• Jermaine Dupri Talks DJing and Producing on ‘The Breakfast Club’

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    Legendary producer, rapper, and executive Jermaine Dupri recently paid a visit to The Breakfast Club show. Despite an awkward beginning, in which he was asked about his ex Janet Jackson, JD discussed some DJ and producer topics.

    The Atlanta native said it was a “huge honor” to be recognized for the Breaking Barriers Award at this year’s Global Spin Awards.

    “It brings me back to my first days of actually even wanting to be in the music business. Even before I wanted to be in the music business, I wanted to be a DJ.”

    JD went on to say that he was nervous about DJing live when he was younger.

    “[When] you make mixtapes, you can stop and press play and record and start over. But I used to be scared to go live … Because I DJ on turntables … If the needle skip, if the wind blow, if the power go out, it’s a lot of things that you gotta think about when you DJing and you’re the person that controls the crowd.”

    When asked about the recent allegations that record labels aren’t fairly compensating producers, JD replied that producers have brought it upon themselves.

    “There’s nothing cool about giving someone something that you created, and then they make money off of it, and you don’t. But these producers have to understand that [some of them] started this … .”

    JD cited the producer of O.T. Genasis‘ platinum hit “CoCo” as an example. The producer sold the beat online for only $200, according to JD.

    “They doing this themselves because they want the world to hear these beats so bad, that they putting themselves in these types of situations.”

    “You gotta get the business right from the beginning … Ultimately you don’t know what’s gonna happen with [your] beat.”

    Watch the full interview above.

    Related: Shawn Prez Discusses the Global Spin Awards on The Breakfast Club

  • The Stereotypes Share Their Story, Give Advice to Aspiring Producers

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    The Stereotypes
    The Stereotypes at work in Santa Monica, CA. (Photo source: Wikipedia)

    Jonathan Yip and Ray Romulus, members of the Grammy-nominated production and songwriting team The Stereotypes, recently told the group’s story on Randy Jackson’s podcast.

    Best known for working with Bruno Mars and Far East Movement, The Stereotypes are up for three Grammys this year. They’re nominated for Producer of the Year (Non-Classical), and Best R&B Song and Song of the Year for Bruno’s “That’s What I Like.”

    The Stereotypes’ most recent productions include Bruno’s “Finesse,” Pitbull‘s “Jungle” featurng E-40 and Abraham Mateo, and KYLE‘s “Sunshine” featuring Miguel.

    How they overcame their “down period” after achieving success with Far East Movement:

    Jonathan: “… we really were struggling and we needed to figure out how we’re gonna survive. And so, where we went, we went to [South] Korea. We stared doing K-Pop. … They accepted us because they knew our resume and they knew that we were the guys who worked with Far East Movement.”

    Working with different kinds of artists:

    Ray: “That’s why we created and worked on that Pitbull record, ‘Jungle,’ because we really wanna collab with a bunch of different artists. Putting Pitbull, E-40, Abraham Mateo, like you would never would think to put those guys [on the same track].”

    How they also want to work with new artists:

    Ray: “Everyone’s trying to shoot for like the biggest artists that are out right now, because honestly, every producer and writer is trying to shoot for that. And what better to do than to make your own [artist].”

    Advice to aspiring producers:

    Ray: “Going back to the Bruno sessions, it didn’t feel like we were making music. It didn’t feel like we were working. It just felt like friends together making something that we love. … So, surround yourself with people that are just like-minded and have the same goals and that want to go in the same direction. … And don’t only just be concentrated on the creative side. Be on top of your business …”

    Listen to the interview on iTunes or PodCastOne.

    Related: Watch Pitbull and The Stereotypes’ ‘Jungle’ Video Feat. E-40 and Abraham Mateo

  • DJ Franzen: Do DJs Still Break Records?

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    DJ Franzen
    DJ Franzen at Drai’s Nightclub in Las Vegas. (Source: Instagram)

    DJ Franzen is the definition of an OG. A Bay Area native, Fran helped break The Notorious B.I.G. and JAY Z on the radio and in the clubs on the West Coast in the ’90s. He was also the first DJ to play Luniz‘s timeless anthem, “I Got 5 on It.”

    In 2001, Fran moved to Las Vegas where he took his career to a new level. After holding it down in Sin City for over 15 years, Fran remains a staple in the scene. He’s currently a resident at Drai’s Nightclub and a host on Hot 97.5.

    Fran recently sat down with a new podcast called Reflections of a DJ (R.O.A.D.) to tell his story. The show is hosted by Vegas DJs Crooked, D-Miles, Neva, and Jaime Da Great.

    Among other topics, Fran discussed the biggest records he’s helped break and how the game has changed.

    Watch the clip and listen to the full interview below. New episodes go up on Wednesdays on iTunes and SoundCloud.

    Related: A-Trak Tells His Story in Comprehensive Interview

  • Facebook Signs Licensing Deal With Sony/ATV

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    Facebook has signed a multi-territory, multi-year licensing agreement with Sony/ATV, the world’s largest music publisher. The news comes just weeks after Facebook signed a deal with Universal Music Group, the world’s largest music company.

