Promoting his new venture with Steve Rifkind in partnership with Universal Music Group and Samsung, Russell Simmons tracked the evolution of the music industry and Hip Hop in a newly released interview by Grammy U and All Def Digital.
Speaking about the growing impact of the music industry, Simmons explained that commercial opportunities for artists have moved away from royalty-based formulas.
“Artists are finding all kind of ways to use their brand to earn money,” he said. “Being a music star is a lot more than selling records, if not at all. If selling records was what the music business is about they would all move onto something else. They’re not counting their royalties as their income, they’re counting all of the things that they influence, all the multibillion dollar business that their branding and building and affecting. Music is still consumed today more than yesterday, still growing in terms of the way people consume it. More music all the time, it just keeps growing in terms of its influence in society and also its influence in various different businesses. So now that we can’t make royalties off of records we gotta go make them pay, that’s what the music business has to learn to do.”
Adding on, Simmons detailed his aspirations for All Def Digital as a sort of match-making service.
“The game hasn’t changed from a content standpoint,” he said. “We keep creating content. Our ability to create more content at a cheaper price is obviously a very great advantage for us. People have ADD, I mean literally they have ADD, I’m wearing the hat. All Def Digital, to me, is the place that promotes freedom for artists. New directors, new writers, new artists, music artists, poets. It’s a place where people can express themselves in ways that the gatekeepers wouldn’t allow in the past. We curate it so that we give the best of what’s out there ‘cause it’s the Wild West, there’s just so much on the Internet. Someone has to curate. Someone has to produce. Someone has to mix the creative genius that’s on the Internet with more traditional resources and other talent. We gotta a lot of young, smart people. I’m just watching young, talented people who understand new media and that wouldn’t be given a chance at some big stupid company are here running this company and they’re gonna make a big success out of it while the old people watch.”
Late in the interview the Def Jam co founder was asked about how success is measured.
“Success, how’s it measured?” he asked. “That’s a silly question. You guys are business people. Success to me is happiness. Having a still seat. Being comfortable in your seat is success. The more you can do that the more successful you are. Happiness. You’re only here for a short time, so I measure success by the level of happiness one has. Money can’t make you happy. But happy can make you money.”