Platinum rapper Chamillionaire recently spoke at the Social Currency CrunchUp at California’s Stanford University. In a technology setting, the Houston veteran expounded on his existing fan-base, created through online services like Shoutcast.com, prior to his signing with Universal Records. By way of his base, Cham said that he has an extremely artist-friendly contract dating back to 2004 or 2005. “I have a profits-sharing deal with [Universal Records]. Most artists don’t [have such a deal], most artists make pennies on the dollar. I don’t make that. I make what the label makes,” he revealed, before clarifying that he has 50/50 share in net profits.
The former partner of Paul Wall revealed that through his website Chamillionaire.com, and iTunes-topping performance of “Ridin’ Dirty,” he was able to secure this venture. “If I’m spending money, I want my money back just like [Universal does] if they’re spending money. At the end of the day, I make what they make. That’s not necessarily normal for an artist, but when I came into a major label, I had leverage.” The rapper was asked if given the change of climate since his 2005 success would make him do things differently in hindsight. “To say that I would go back [and not sign with a major label], I can’t say that…I have made millions and millions of dollars with Universal [and their] corporate structure,” said Chamillionaire, who remains a Universal Republic artist, alongside Lil Jon and Distant Relatives.
Chamillionaire did speak candidly about the contract structure at the labels. “Because the industry’s doing so bad right now, I think most contracts are designed for artists to fail,” he said. Based on his generous contract, the rapper who says that he’recouped his Sound of Revenge and Ultimate Victory releases, admitted he checks Universal’s accounting, “I audit them.”
Almost three years removed from a proper release, Chamillionaire also stated that he’s watched his label change for the worse. “Corporations are struggling. And for somebody like me, [Universal as a major label] just doesn’t seem that major anymore,” he said. “They should have been more aware of what’s happening. That’s why I come to tech conferences, so I can see what’s next. They spend their money [on sending people] to the clubs right now, and I think they should be here.” The rapper said he watched entire departments at labels dwindle to staffs of five, losing personnel that had a lot to do with his own success.
In the interview, Chamillionaire also speaks on his thoughts on rims, and which cell phones he uses, and why. Watch the whole interview on HipHopDX in the TechCrunchTV player here.