Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The New Deal:

The Golden Girl & The Jigga Man

The Madonna and Jay-Z/Live Nation Deals is Further evidence of a 'Major' Decline

by KC Shoen, CEO

Madonna, to me, does not embody any real substance musically. She is mainstream pop to the fullest, with a slight leniency to the techno/dance and gay music scene. If depth is something you're searching for, don't count on anything resembling ulterior meaning beyond an embellished hyperbole of provocative language and visuals married with simple hooks.

However, Maddy kicks ass in the Boardroom.

Madonna recently signed an insanely lucrative deal with Live Nation for an estimated total of $120 million for 10 Years, relieving herself of being further contracted with Warner Brothers, stating in a press release, "The paradigm in the music business has shifted and as an artist and a business woman, I have to move with that shift. For the first time in my career, the way that my music can reach my fans is unlimited. I've never wanted to think in a limited way and with this new partnership, the possibilities are endless."

Jay-Z has been the embodiment of mainstream hip-hop in full contact with its underground appeal. Unlike Madonna, he has never completely sold out, but is the only MC in Hip Hop history to be in possession of 5 straight platinum albums in a row.

So Sean did one better than Maddy. The Bigga Jigga Man is on the heels of consummating a $150 million deal with Live (April 2008), complete with stock options, co-investments and profit sharing among his multi conglomerate enterprises, including one called "Roc Nation" which will split revenues with the former Clear Channel spin-off. Jay watched The Material Elder get hers, and after the soft retail performance of "American Gangster" he decided it was time for a payday, with $25 million upfront to boot, and to bolt from Def Jam..Full speed. His response when asked about the deal?

“I’ve turned into the Rolling Stones of hip-hop"

Right On.

Live Nation first manifested itself in 2004, as it sited its decision to split with Clear Channel to the SEC in 2005 as to relieve itself of any regularity pitfalls that it would face being part of that company. Having unsuccessfully attempted to commandeer YouTube in relinquishing some live performances it deemed they had rights over earlier in 2007, Live Nation finally won a serious battle of identity branding by putting forth a sweetheart deal for Madonna, and now Jay Z. Yes, they are dirty, filthy money-hungry bastards, and given their rather shoddy history since their inception, it has to be acknowledged…

But, goddammit, I love them!

This groundbreaking acquisition of a highly merchandised, highly visible pop-chart icon of sustained commercial success via high-gloss mediocrity signals the end of the 'majors' in the most significant way. Warner never had a chance to outbid, given the diverse merchandising nature the Live Nation deal supports, and able to deliver on. All they could do is offer an olive branch in a "condolence" letter of sorts , while head execs privately ponder whether suicide is a viable option. Conversely, The Jay-Z deal furthers the demise of a legendary Hip Hop label who has fallen out of touch with the present. Def Jam, who was at the forefront of the burgeoning genre, now sits at the back of the bus, hoping the Artists they prayed upon in the past don't jettison them into nonexistence. First LL, then Jay...

Now..close to nothing but a long quiet walk into that last good night.

Warner's sun is also setting..and soon the boneyard of music industry's past will absorb them.

This is indicative of several things: If you don't move with tide, you eventually drown, and the monolithic approach that has so dominantly retained control in the past seventy years no longer has any semblance of viability in the negotiation process when it comes to the likes of Madonna and Jay Z.

And the only good news for Def Jam is that it's one less 'project' that Kimora Lee Simmons can't screw up....

...as it is already screwed.

This also means that lesser-known acts could get a boost through LiveNation and their complete dominant presence on the internet and live venues. Music will be fresh and new again, and the independent scene which has been bubbling under the surface for the last decade will finally see some daylight.

And the Big 4 will be no more.

Consider this this an advanced eulogy. And a big hurrah!

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