GrindXDesign is an 8-week series of meetings-by-phone. The calls feature industry pros, talking on subjects that are firmly in the field of their expertise.
So, for example, we could have gotten Vanessa L. Satten, right, editor-in-chief of XXL, and Kim Osorio, below, editor-in-chief of The Source, to talk about touring, and what makes a good live show. They’re certainly knowledgeable, and would have had strong opinions.
In like manner, for our tutorial on how to get your music covered by magazines, we didn’t seek D.J. Premier, who has. We sought Vanessa and Kim, who do. We did this, because we wanted to make sure that the information you get, as a GrindXDesign registrant, is right and exact. (I’ve written about hip-hop professionally for 25 years, and felt comfortable giving advice in the video clip, above. But I wanted a discussion on how decisions are made given by those who make them.)
D.J. Premier, and Jay-Z engineer Young Guru, right, will both be live, tonight, at 8 pm ET, for GrindXDesign’s first tutorial. I’ll be interviewing them about production and songwriting. Then, I’ll turn our callers aloose to ask these wizards questions on those subjects…and, really, anything else that the students want to ask them.
Note: This is also the first time that Premier and Young Guru have ever appeared together to speak. So, there is a more-than-average amount of historical shine on the event, too.
We’re doing GrindXDesign to help people learn more about the art and business of hip-hop; to show the kind of projects we believe hip-hop needs in order to change; and as the foundation for future projects that, by repeating the formula, do the same…and more. Please kindly support these efforts.
Registration for GrindXDesign is $97. Go to GrindXDesign.com for more information and to get on board.
As Wendy Day gives recording contract facts, Cash Money Records
producer Mannie Fresh appears to regret every deal he ever signed.
This conversation is from last week’s Friday, August 10 edition of my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION. In it, music business activist Wendy Day, above, discusses the modern-day record deal with me, and talks about how artists should sensibly approach getting one—or not.
On October 17th, Wendy and attorney Dan Booth will be guests at GrindXDesign, the “teleclass”—that’s education and instruction by phone—I’m doing for eight Wednesdays, starting August 29th. (Our first guests: Gang Starr’s D.J. Premier and Jay-Z engineer Young Guru, discussing production and songwriting.)
I’m absolutely certain I could not have asked two better guests to lead the first module in our GrindXDesign eight-week tele-course.
The conversation takes place this coming Wednesday, August 15, 8 pm ET. It’s called, “How To Get A Record Deal,” and it’s led by Wendy Day, right, and Dan Booth, below.
Why do I think they’re the best choice? Have you ever looked at a modern recording contract?
Wendy has, and so has Dan, both many times. Apparently, what they’ve seen has so terrified them that they’ve decided to warn every human being who may, even accidentally, come across such a labyrinthine, all-encroaching, aggressively one-sided document.
Wendy does this through her activism, as the long-standing founder of the advocacy organization, Rap Coalition. Dan gets it in through his firm, Booth Sweet LLP. He describes himself as an attorney for “people in creative industries”—that probably means you—with a focus on copyright and trademark law.
Most of all, though, Dan and Wendy both have a passion for right that, in this cynical age, probably strikes evil people as mad corny, but that to me is admirable and desirable. Also, I dig Wendy’s direct, no-nonsense e-book, How To Get A Record Deal: The Knowledge to Succeed, right, so much that I bit the title for GrindXDesign, and malformed it for this post.
(Plus, Wendy was a guest this past Friday, August 10, at 2 pm ET, on my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION. If you missed the live show, here’s the link; go to the 32-minute mark if you don’t check out the whole thing. It’ll be in our archives for up to 90 days after the broadcast.)
How not to get a record deal? The best way not to get a record deal is to not take the GrindXDesign telecourse. And HURRY! The early bird price is an awesomely reasonable $77 for the whole eight weeks—less than 10 bucks a session—but it goes up to $97 on Sunday night! Don’t cry to any of us when the industry takes your money, B. When they do, it’s gonna be a lot more than a hundred bucks.
That’s Chuck D of Public Enemy, right, giving a terse description of his career as a global artist.
