Tag Archives: hip-hop

Where’s the Racial Equality in the Music Industry?

The majority of us listen to music that has its roots some way or another entrenched in African American culture. And whilst we see racial diversity within the ranks of performers, it seems the higher up the corporate ladder you head, the less likely you are to come across someone other than a white male.

This was highlighted to me by a post in Digital Music News showing this exact problem.

Top Executives at Pandora

Top Executives at Live Nation Entertainment

Top Executives at Spotify

Top Executives at Universal Music Group

Some further research revealed to me that whilst this is a problem which is largely ignored, it hasn’t gone undiscussed.

Dennis McDougal noted that almost every person holding a position of power within the recording industry is white. This is despite over a quarter sales coming from black artists.

This is further pointed out by Vick Bain who wrote an essay on this issue in the United Kingdom. She highlights that in May 2011 77% of artists in the UK top 40 charts where from non-white backgrounds, whilst 92% of the “behind the scenes workforce” are white (p.9).

Johnny Roberts notes that historically, even when what was known as “race music” became popular in the 60’s and  70’s, the styles “quickly came under the control of the white-led majors”. Black executives were then shuffled across to “in-house black music departments.”

Furthermore, Every Person is a Philosopher noted how whites have managed to break into black dominated genres such as hip-hip, blues and RnB.  But at the same time, blacks are basically non-existent in white dominated genres such as country, rock and electronica.

This last point is part the frustration felt by Q-Tip and Azealia Banks when they attacked Iggy Azalea over her silence on Ferguson. Whilst whites do have a history of breaking into black genres, there seems to be an ignorance over the origins of these genres – hip-hop originated in the civil rights movement, the blues’ history is firmly entrenched in slavery. And whilst Iggy Azalea reacted wrong, she is potentially bearing criticism which should be directly universally to the white musicians. After all, how many white musicians came out in support of Ferguson protesters?

Music has many inclusive elements. Most musicians just like playing with good players – they care little for age, race or background (although gender has been highlighted as a problem). So isn’t it time we see true equality is all areas of the music industry? Perhaps the solution to the business model problems the music industry is facing is within the mind of a non-white male.


One Release, 12 Formats: Have the Format Wars Began?

F O R M A T S release formats
Music producer, artist and creative director, Trevor Jackson, has announced that his next album, titled F O R M A T, will be released on 12 different formats; 12 inch, 10 inch and 7 inch vinyl, CD, mini CD, Cassette, USB, VHS, mini disk, DAT, 8-track and reel-to-reel.

Due for release on the 25th February 2015, each format will contain a separate track. It will be followed up with the collection being available on vinyl and digital soon after the initial release.

Jackson is quoted as saying in The Vinyl Factory that “Every copy of a physical recording is different, a real object that has its own little story – a one of a kind, personalised by the effort you put in to purchase it, each time you touch it, and the unique ritual that goes along with playing it.”

Clearly Jackson is attempting to connect with the physical aspect of music but interestingly makes little mention of the packaging; an element that vinyl lovers often tout as being one of its pros. Instead, the ritual of listening music seems to be on Jackson’s mind. In a world where listening to an endless catalogue of music is as simple as pushing a button a smart phone, ritual is something that has all but disappeared.

But, as is pointed out by Tonedeaf, listeners being able to experience this album in its intended ways seems an unlikely, with very few VHS, 8-track and reel-to-reel players remaining in existence, particularly in the homes of consumers.

But will this see more music being released on more formats. Whilst the return of vinyl is still discussed in the mainstream press, the hip-hop community is beginning to re-embrace the cassette – a format prevalent in hip-hops early days due to its portability, durability, and most importantly, the ease at which mixes could recorded.

As an artistic statement Jackson has made a pertinent point – each format has its place in music, either through history, ritual, convenience, or quality. And whilst it’s difficult to see the mainstream world going to this extreme, it potentially opens the gates for artists to further consider the format they want their music released on, and consequently listened to on.

What format would like to see the return of?