerships from the major labels and from a lot of artists. I look at Warner Music Group. Warner's been active, more active than any other major label, I think, when it comes to active investments and being forward-looking and being public about those investments. And it was just six, seven weeks ago that they had formed a partnership with Open Sea, which is one of the largest platforms out there to be able to trade in as a marketplace to be able to buy and sell NFTs. So you also have other deals that we've seen. Universal Music Group recently hired two SVPs that are focused on web three with a pretty strong focus on NFTs themselves. And more broadly, you have companies like Public Pressure that just raised $6 million to continue to build in this space. I have said this a few times in this podcast, but I think that Web three and NFT specifically, you had to get through era. You had to get through that phase of people just starting shit because it sounded like it was something that was gonna resonate, but after a lot of that didn't work out. You obviously had bubble burst. That era still gave us Google, it still gave us Amazon and all these other companies that have still continued to be successful and be some of the biggest companies in the world today. And I think there was a very strong chance that we will still have that with this current wave. It may look slightly different in music, but I still think that we're gonna see, and we have seen more of the true opportunities, whether it's on the artist side of artists that are selling actual NFTs that their fans would find valuable and that others will wanna buy into as well. And I think you'll see this on the major label side with more investment going into acts that can actually reap the rewards from it. One of the biggest deals of 2022 when it comes to N F T sales was Snoop. and what he was able to do, just capturing that momentum. After the Super Bowl. We wrote, or I covered a lot of this in the culture report that Trapital put out will include a link to it in the show notes if you haven't checked it out yet, but still a lot of upside on NFTs. I do not see it quite as much as the bubble that I think was clearly there in 2021. A lot of that quarantine rapid growth needed to calm back down a bit, and I think NFTs are one of the areas that were hit a lot harder than others, but I still think that there's plenty of upside for people that actually wanna build and don't just wanna do grifter, whatever the hell else people were trying to buy itself time. Another question here is from David from Santa Monica, and this was actually a reply to a newsletter that I recently put out where I was talking about some of the cost challenges that music startups and music tech companies will face as in regards to working with customers and customer service and working and dealing with unprofitable customers and wanting to move further up. Mark's question was whether or not I had any data on the customer service costs that these companies have. And I wanna answer that question in a slightly different way. It's less about customer service in the same way that you know, you or I may go call Comcast or may call Xfinity when we're having an issue with our cable or our internet, but it's more so you are a client or customer that is trying to use this particular service, whether it's free or you're relying on it to grow your own business, and you are now having some challenges, you're having some type of question. The thing is a lot of the companies, especially a lot of the distribution platforms, started off being available to everyone, but I think they realized how expensive it is to serve the clients and to serve the customers who are not driving the most business possible. It's no different than a lot of people see when they're working with client services. Overall, your $2 million clients in a lot of ways can be so much more enjoyable to deal with and work with than your $2,000 clients or $2,000 clients will chat a nickel and a dime. They have a bunch of questions about this, that, and the third, but your clients that have a bit more money, they normally come in a bit more clear and confident with what they're looking for, and it can lead to better business in the long run. And I think to a lot of extent, the same is true with a lot of the artists that you end up serving or a lot of the customers that a lot of these platforms end up serving because a lot of their time gets spent with customers that just don't justify the ROI of how much it costs to have that person on staff continue to work and continue to coach and work dire
This episode is a two-parter. At the top, I talk about the news at Motown Records with Ethiopia Habtemariam stepping down from her role as CEO and Chairwoman. After that, I talked to Zack O’Malley Greenburg about Hip-Hop’s wealthiest artists of 2022. After years of compiling the list for Forbes, Zack O’Malley Greenburg released the 2022 edition independently. This time around, he used insights from Columbia Business School to better grasp on the wealth of the industry’s biggest moguls.Jay-Z tops the updated list with an estimated net worth of $1.5 billion. In second is the newly-minted billionaire Sean “Diddy” Combs. The rankings are rounded out by Ye ($500 million), Berner ($410 million), and Dr. Dre ($400 million). Zack joined me on the episode to discuss the rankings, and two artists in particular — Diddy and Berner. Diddy has a portfolio of diversified assets that include media, music, spirits, and now cannabis. Berner is the biggest surprise of the top 5 but has quietly built a cannabis empire with a large runway for further growth. Here’s everything Zack and I covered on the show: [13:56] Zack’s process behind putting the list together  [15:40] The newest billionaire on the list[16:41] The growth of Diddy’s DeLeon tequila brand[29:02] Sean John’s place in Diddy’s portfolio [30:28] Diddy’s latest moves in cannabis and possibly Twitter [32:45] The evolving business of REVOLT[36:19] Berner’s “surprise” $410 million net worth[31:50] High potential for Berner’s business[34:52] Berner’s business success supersedes his music fame [39:50] Drake moving up the ranks [43:50] Girl Dad storiesZack’s Hip-Hop’s Wealthiest Artists list for 2022: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | SoundCloud | Stitcher | Overcast | Amazon | Google Podcasts | Pocket Casts | RSSHost: Dan Runcie, @RuncieDan, trapital.coGuests: Zack O’Malley Greenburg, @zogblog 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] 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 the executives in music, media, entertainment, and more who are taking hip hop culture to the next level.