Hey! Today’s update covers Meek Mill’s new JV with Roc Nation. After the update, you’ll see the rundown, which covers Drake’s new partnership with Sirius XM Pandora, DaBaby’s rise, Lizzo’s publishing deal, and Jay Z’s decision to pull out of Woodstock 50 (which we all saw coming, right?).
Meek Mill has low key had the best week of his life. His 2008 conviction was overturned, and he signed a joint venture with Roc Nation to launch Dream Chasers. Here’s a quote from Meek:
“Of course I had offers to do a lot of business with other people, but the relationship we’ve built from (Roc Nation) believing in me through my whole career, through my ups and downs and the morals they showed to me and my team when it wasn’t in their best interest to have showed it — I feel comfortable going through this right here at home. We’re ready to work. We’re just starting the beginning of a new chapter, a new page.”
The joint venture has been positioned as a “new chapter,” but it’s more of a revival. In 2012, Meek founded Dream Chasers as an imprint under Rick Ross’ Maybach Music Group. Before Meek ran in his current circles, he was Rozay’s lieutenant at “The Untouchable Maybach Music Empire.” Rap’s history books will likely forget MMG’s run, the Rick Ross grunts, and the ‘m-m-m-m-Maybach Music’ ad-libs, but there’s no denying the force that Ross had back in 2011 and 2012.
The original Dream Chasers label didn’t break any artists. It’s easy to place blame on Meek’s legal issues and his untimely beef with Drake. But the real answer lies with Rick Ross. His laissez-faire leadership style didn’t help Meek meet his full potential and evade his personal struggles. When Meek and Wale—two MMG artists—had beef with one another, Ross stayed out of it. The Philadelphia rapper could have benefitted from stronger mentorship in those formative years. Dream Chasers was treated as an afterthought.
With Jay Z’s mentorship–along with Michael Rubin and Robert Kraft– Meek will likely get more proactive guidance. Here’s a quote from Jay at this week’s Roc Nation press conference:
“Everything that he’s done leading up to this point, it showed that he can carry that weight for the next generation of people. Everybody can sign some artists, make some money and brag about how hot they are for … (but) for us, we look at the big picture. For us, it’s way beyond signing hot artists and having a hot record.”
This telling for a few reasons. As I’ve written about before, Roc Nation’s signed artists are further along in their careers than most record labels. It makes strategic sense for Dream Chasers to focus on younger artists instead. That way, Roc Nation can focus on its core competency (established acts) and still have a vested interest in rising artists. It’s no different than Disney Studios managing both Fox Searchlight for art-house films and 20th Century Fox for its blockbusters.
I am interested to see how Dream Chaser will structure deals for its artists. Meek’s past tweet would imply that this label will favorable to artists:
All records labels should start letting artist have ownership or you will be viewed as a slave master! Make it even for both sides the ones putting money up and the creator!!! Is even too much?
— Meek Mill (@MeekMill) February 20, 2019
Let’s assume that Meek’s label lets artists maintain ownership of their masters, sound recordings, and publishing. Will he take a higher percentage of revenue in return? Will an even split be realistic with the services that Dream Chasers plan to offer artists?
As a standalone record label, I doubt it. Dream Chasers could follow EMPIRE’s business model and do distribution deals and one-off record label deals as it sees fit. Dream Chasers will have a bit more financial leeway since it’s a JV and not a standalone entity, but it still needs to recoup investments in the artists it signs. I predict that the label will also help artists with management services too to extend their brands to other forms of entertainment.
Jay Z pulls out of Woodstock as the festival moves to…Maryland?! (Billboard)
In the least surprising news ever —which I predicted two months ago— Hov has pulled out of Woodstock 50. I expect Chance the Rapper to pull out as well.
The festival has been moved to Maryland. With less than a month’s notice, it’s doubtful that the organizers can earn nearly enough money on ticket sales and sponsors to recoup their investments. But some money is better than no money, right? I give the organizers *some* credit in finding an alternate solution and sticking to their word. But still. What a shitshow…
Speaking of Woodstock shitshows, Luminary and The Ringer have released a limited series podcast called “Break Stuff” which dissects the disaster that was Woodstock ’99. The first episode is free. Even if you don’t subscribe to Luminary, it’s worth checking out.
Everything You Need to Know About DaBaby (Complex)
A short but helpful breakdown on one of hip-hop’s rising stars. He dropped heat this week on his XXL Cypher. But he’s also made headlines for his numerous fights and altercations. In a Breakfast Club interview, DaBaby also revealed that he was supposed to be signed to Roc Nation, but the deal fell through. Not surprised–that would have been an odd pairing anyways. DaBaby is now signed to Interscope, and seems happy there.
But you know where DaBaby would be PERFECT for? Dream Chasers! DaBaby and Meek have similar stories. Both used hip-hop as a way to escape the street life. Both have their goofy antics. If DaBaby truly wants to be a “young CEO, Suge,” it might be good to stay close to someone like Meek who’s living that journey he wants to fulfill.
Lizzo signs a global publishing deal with Warner Chappell (Variety)
Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts” and “Juice” are the type of songs that have the longstanding potential to get heavily featured in commercials, sitcoms, movies, and other forms of media. Her appeal is especially strong with the LGBT community. This deal will help her monetize the commercial use of those songs and more. The deal terms weren’t disclosed, but assuming that terms are favorable, this is a smart move.
Drake and SiriusXM Pandora Announce Creative Partnership (PR Newswire)
Ever since SiriusXM acquired Pandora, the merged company has been on a tear to secure partnerships. This is its biggest move yet. This partnership with Drake includes a ‘dedicated station, curated music, and collaborations with creative talent.’ It could take the form of Drake’s ‘OVO Sound Radio,’ the station Drake initially launched on Apple Music back in 2015. Pandora still has a lot of ground to catch up behind the other digital streaming providers, but this deal is a unique value-add that can give it a relative boost.
It also echoes something I’ve written before on exclusivity. The output of this Drake-Pandora deal is technically a form of exclusive content. It won’t be available of Spotify, YouTube, or elsewhere. Even though record labels halted the practice of album exclusives, the concept of adding artist-oriented exclusive content is here to stay.