Steve Rifkind Explains Shunning 360 Deals & Urges Executives To Stop Being Lazy

Exclusive: Steve Rifkind runs-down his long going evolution of artist promotion and being one-half of All Def Digital with Russell Simmons.

The past few decades have been quite kind to legendary music executive Steve Rifkind. Since the early days of working with his father Jules Rifkind at Spring Records, Steve has always had a special ear for the best urban music had to offer. Growing-up during Hip Hop’s early ages, it made perfect sense for him to use firsthand knowledge in forming his own label. With Loud Records, Rifkind became one of the many key figures in changing the culture’s business and creative trajectory.

In a time where Hip Hop found itself locked out of traditional promotional lanes, Rifkind essentially created grassroots tactics that paved new marketing grounds through street teams. Staying authentic while reaching as many potential listeners as possible became the standard. For many labels pushing Hip Hop pre-social media, it was almost seen as a revolution. However, being the “father of street teams” wasn’t the only card in his deck. He had good, iconic talent to boot. Besides being the former home of Twista, Mobb Deep, Big Pun, Three 6 Mafia and others, the biggest success story for Loud came in the form of a gritty nine-member collective fascinated with Shaw Brothers flicks.

Unprecedented at the time, Rifkind provided The Wu-Tang Clan a deal, which allowed them to seek separate solo deals outside of initial group album obligations. Seen as a large gamble, it paid off in spades as most projects, both as a group and individually, went on to be cultural and critical landmarks in Hip Hop.

Though Loud eventually folded, Rifkind launched a new label through Universal Music Group dubbed SRC Records. Holding his own against everything he built during those memorable years at Loud, SRC saw Rifkind finding more crossover success through acts including Terror Squad, David Banner, Akon and Melanie Fiona before closing.

Reminding the industry of his relevance yet again, he’s teamed up with another iconic figure, Russell Simmons. The union brings the world All Def Digital, a platform for emerging artists in the Digital Age. In a year’s time, ADD hit some interesting strides, becoming a YouTube sponsored channel, partnering with Samsung for and a label deal through Universal Music Group. Though technology has changed the industry’s rules, Rifkind continues to prove he can still play the game and play it to win.

How All Def Digital Fuses YouTube, Streaming Radio & UMG



  • HUH

    Do not hate on Steve Rifkind. He's one of the few respected. If it wasn't for him, a lot of artists would have never gotten put on.

  • solofromtoronto

    mighty whitey

  • Anonymous

    Start working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life. This is what I do. ========================= ==========================

  • 1000W

    "Steve Rifkind: I read something this morning saying she was going to be on Love & Hip Hop. I dont know if its real or not, but Id like to talk to her to see if shes OK. I didnt speak to her while she was away. I think shes so talented and if she stays on the right path, the world is hers." laughed when I read that...i hope he's right that remy aint broke and has to resort to love & hip-hop

  • Shazam

    I like that Ali Kid a little. He is a Lupe Fiasco kid.Nothing new but he is decent. I would not count Steve out. I am sure he will make adjustments. The metric system he is using will not work. Kids can buy retweets and do too many things to beat that. It also puts kids from smaller markets at a disadvantage even though their music may be better. I went and listened to some of the stuff on Add52 . Horrible. Bland , same copycat music you hear locally. None of these Rich people want to work no more. Internet has destroyed music

  • Nadir

    Did this guy say exec's need to stop being lazy.Wow , he is the lazy one. Your allowing a system to pick who you sign over your belief in who is really great, your gut feeling and what you love. I bet the acts he signed he would never play their music in his car for his own enjoyment.That says it all. The best two shows I seen this year in Chicago.None of the artist have Twitter, STEVE GET YOUR LAZY AZZ OFF TWITTER AND THE INTERNET AND GO OUT HERE TO THE CITY AND IN THESE STREETS AND FIND THE NEXT 2PAC , JAY OR NAS. They are not all on Twitter like that.

    • best rappers arent on twitter

      also know an underground rapper from ny. his names Dude motherfucking reegis or something seen him at a show in ny he killed twitter no instagram...i dont think he gave a shit either

    • HUH

      You're talking about the guy that signed Big Pun without hearing his music. I don't think he needs to hear your advice on "gut feeling".

  • Samad

    Dr Dre never signed no viral stars. or none of that silly stuff, Chief keef, Trinidad James and the viral stars flop except Justin Beiber and that is the kiddie market, white kiddie market.I think they will finally learn eventually and a new era will come in like when Deangelo, Erykah Badu and so many greats came in.Music goes in cycles. I think Tde showed the REAL BLUEPRINT. Real talent and break them organically, Grass Roots.People will view anything for free , lol a retweet is free.My hard earned money is not

  • james

    lol@ Mario funny sad and true. I seen the Youtube girl she does have a fat ass though lol but her singing is definitely nothing I would purchase. He did have the girl from Canada.Melanie Fiona.I liked her. They should of done a real talent search .open to everyone. Judged by real artist and Top exec's

  • Mario Toney

    I lost respect for Russell Simmons and Steve Rifkind. They went from Wu Tangs, Mobb Deeps, LL Cool J, Liks, Pun , .....To nikeya heaton....Trash ...dollhouse half decent singers but Trash songs....I mean they are pretty girls but there is soooo much more talent out here.Social media is a popularity contest its not a true assessment of rather someone will buy your record. Adele and Susan boyle proved that.Adele dont even do Social media and has a diamond record.Great music will not be denied over the long haul.The whole industry is Mcdonalds fast food. now. There are quite a few Adele's...problem is the real artist are not Twitter crazy. umm they are somewhere mastering their craft.Some artist still play piano Guitar read and write music.And are not corny watered down bs.Steve Rifkind, used to be the people to look up to...seems they lost their soul. like the rest. not one act that they have now is super talented. There are some dope acts out here Bishop Nehru, Brielle Marie, Tagh and Nem From the Sharklife crew(Chicago and Long beach nickas), too many to name...Nikea heaton thats somne cats is thirsty on her channel the little white girl redoing rap songs....we will see if people buy that bs. over the long haul.

    • white women are the right women.

      Nigga, shut your dumb ass up. Nikea Heaton is the motherfucking truth. The bitch can sing and she's creative. I betchu if she come out with a mixtape covering a whole bunch of rap songs, it'll get rave reviews.

  • Denali

    Hiphopdx, That was a great, informative interview. PLEASE, keep these type of interviews coming! Fill up the whole website with this type of info!

  • Anonymous

    fuck labels, put music out for free on da internet and get money from concerts and merch