Kid Cudi, signed to G.O.O.D. Music/Universal Republic, posted the missive above to Twitter, lambasting his label for his lack of success at radio and in sales. This will prove counter productive. You can’t force someone’s hand by shaming them, especially if that party is a business partner but you don’t contribute to their bottom line. Signing to a major corporation means you will not be the priority, unless you earn that right by bringing in so much money that you can’t be denied. Did Rocafella break Kanye? No, Kanye could barely get signed and supported by Rocafella. Kanye broke Kanye, with amazing music and an original approach.
In Eskay’s words:
Whenever I want to a make a case against the status quo in the industry, I point to Tech N9ne and the empire he has built out there in Kansas City. I know Tech’s story isn’t typical, but I have to believe that if he can do it, so can a guy like KiD CuDi, an artist with much broader commercial appeal and the G.O.O.D. Music creative juggernaut in his corner. [...] If and you opt to sign a slave deal with a major label, the one thing you can’t do is run to social media and start complaining when shit doesn’t go your way.
I asked Steven Horowitz, writer for Billboard/Vibe, for his point of view on this situation and he shared the following:
Just like with Tech N9ne, rappers like Macklemore continue to prove that indie is the new major. You don’t need a thousand hands in the pot, or a million dollars, to gain momentum – just smart business acumen, a tight, dedicated crew and, most importantly, quality product. It’s why Macklemore debuted at No. 2 with The Heist, or why Mac Miller’s Blue Slide Park became the first independently-distributed album to top the charts since 1995. You can make a choice to go with the majors and suffer the consequences (or benefits, in many cases), or you can try to parlay touring, social media presence and self-marketing into indie success.
I have no doubt that Kid Cudi works hard, and it’s not to be underestimated how tough it is to be a touring artist. It’s exhausting and can be de-motivating, especially if you end up still being broke at the end of the day. But publicly blaming others will not get you sympathy from anyone, especially if people perceive you as an artist who has “made it” and has a lot of money (even when that is not true).
I have a lot of respect for people that give being a creative their all, against all odds. But it’s painful to watch an artist lash out and blame others for his (perceived) lack of success. It’s even more painful to watch this same artist consistently self-sabotage. It’s painful to watch them jump into the audience and punch someone during the biggest opening slot they could possibly land, resulting in them getting kicked off the tour. Or thrashing the stage at an Australian festival because he got cut short. Or being arrested for a drunken, violent tantrum in a young woman’s apartment where they’ve yanked the door out of it’s hinges. Or complaining a year ago in the exact same way about their label treating their unrelated side project as an indie release. Or being arrested holding crack cocaine.
At the end of the day, it’s your own responsibility to do everything you can to be successful, while treating everyone around you like you want to be treated. Derek Sivers recently wrote a great article called “Everything Is My Fault”, and it’s worth a read in the context of this situation. It has even inspired my own Mistake Mondays series. We all make mistakes. We all have an ego. It’s not the mistakes that hold us back, but letting our ego get in the way of learning from them.
- On Applause (Or An Artist’s Motivation Pt. 3) (read
- Success Changes Nothing (read)
- Woody Allen On Motivation (read)
- An Artist’s Motivation Pt. 2 (read)
- Stay In Your Basement (Or How To Deal With Success) (read)
- The Reward Is In The Work (Or What You Can Learn From George Clooney) (read)
- It’s Not Always The Major Label’s Fault (Or Artist’s Motivation) (read)