A River of Nickels

“In business it’s about who wants you the most” 

– T.I. (Interview with Larry King for OraTV)

Record Dea;

In recent years, the phrase, “How did [insert rapper here] get a record deal when my flow and lyrics are so much better” has been said one too many times. The truth of the matter is that maybe you are better, but you are failing to make the necessary connections in order to enhance your career. Those who have generated organic, viral fans bases rather than spamming people on Twitter and Facebook have seen the greatest reward. One of the beauties of seeing your music reach maximum attention gives you the ability to understand your fan base and value your worth as a musician. 1 million followers do not translate into $1 million dollars.

“We’re a team, 360 degrees, we will reach your goals!

We’ll get a third of the merch that you sell out on the road

Along with a third of the money you make when you’re out doing your shows

Manager gets 20, booking agent gets 10

So shit, after taxes you and Ryan have 7% to split”

– Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (“Jimmy Iovine”)

Record deals come in two forms these days: 360 deals or joint venture label deals. Recently, we have see Drake form his own label through Warner Bros. Records, in 2011, A$AP Rocky’s deal with Sony/RCA Records/Polo Grounds gave him $3 million and the ability to form his own label A$AP Worldwide, and most recently Trinidad Jame$’ $2 million and Chief Keef’s $6 million deals, respectively.

Bottom line is that you get what you negotiate and despite the hate Chief Keef frequently receives, he got exactly what he wanted. In a recent article by DNAInfo.com Chicago, Keef’s lucrative deal was broken down in ways most people outside the industry rarely see.

chiefkeeffinallyrich

Below, I have simplified and broken down the deal so that aspiring artists/record label owners know what to look for and negotiate when the time comes.

  • Number of albums: 3
  • Must sell 250,000 copies of debut “Finally Rich” by Dec. 31, 2013 in order for Interscope to continue to release Keef’s music

         Note: “Finally Rich” has sold 192,137 copies as of August 1, 2013

  • Advance: Upfront money that is paid directly to a recording artist: $440,000
  • Album Budget: Money used to pay for studio time, producers, and other expenses during the creating of album: $300,000
  • Creation of imprint “Glory Boyz Entertainment (GBE)”
    • Separate 3-year deal
    • GBE Advance: $440,000; additional $180,000 + 40% ownership internship for Chief Keef & manager; additional $10,000 + 10% ownership interest to GBE rapper Fredo Santana
    • GBE Overhead Expenses: Expenses of operating a business: $200,000
    • If Interscope suffers $4.5 million in loses, contract is terminated

“You ask for slack and wanna get cut loose from the label

Not able ’cause you signed at the table

For a pretty cash advance, now they got a song and dance

That you didn’t recoup, more soup wit’ ya meal?

‘Cause this is the real when you get a record deal”

–       A Tribe Called Quest (“Show Business”)

Although Chief Keef may have had the luck of the draw, others have to earn their multi-million dollar deals by way of seniority and longevity. After the December 2012 release of his album, Trouble Man: Heavy Is The Head, Atlanta rapper T.I. became a free agent. After being signed to Atlantic Records for almost 11 years, rumor has it that the self-proclaimed “King of the South” is negotiating a highly structured deal that could earn him an estimated $75 million. If Jay-Z, Dr. Dre, Sony, or Universal, all whom T.I. has met with, want him, they’re going to have to make some big promises.

TI-Dre

T.I. with Dr. Dre

  • 3 albums
  • 10-20% of publishing, touring, merchandise, film and TV rights
  • Endorsement deals with major corporations
  • Exclusive signing of all Grand Hustle artists

Ultimately, it’s your decision; you can be swimming in millions or you can be swimming in pennies and nickels. It’s simple; but you must recognize the difference of perception and reality first. You might be the best lyricist in the world, but can you make a hit record? You might have over 1,000,000 YouTube views, but do you have a local/regional foundation? Have you made your mark and created an impact? You also must take into consideration how times have changed. When T.I. went to L.A. Reid’s office at Arista Records in 2001, following his debut album, I’m Serious, and asked for a $2 million budget for his second album, he was dropped from the label immediately. Today, Trinidad Jame$ has one major song under his belt and limited rap experience, but earned himself his $2 million deal from Def Jam.

Remember, the same about of time you spend hating on an artist for the accomplishment, you could be spending advancing yourself; Talib Kweli taught me that!

T.I. with L.A. Reid

T.I. with L.A. Reid

Trinidad James

Trinidad Jame$

Missed my interview with T.I.? Check it out here!