    Under the agreement, users will be able to upload and share videos on Facebook, Instagram, and VR platform Oculus that contain compositions in Sony/ATV’s catalog. Like the UMG deal, it’s presumed that DJs and producers will be able to upload and share videos that contain Sony/ATV material, such as mixes, remixes, and routines.

    Sony/ATV’s catalog has more than three million songs while Facebook has more than two billion monthly active users. The deal provides Sony/ATV’s songwriters with an opportunity to earn royalties from the use of their music on both Facebook and Instagram.

    Sony/ATV’s contemporary roster includes Drake, Kanye West, Pharrell Williams, Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, and Sia. It also represents the songs of legends like The Beatles, Michael Jackson, and Queen.

    Sony/ATV Chairman and CEO Martin Bandier said in a press release:

    “We are thrilled that in signing this agreement Facebook recognizes the value that music brings to their service and that our songwriters will now benefit from the use of their music on Facebook. We are looking forward to a long and prosperous relationship.”

    Tamara Hrivnak, head of music business development and partnerships at Facebook, added:

    “We’re excited to work with the largest music publisher in the world to bring amazing songs which deepen connections between friends and fans. Sony/ATV is a true leader and an absolute champion of writers in the digital space, and we’re thrilled to work with them as they grab new opportunities by the horns across all of our platforms.”

    Related: Facebook Signs Licensing Deal With Universal Music Group

    Posted in Music Industry
  • How Timbaland Revolutionized R&B and Hip-Hop and Reinvented Himself After Addiction

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    Complex has featured Timbaland on the latest episode of their Blueprint series. The Grammy-winning icon recounted how he went from making his first beat on a Casio keyboard to producing groundbreaking tracks for the likes of Aaliyah, Ginuwine, Missy Elliot, JAY-Z, and Justin Timberlake. The 26-minute convo includes inspirational insights on how he overcame drug addiction and fell back in love with music.

    Watch the full interview above.

    Related: How Poo Bear Went From Being Homeless to Writing Justin Bieber Hits

  • How Poo Bear Went From Being Homeless to Writing Justin Bieber Hits

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    Poo Bear
    Poo Bear at Record Plant studios in Los Angeles / Red Bull

    Songwriter, producer, and singer Poo Bear is best known for co-writing some of Justin Bieber’s biggest hits, like “What Do You Mean” and Jack U’s “Where Are U Now.” However, the Connecticut native got his start in the ’00s, having penned anthems such as 112‘s “Dance With Me” and “Peaches & Cream,” and Usher‘s “Caught Up.”

    In an inspiring interview with Complex’s Blueprint series, Poo Bear discussed his humble beginnings and rise to fame, from being homeless to writing for some of music’s biggest stars.

    Betting it all on music:

    “I never had a back-up plan. [laughs] My teachers [would] just say, ‘you need to pay attention in school ’cause only 1% of people make it in the music business and you’re not that 1%.’ When my teacher said that to me, I was 15 and I had a song on the radio with a group called 112. … I never thought about if this doesn’t happen, what am I gonna do. Never. Not once did I come up with a back-up plan. So thank god it worked out.”

    Transitioning from artist to writer:

    “[I] made a conscious decision to quit my group and just focus on writing songs for other people. And I never really honestly had a real desire to be famous. I just wanted to be able to make a better living for my family.”

    His writing process:

    “I go to my phone and I’m gonna look up concepts that I’ve been jotting down. … The concept is usually the title of the song … the main idea of the song. Then it’s the chords; let’s find the chords that move people’s emotions. And then usually I start off doing the hook first, the most important part of the song. The hook for me is always supposed to be simple and effective, so simple enough for a five-year-old to sing along with it unconsciously … but then clever enough to stimulate a smart person.”

    Staying focused during uncertain times:

    “When you don’t have options and your back is up against the wall, you deliver and you find yourself getting through moments that in reality, they’re trying times, but there really wasn’t any other options. It was like, you gotta go in and you gotta work, you gotta create music, and you have to be honest, and it’s not gonna be great every time but you gotta keep doing it. I think that’s what got me to this place, just not having a back-up plan.”

    Watch the full conversation below.

    Related: Skrillex Teams With Poo Bear for Soulful Single, ‘Would You Ever’

  • Facebook Signs Licensing Deal With Universal Music Group

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    Facebook has signed an “unprecedented” licensing deal with Universal Music Group (UMG), according to a press release obtained by Music Business Worldwide. The “global, multi-year agreement” licenses UMG’s recorded music and publishing catalogs for video and other experiences across Facebook, Instagram, and VR platform, Oculus.

    Under the partnership, users will be able to upload and share videos that contain UMG music to Facebook, Instagram, and Oculus. The deal is particularly appealing to DJs and music producers, who have experienced copyright takedowns over the past couple of years.

    Presumably, DJs and producers will be able to upload and share videos that contain UMG material, such as mixes, remixes, and routines. However, the two other major labels, Warner Music Group (WMG) and Sony Music, haven’t signed deals with Facebook yet. Videos that contain unlicensed content from those companies — and independent labels — could still be taken down.