In other words, he has steadfastly carried the flag “in the name of hip-hop,” as he often notes, to many places, just to firmly, lovingly plant it. That’s the best reason for having him co-lead the Wednesday, September 19th GrindXDesign.com tutorial on working as an international artist.
(When I asked Chuck to speak and take questions on this issue, he said “Yes,” immediately. Immediately. He doesn’t say yes, immediately, to anything, certainly not to me. So, in part, that’s when I knew I was on to something.)
That he’s been so many places, though, is not my only reason to host him. The other one is that he often took me with him, and he didn’t have to do it. Ghana. Australia. Hawai’i. France. Brazil. The aforementioned Germany, and many more places. (That, above, is a picture I took of Chuck, one morning, in Egypt, in front of the pyramids.) These, and others, were all sites I never thought I’d see, but did, doing so on behalf of the culture, and P.E., courtesy of Mr. Chuck. Thank you, sir.
Getting someone else to help Chuck carry the ball for GrindXDesign wasn’t a struggle, though. (I say his, despite the fact that far too many U.S. hip-hop artists give side-eye to touring overseas. It’s the food, they often say.) That’s because I reached out to the inimitable Questlove, of the Roots, and bandleader at Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, right. (Before doing the TV show, his crew’s 200-shows-a-year churn was legendary, which is much of how they got so astounding as a live act.) In fact, when I DM’d him, Quest was, actually, on tour in Europe. Getting him booked required nimble mediation from his manager, Rich Nichols, to get it done, but it was.
Get on the horn and hear what these two giants have to say about this often overlooked aspect of being a modern musical artist. Purchase your ticket to the entire GrindXDesign series of 8 live, one-hour “modules,” presented one-per-week for eight weeks, by phone.
Tickets are $77 until midnight, tonight; $97 after that. (Save 20 bucks, spend it on more hip-hop.) Everything starts this Wednesday, August 15th, with Rap Coalition’s Wendy Day and Booth Sweet LLP’s Dan Booth. Subject: “How To Get A Record Deal.”
As you probably know from my writing, my broadcasting, and certainly from my long-standing relationship with Public Enemy, education and information has always been critical to me. I don’t think that education or information, themselves, liberate. However, I firmly believe that they are the basis of freedom.
That’s why I’m extremely excited to produce and host GrindXDesign, an eight-week tutorial that starts about a week from today, on Wednesday, August 15th. I trust that you will be a part of it.
I’ve been working with my team on this for a while. A large part of that time had to do with me just understanding the concept. Brilliantly executed by social media strategist Lena West, it consists of creating a technology format through which hip-hop industry leaders can connect with, and teach, groups of committed, driven individuals who need the information those luminaries share.
That is what I hope to create for artists, through knowledge. The business of music is an amazing, fearsome world. It has produced some of humanity’s most powerful art. But, for many, it has also functioned as a cesspool of exploitation, usually those who merely wanted to get on stage, as fast as possible, and sing, dance, or rap.
That has got to end. As my friend and mentor Chuck D has often noted, even the term music business is over 60% the word “business.” That is, it’s mostly business.
Hip-hop artists may suffer most from the lack of this information. If we’re going to save hip-hop, that, too, has to change. If hip-hop is going to be preserved as a cultural and social system—if such a thing is possible—people who are concerned about its survival are going to have to commit to performing strong acts.
That is the definition of leading by example. We need more of it in our culture, one built by many, many hands. I’ve put mine in, and, if God gives me life and strength, this is only the beginning.
I’ve officially opened registration at GrindXDesign.com. Grab your seat. Take no prisoners.
The majority of all human output is of average quality, or trash. A small amount of it is excellent. What we remember most, though, is what excited us, and moved us.
So, like René suggests, was hip-hop in the past—the Pre-Wax Era, the Pioneer Era, the Golden Era, the Gangsta Era, the Baller Era—better? Or is it that you just really remember the parts you liked? Or is it that you just don’t like what you’re hearing because you liked what you heard? Or do you like what’s coming out nowadays more?