Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Jay Z and Korn- a tale of two record deals

Lesson One: Korn and EMI

In what the L.A. Times frames as the wave of the future or a bonehead move, EMI will pay $15 million to Korn to get a piece of their non-album sales profits- i.e. concerts, merchandise. As the article notes, since album sales are tanking, labels have to be more creative about how they'll stay afloat. Artists make most of their money from shows and mersh so unless they get a nice fat payoff like the Korn clan, this might not work in their favor. For the now, the rest of the biz seems to be taking a wait-and-see tact about this. They're not likely to offer other multi-million dollar deals if Korn doesn't rake in show/mersh bucks as the label hopes. In other words, it's a pretty dicey proposition, for both sides and it's been guinea-pigged for now with some bet-hedging. Korn takes a nice paycheck but if EMI manages to help push their concert and T-shirt sales well enough, will the band regret their deal?

Lesson Two: Jay Z and Def Jam Left

Interestingly enough, Jay Z seems to taking the opposite tact and going truly old school. He's talking about making a small label that doesn't demand immediate six-figure Soundscan returns, instead giving smaller acts time to mature and be nurtured. I believe this was once called "A&R" but that's became kind of a dying breed as of late. Let's hope that he follows through with this as it's definitely long overdue. If he does succeed here, other labels will take note. If that happens, it may do more to save the music biz than the Korn-type contracts or I-Pod's. Leave it to an artist to think of something that should be so obvious and simple to the rest of the biz.


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