[00:00:23] Dan Runcie: Hey, today's episode is a two parter. The first part of the episode, we're gonna do a breakdown on one of the more recent news that happened in the music industry. Motown Records CEO and Chairwoman Ethiopia Habtemariam has stepped down and there is a lot to unpack there. So we're gonna talk about that. And in the second half of this episode, we're joined by my guy Zack O'Malley Greenburg, and we are gonna talk about the recent list that he put out, which is his hip hop's 2022 list for the wealthiest artist. He has some new announcements, some usual names, and we break it all down. But first, let's start with the news at Motown. So it was last week, shortly after Thanksgiving. Ethiopia and Universal, and Motown announced that she will be stepping down from her role. This is a role that she has officially had at this level for just over a year and a half. I think it was March, 2021 that the role was announced, but she's essentially been the face of Motown from a leadership perspective for over a decade now and when the move happened, I think that there were a fair amount of people I could understand that could have been caught off guard by it. But when I start asking around, asking a few people questions who I know understand the situation pretty well, it's quick to see that what's being pushed publicly isn't quite reflecting what's actually happening behind closed doors. But before we get to all that, let's talk about some of the wins that I think Motown and Ethiopia have accomplished over the past decade, because I think these stand out and they're really important. I look at the 2015 joint venture deal that she did with quality control music, as one of those deals that can ultimately help bring a record label from its days of resting on its laurels to being able to get a bit more current. We've seen this happen time and time again. You look at Interscope in the early nineties. Interscope was a legacy rock and roll label. Jimmy Iovine was trying to figure out the next thing and then boom. Here comes Suge Knight. Here comes Dr. Dre and Death Row records comes through. Not only does Death Row continue to rise up with the supportive Interscope, but you also see Interscope adopt a bit of that cool factor and really revive itself, and now Interscope is continuing to be one of the strongest record labels that we have. You also saw that a few years later happened with Republic records and with cash money signs. The deal that I've talked about plenty of times on this podcast, that 1998 distribution deal and that deal did a lot for Baby and Slim, but it arguably did even more for Republic Records, which now I believe it's in its fourth year in a row, the leading industry or the leading record label in the industry when it comes to overall market share. And I do think that what quality control and Motown were able to do, do deserve some similar praise. But the slight difference here is that Motown for a lot of its time and even more so as we continue to learn, was saddled under the Capitol Music Group umbrella and didn't really have the opportunity to standalone as a true record label that could run on its own and be a standalone entity. The same way that we see with Interscope, the same way that you see with Republic. And some of the other record labels that are under the Universal Music Group umbrella. When the news first announced though, there wasn't as much chatter about Ethiopia's departure. You think about the times that Def Jam has turned over CEOs. There are think pieces on think piece. You can't get people to stop talking and sharing their opinions, and some of them on base, but people sharing their opinions about what Def Jam did and didn't do wrong, but there wasn't as much here. You saw a little bit in piece that Gail Mitchell at Billboard had done where I think she did a good breakdown. You could definitely read between the lines a little bit of some of the things that necessarily weren't being said, but what I think we started to unpack and what we started to get a sense for was, even though Motown had increased its market share considerably under Ethiopia's tenure, I believe back in 2017, it was around 0.4%. And as of most recently from what Billboard reported in 2022, it's at 0.95%. And that's great, more than double. And you think about how much more recorded music has grown from 2017 to 2022 now as well, that's a pretty huge growth and that's nothing to shy away from. The thing is, record label executives and the music industry aren't just judged on market share. You're judged on how efficient you are with what you do to acquire that market share. You're also judged on your ability to score deals and your ability to do it in a way that's efficient. Everyone still has a PNL at the end of the day. But I think the slight difference for some of these companies is that because they sit under the Universal Music Group umbrella, you may not necessarily know what's really happening unless you have a really discerning eye and you can put two and two together. And if you look at some of the moves that Motown has made over the years, there have been a number of big signings. But have those big signings always necessarily led to the type of results? You know, someone like Universal CEO, Lucian Green wants to see from a record label that now would be standing alone and no longer under the Capitol Music Group umbrella. You look at an artist like Lil Baby, who you know, through quality control, is part of that Motown collective. But, you needed a few more artists at that level and you needed to get them at affordable rates. And I think the biggest win that we saw from Motown in recent years was they recently signed NBA Young Boy. This is about a year after he started working with his record label, but how much did it cost to get NBA Young Boy? He had just posted on Instagram, this is two months before this deal was made public. He had just posted on Instagram, this was in August, 2022, that he was a 60 million dollar dude. You're saying you're a 60 million dude. A lot of people thought that was a cash money deal. They thought that was probably what Baby and Slim offered, but you later find out that this is what was coming from Motown, and I don't know if that's the number or not, but you can just assume a few things. One, NBA Young Boy was someone that just got out of his deal at Atlantic Records and he's getting out of his deal. This is the second most streamed artist according to HITS Daily Double for year to date for 2022. But as we also know about streams, not all streams are necessarily weighted the same, and those YouTube streams may not necessarily lead to the same payouts that you may get from the digital streaming providers. Your Spotify, your Apple music, your titles, your Amazon, and so forth. So you have that. You also mix that in with NBA Young Boy's audience isn't necessarily the type to go buy up a bunch of vinyl. They're not the type to go buy up a bunch of digital copies or then necessarily sell out an arena. And it's great that he has those streams, but he has those streams because he is dropping an album every other month. It's not the same as Columbia having a big release from Harry Styles and then monetizing the shit out of that. Or Kendrick Lamar having a big
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.
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.
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
Comments (3)

Precious Udegbue

loved this interview!

Apr 17th

Kyle Zeigler

this podcast is extra dope.

Jul 16th
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