13 September 2017
Table of contents
WHO IS RUSS?
Russ Diemon is an artist, producer, engineer who popped-off circa 2015-16 after six-plus years of releasing music, emphasizing being a boss.. Russ is, perhaps, best known for his 2015 single “Losin Control“, off his 2016 There’s Really A Wolf album. Russ is also known for writing, producing, and engineering his own music, a rare hat-trick among his contemporaries. On There’s Really A Wolf, Russ is also credited with playing piano, ukelele, and guitar on several songs – a pure musician of sorts. Russ is also infamously known for his relentless tongue-lashing of un-innovative industry norms, and detractors who did not give his music a chance on his come-up.
THE E-JUMPING OF RUSS – “Fuck Russ”
Nadeska Alexis of Complex‘s Everyday Struggle program once took offense on-air to Russ’ brash tone. When Russ appeared on Complex’s Friday, September 8th episode of Everyday Struggle, tempers flared and tension filled the room. The tension is allegedly linked to Russ previously being dismissed by Complex employees and Nadeska particularly, before later being invited onto the show after realizing great success in music.
The conflict inspired Twitter’s finest (sarcasm) to launch a meme attack against Russ. The attacks against Russ ranged from photoshopped tweets where Twitter trolls edited Russ’s twitter profile to appear as if Russ was asking for lean and other drugs, to outright attacks against Russ’ confidence and braggadocio.
Personally, I think that these Tweets influence were enhanced thanks to a mob of Russ-hating TweetDeck users – TweetDecks are Twitter profiles who sometimes steal original tweets from others, repost them, and share them among a groupchat that they pay to be apart of. Members of this groupchat promise to retweet and like each others posts to maximize RTs, likes, and impressions. These LOUD voices have drowned out the real lessons that the Hip-Hop community should be noting from Russ’ ascension into stardom.
What HIP-HOP should learn from Russ
I am not mad at Russ’s braggadocio – this is a guy that released project after project, song after song relentlessly to get in the game.
He’s on top and has earned a right to talk his shit. All aspiring musicians of all genres should take note of Russ’s ascension to fame, because it is a roadmap that all artists can use as an alternative to signing traditional record deals that moguls like Jay-Z warn against.
“Russ’s 10 year struggle is hugely important and should be highlighted because it goes to show that persistence and commitment to your passion pays off.”
LESSON 1: RUSS’S GRIND
First, we should observe how Russ stayed persistent in his grind and never quit releasing music despite low view counts in the beginning, which discourages many aspiring creators. It took Russ approximately 10 years to finally kick down the door and achieve “fame”, via chart success. But, that 10 year process of grinding, frustration, and small victories is important, because, through that process, Russ learned and perfected the craft of songwriting, producing, mixing, and mastering to become the 3-way threat that he is today.
Without that struggle, he would not be the artist that he is today.
Without that struggle, his music might not have the same replay value, content, or quality.
Without those 10 years of struggle and grinding, Russ might not have produced a core fanbase that ride-or-dies for him – this is the same fanbase that, today, allows Russ to make a ton off TOURING alone.
Russ’s 10 year struggle is hugely important and should be highlighted because it goes to show that persistence and commitment to and for your passion pays off. Every artist is not meant to blow up off his/her first album or off her first song. For some of us, success requires that we sharpen our craft and build a grassroots fanbase over time. These are great investment that paid off for Russ in the long-run, because now he can create an album from scratch, by himself, without the help of a label. This lowers his overhead, thus increases his profit margins. The grassroots fanbase he created over those years also gives him the ability to tour and produce consistent streaming numbers for every song he creates today. This leads to my next point:
LESSON 2: RUSS’S BUSINESS DEALINGS
Perhaps the most important lesson from Russ’s come-up is the way in which he negotiated with labels.
Typically, major record labels give their signed artists an advance (loan) which is used to fund album/artist-related expenses. The artists would then pay back this loan via a percentage of their record sales. This business model has proven to be fatal for many artists’ careers because wonky contractual agreements meant that artists would receive little off of album sales and end up in debt despite selling thousands – sometimes even millions – of records.
Russ’s record business dealings are a bit different. Because Russ had a fanbase, song views and streams, and show experience prior to negotiating with a label, he came in with much more LEVERAGE than the average artist. Russ used this leverage to finesse a BUSINESS PARTNERSHIP with a major record label as opposed to SIGNING TO the label as an employee. The difference between being a business partner versus an employee is HUGE. I’ll let Russ explain:
“You can either get a royalty deal, which is what most new artists out the gate get, [where] you gotta wait around for your royalties, nine months, 10 months, crazy shit, you get no points on your shit,”
“I made sure that I built up leverage. I was selling out shows, I was doing all of this shit. With a profit split [deal], let’s do the math: I got 300 songs out and I did an album deal [with Columbia]. None of those 300 songs get touched, [it’s] only the shit on the album. And off of that album, you’re going to give me a bunch of money. After that money gets recouped, we then split everything 50/50. So, out of the 20 songs, it’s really like, you’re getting 10. So out of my 300 songs, you’re getting 10. So how much of me did I actually sign to you? ” – Russ
Russ’s come-up should be documented for all musicians to follow
RUSS 4 TAKEAWAYS
- STAY CONSISTENT IN RELEASING MUSIC DESPITE LOW VIEWS. PRACTICE AND RELEASE FINISHED PRODUCTS.
- BUILD A FANBASE AND SONG VIEWS – THIS MAY TAKE TIME AND THAT’S OKAY, REFER TO #1
- HAVE LEVERAGE (views, impressions, show experience, catalog) BEFORE SIGNING A RECORD DEAL
- PARTNER WITH THE RECORD LABEL INSTEAD OF SIGNING – BE YOUR OWN BOSS
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