Simmons, who co-founded Def Jam Records, and Rifkind, who founded and was chairman of Loud Records, and is founder, current chairman, and CEO of SRC records, will put together their considerable knowledge and experience to identify, sign, and develop talent via YouTube.
“How [Russell] built Def Jam and how I built Loud was through the streets and through grass-roots marketing,” said Rifkind according to LATimes.com. “Cut to 20 years later, we’re applying this same formula, this same blueprint, using YouTube as our street team, using YouTube as our A&R source, using YouTube as our branding machine.”
“I wake up at 4:30 or 5 in the morning, ready to work,” added Rifkind. “I haven’t been this excited [in years].”
Universal Chairman and Chief Executive Lucian Grainge also spoke on the deal, explaining that All Def Music is part of Universal’s strategy to join experienced music industry minds together with the the latest in media and technology.
“It is truly a thrill to be able to welcome Russell back to our family. As one of the founders of Def Jam with Rick Rubin (whose American Recordings is a part of Republic Records), Russell and Rick created an iconic brand that forms part of the foundation of [Universal Music Group] and a label that has had a profound impact on popular culture,” wrote Grainge in an email to Universal employees.
“I can’t say enough about how highly we think of Russell both professionally — his vision and entrepreneurial talents are legendary — and personally. He is a rare treasure,” read the email. “And with Brian’s track record on the content side and Steve’s on the business side, they make a formidable team.”
Def Jam was home to a slew of seminal Hip Hop acts, including Run-DMC, Public Enemy, Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, and others. Simmons sold his share of the record company for $100 million to Universal Music Group in 1998. His Russell Simmons Music Group put out Run DMC’s Rev. Run’s solo debut, Distortion, in 2005. Meanwhile, Loud was home to various Wu-Tang Clan, Mobb Deep, Alkaholiks, and other releases.
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