Wanna Get Paid Promoting Your Favorite Artist’s Music?

OG Kevin Liles analyzes today’s music biz blueprint and the future of recording. He also has a plan to make you a salesperson.

We have a unique opportunity right now to reinvent the music business. People are consuming more entertainment, but it’s not just tickets or album sales. You’re also selling consistent singles and merchandise; you’re also doing streams. We want what we want, how we want, and on demand. We have this great accessibility with technology, so what’s the perfect business model now?

If the labels continue to not innovate, they’ll become extinct. Where some people feel financial gain from record labels, others feel it’s controlling their art. Every artist who makes a record tries to get signed, whether it’s to a major or an indie. When it doesn’t work, they find a way to make their own mark. Take Nipsey Hussle, who went indie and made his $100 Crenshaw mixtape. After he put money behind it, he signed to Atlantic. When you’re independent, you’re the CEO of your brand. 50 Cent made a brand move by leaving Interscope. He has other businesses that can be his marketing engine.

We have to dare to be different, even down to fan clubs. People used to pay $24 a year to be part of fan clubs. Now, it’s a mobile fan club. Fans want to be part of who you are and help make you a great piece of art. In my dream world, I’d like to empower every fan to sell merch through their cellphones. Empower them to sell records through their cell phones, singles, tour tickets, virtual goods and really create the Amway for our business. Fans should be able to participate like any salesperson from any Fortune 500 company. It’s all fan engagement and empowerment. Why wouldn’t we reward them?

It’s one of the great things about the venture with 300 with my partners, Lyor Cohen and Todd Moscowitz. It allows us to take away the legacy and the burden of all the hot and high overheads, have a stealth group of 30 people and control the touch, taste and distribution. The cost of recording is cheaper, the mini forms of distribution, so who’s to say you can’t stream? Who’s to say you can’t circumvent retail partners and go straight to iTunes?

What Beyoncé did with her surprise album was circumvent the gatekeepers who might have said, “I don’t like that song,” or, “I don’t like that video because it’s too revealing.” I applaud her for having the guts to take that risk. But let’s be clear: the artist development on that project, even her calling it BEYONCÉ, she didn’t get tricky with it. No way, no how was it a business model. It was a great, innovative idea, but I would not try it at home. Everybody else has got to find creative ways to do things
As far as revenue, there are so many avenues that it’s exciting. Look at Samsung and Jay Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail. The business community thought it was genius. The consumer thought it was different. At the end of the day, it’s still a Jay Z album. Whenever you’re being Christopher Columbus and trying to intertwine technology on top of entertainment, you can run into issues.

The partnership was really around the advertising of all those big names being in the commercial during some of the biggest sporting events of that year. The great thing was that it was something different. —Kevin Liles