13 September 2017
written by @TOP5RAPWEBSITE
Here at #TOP5RAPWEBSITE, we like to buck whatever trends are being pushed by hypebeasts and stick to music; we covet authenticity and originality.
Twitter has a knack for groupthink – the website’s Retweet and Like Tweet features are a gold-mine for confirmation bias. The loudest opinions receive thousands upon thousands of retweets and likes, turning what would otherwise be baseless, biased opinions into viral sensations due to the sheer amount of likes, RTs, and impressions obtained. Non-groupthinkers might find it difficult to go against the grain and break the established viral group twitter mindset that has been established. Case in point: stopping the e-jumping of Russ.
WHO IS RUSS?
Russ is a singer, producer, engineer trio-combination who popped off recently in 2015-2016 after six-plus years of releasing music projects. Russ is 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 of his songs, a pure musician of sorts. Russ is also infamously known for his relentless tongue-lashing of un-innovative industry norms and people who did not give his music a chance on his come-up.
THE E-JUMPING OF RUSS
People like Nadeska Alexis of Complex’s Everyday Struggle program have recently taken offense to Russ’ brash tone. When Russ appeared on Complex’s Friday, September 8th episode of Everyday Struggle, tempers flared and tension filled the room from the very beginning. The tension is allegedly linked to Russ previously being dismissed by Complex employees and Nadeska particularly, before later being invited onto the show after seeing great success in music.
This 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 make it appear as if he was asking for lean and other drugs, to outright attacks against his confidence and braggadocio. I think that these Tweets’ influence were enhanced thanks to TweetDeck users, these are Twitter profiles who 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 we should be taking from Russ’ ascension into stardom.
What HIP-HOP should learn from Russ
I’m 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 he gets 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 should 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 and for 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 rappers. It took Russ approximately 10 years to finally kicked down the door and achieve fame and chart success. But that 10 year process of grinding, frustration, and small victories is important, because through that process, he 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 would not have produced a core fanbase that ride-or-dies for him – this is the same fanbase that, today, allows Russ to make hundreds of thousands off TOURING.
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 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. The grassroots fanbase he created over those years today also gives him the ability to tour and produce consistent streaming numbers for every song he creates. 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 they’d 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
- 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