Update: May 10, 2013 – T.I. Talks ‘$200 Million’ Major Label Deal & ‘G.D.O.D.’ Mixtape (via Billboard)

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Trouble Man: An Interview With T.I.

Below, is the transcribed version of my interview with T.I., which I conducted on my radio show on 92 WICB.

20121024-ti-picture-x600-1351091224 I feel like I know you; Not only have I grown up listening to your music, but you’re show on VH1 ‘T.I. & Tiny: The Family Hustle’ is now on it’s 15th episode of the 2nd season. How has the show benefited your family?

Well, I think it has allowed us to do something together. You know, some families it’s football, other families may own a restaurant, but this is our thing and it allows us to have stuff to do. We all own and appreciate it, because everyone contributes.

Who has more fans, you or your son Major? MajorMajor might have me.

All your kids are characters; on the next episode King starts his own pajama line.

Right on, he thinks he’s Hugh Hefner.

On December 18th, you’re releasing your eighth album Trouble Man: Heavy Is The Head; what’s the concept of the album and what can fans expect from it?

Interviewed T.I.

Well, Trouble Man is just me accepting the fact that trouble has been a huge part of my life, for a majority of the time I have been on this Earth and accepting that fact, and the music that I’m making now is inspired by that. This is a project I’m extremely proud of; I put a lot of myself into it. It’s upper echelon and something I think the fans will enjoy on December 18th.

The way you’ve described some of the records on the album such as “Can You Learn” featuring R. Kelly, “Guns & Roses” featuring Pink, and “Sorry” featuring Andre 3000, it seems like this album was both a learning and growing experience for you, given the trials and tribulations you’ve experienced. With that being said, what lessons have you learned through the recording process?

t.i.sorry_

I won’t say that the recording process was the learning experience; I would say the circumstances I endured were the learning experiences. I think the album is a platform for me to project and apply the things I’ve learned throughout the years. One of the things I’ve learned is that the things we worry about on a daily basis aren’t really that serious. When you are taken away from everything you love [friends, family], it just seems like the daily stuff is taken for granted.

In a recent interview, you mentioned that you’re expectation for Trouble Man is to make this album as significant to the culture and the time period right now. How you do view the current state of the hip-hop culture and how will your album relate to it? 

I think it’s going to be separate and apart from it [the culture]; it’s going to stand-alone. There isn’t much out there to compare it to; it’s a cohesive body of work. The Kendrick Lamar album, I think it can live up to that standard. It’s not just a collection of songs thrown together; it’s a cohesive body of work that I think can and should be judged on a different standard.

Maybe the closest thing to being current are the guest features your have – Meek Mill & A$AP Rocky, both who are fairly new to the game. Of course, Meek Mill being one of your mentees, and A$AP, who has really dominated over the last year and a half or so.   

I have a lot of respect for the cats out there who are putting in work. Don’t get me wrong, I salute the A$AP Rocky’s, Meek Mill’s, and Kendrick Lamar’s of the world, or even the Big K.R.I.T.’s., you know what I’m saying?

Following Trouble Man: Heavy Is The Head, you plan on releasing its sequel, Trouble Man: He Who Wears The Crown; besides the fact that you recorded over 120 songs for this project and need to release them, is the purpose of the subtitle to reiterate to the fans that after all these years and a few ups and downs, you still remain the King of The South?

Well, I mean I think that I remain a king, period; a jurisdiction. I’m a ruler of whatever ground I’m standing on. It’s not necessarily me waving a flag or making a statement that hasn’t already been made before. I think that it’s really just saying that I accept the responsibility. All the things I have, and the opportunities I have been given, it’s up to me to hold myself to a higher standard of performance and speak for those who can’t speak for themselves.

Besides your work on Trouble Man, and its sequel, what’s going with the Hustle Gang? Can we expect a compilation album in the near future?

Hustle Gang - T.I., B.o.B., Trae Tha Truth, Iggy Azalea & Chip

Hustle Gang – T.I., B.o.B., Trae Tha Truth, Iggy Azalea & Chip

Yeah, absolutely. I think that once we get into the top of the year, it’s going to be time to start putting that project together.

Any final comments? 

@TIP on Twitter, @TroubleMan31 on Instagram, GrandHustleGang.com for all your t-shirts and sweatshirts, and make sure you get the album on the 18th; it will be in stores.

I hope you all enjoy the interview. T.I. – T.I.’s eight studio album, Trouble Man: Heavy Is The Head will be available in stores and online on December 18th. To listen to the audio version of the interview, click here