By now this signing is no longer news to anyone but I needed to take a few days to organize my thoughts before presenting them to you.
Honestly, I am disappointed by this signing. Drake could’ve done so much better than Young Money.
Think about it. Besides Lil Wayne and Drake, do you have any earthly idea who the other Young Money artists are? I’ll give you a second to think about that.
Clearly, Young Money Entertainment has a problem attracting attention to its non-Lil Wayne artists. Which sucks because some of them are pretty fucking talented.
Lil Wayne’s endorsements certainly helped Drake’s buzz but without that support Drake still has “Best I Ever Had” under his belt. He didn’t need a feature from Lil Wayne to make a hot track.
“Best I Ever Had” has proven itself to be quite the airplay monster. Even moreso than the Young Money single “Every Girl”, which is also doing quite well on the charts. The “Best I Ever Had” iTunes download numbers are pretty impressive, too.
Major Label Bidding War
Since Drake had more than one major label fighting to sign him, then why sign with Young Money Entertainment?
In the position Drake was in, you have a lot of leverage to choose exactly the kind of deal you want. You can wait it out to find the right label that fufills your needs as a performer. As an unsigned artist with a Billboard Top 10 hit, Drake technically could have signed with any record label in the world.
So what sealed Drake’s deal with Young Money?
Reportedly there was a $1 million signing bonus on the table as an incentive to reel in Drake.
That’s what you get when your buzz is hotter than the Arizona desert.
Drake and Young Money
I think what it came down to for Drake and Young Money is convenience. Before Drake signed with them he was already doing promo shoots with the label. That indicated to everyone that there was some interest on both sides but at that point I assumed that Drake was taking the smart route and playing Young Money for all its worth.
I think that Drake could have used Young Money’s influence in the hip hop community to build his fan base and establish a name for himself without actually signing to the label. Because let’s face it: when Lil Wayne publicly supports a rapper, that’s a big deal.
A bright future for young Drake
Looking on the bright side I’m sure that Drake will have a very productive future with Young Money Entertainment. Lil Wayne clearly has Drake’s back, even if Wayne does neglect all the rest of the Young Money crew.
Taking the history of Cash Money Records into account (which is the label that Young Money is a subsidiary of), I wouldn’t be surprised if 4 or 5 years down the line Drake ran into some money issues with his label and decided to part ways with them. Baby, the co-CEO of Cash Money, is a notorious hustler/money-grubber.
Regardless of what happens I expect Drake to shine because he has everything the music industry wants: star power, a decent singing voice, and the ability to write hit songs that connect with a large audience.
Lessons from Drake
Drake’s unique story illustrates some key points I’d like to touch on briefly:
His lead single “Best I Ever Had” became a Billboard Top 10 hit (peaking at #2 on the US Hot 100) WITHOUT MAJOR LABEL SUPPORT.
Read that again if you need to. “Best I Ever Had” is actually a track from Drake’s mixtape So Far Gone. His album Thank Me Later won’t be released until Valentine’s Day 2010.
So what does this mean for the music industry as a whole?
Mixtapes Replacing the CD
The major labels will stop investing so much money in debut albums and instead force their new artists to release mixtape after mixtape (for free) until fans show an interest in buying their music. This will start with hip hop (since its already been going on) and gradually move outward to R&B, pop, and maybe even rock.
For artists, the tough part will be proving fan interest to their labels but having a hit song on Billboard is definitely a great starting point.
Expect this trend– mixtape tracks getting airplay on commercial radio and charting on Billboard– to continue as labels cut costs in every way imaginable and as more artists say “screw the record labels” and go independent.
What do you think? Should Drake have signed with Young Money or not? Is Lil Wayne doing everything he can to promote his Young Money artists? Will Drake leave Young Money in a few years? Are mixtapes replacing the CD?
Share your thoughts in the comment section.
Article produced by Dexter Bryant, Jr. (d.BRYJ)
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