    According to a press release:

    “The partnership will facilitate deeper engagement between artists and fans, empowering users to express themselves through music, share the songs they love and build communities around music-fueled culture. Enabling a variety of features across Facebook’s platforms, the agreement is intended to serve as a foundation for a strategic partnership roadmap that will deliver new music-based experiences online.”

    Michael Nash, executive vice president of digital strategy at UMG, said:

    “This partnership is an important first step demonstrating that innovation and fair compensation for music creators are mutually reinforcing – they thrive together. We look forward to Facebook becoming a significant contributor to a healthy ecosystem for music that will benefit artists, fans and all those who invest in bringing great music to the world.”

    Related: Facebook Steps Up Efforts to Reach Deal With Music Industry

    Posted in Music Industry
  • Terrence ‘Punch’ Henderson Talks Building Top Dawg Entertainment, Mentoring Kendrick Lamar and SZA

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    Top Dawg Entertainment has cemented itself to be one of hip-hop’s premier independent label. The company, which is led by Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith and Terrence “Punch” Henderson, houses artists including Kendrick Lamar, ScHoolboy Q, Jay Rock, and SZA.

    However, before the label enjoyed its success, it faced many challenges. In an in-depth interview with Complex, “Punch” discussed how he helped build TDE and the role he played in each of the artists’ growth. He also shared who he draws inspiration from and what motivates him to stay in the music business.

    On joining forces with Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith:

    “He was there from the start of when I was trying to do what I was doing. He would give me little advice. . . It was constant conversation. If I had a question, I would call him. The conversations just grew more. . . He liked the way I think, the way my mind works. That I should just come over with him. And at the same time, I was reaching a limit with what I was doing. . .”

    On why TDE split with Warner Music Group:

    “We didn’t fit and we didn’t want to be there. And I don’t think they necessarily wanted us to be there. It was kind of an easy split. We got this internet thing that’s moving now, we got Twitter. . . We don’t need a middle man. If we can go directly to the people, then when it’s time to deal with them again if we want to, we’ll have leverage.”

    On helping Kendrick (formerly known as K. Dot) introduce himself as Kendrick Lamar:

    “The first thing you do when you introduce yourself to somebody is you tell them your name. And that’s how they get to know you and who you are. And at that time he wanted to make more personal music. Before that he was rapping for the sake of rapping. Rapping about rap. So I was like, ‘tell stories and show your lyrical ability within those true stories. That’d get the people right away.'”

    On how he and his artists come up with concepts at the studio:

    “We spend more time talking in the studio than recording. . . We be sitting around throwing out ideas. Talking from science, to religion, to history, to what’s going on in the neighborhood. Through that we developed certain concepts, certain ideas.”

    On the role he plays in his artists’ growth:

    “I’m more of a confirmation. I can write, record. They [the artists] respect what I do musically as well. I’ve always been a writer, I never considered to be a rapper. I understand them more than the average business person, or an average label person would. Cause I know what’s like to be stuck on a bar, or I know what is like to deliver a certain lyric a certain way. So it’s a deeper connection. So they know they can always call me. . . And I’ll give them exactly what it is. I can give way more insight on it.”

    On what motivates him to stay in the music business:

    “I’m not really goal driven, that’s not my thing. I just enjoy making the music and touching people. Once it touches the people and moves them a certain way, I guess that’s the goal that’s been fulfilled. Everything else that comes with it is cool, I appreciate it for sure. But the main focus is to change something about somebody’s life.”

    Watch the full conversation above.

    Related: How Chance The Rapper’s Manager Reimagined the Music Business

  • Apple is Reportedly Buying Shazam

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    UPDATE: Apple has confirmed the acquisition in a statement provided to Billboard. The company did not reveal the specifics of the deal.

    Apple is reportedly buying music recognition app Shazam for $400 million, according to multiple sources. The move would allow Apple to integrate the service into its line of mobile devices in a time when the company faces increased competition from Google and Samsung.

    Recode has reported that the deal is worth $400 million, while Tech Crunch has cited sources that say the deal is expected to be signed this week. The company was last valued at $1 billion, according to various sources.

    The Shazam app enables users to identify music that’s playing nearby. It has been one of the most popular mobile apps since its launch in 2008.

    Founded in 1999, Shazam made $50 million in revenue in 2016, according to Business Insider.

    Related: How Camila Cabello Used Data to Pick ‘Havana’ as the Lead Single for Her Debut Album

    Posted in Music Industry
  • A-Trak Tells His Story in Comprehensive Interview

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    A-Trak at ComplexCon in Long Beach, CA / Oliver Scherillo

    A-Trak‘s gift behind the tables coupled with his ambitious and selfless personality has helped him transcend DJing. With his Fool’s Gold label and Day Off festival, the Montreal native has flourished into one of the most influential and respected figures in the music industry. And, after a prolific 20-year career, A-Trak continues to push forward with no end in sight.

    The Fool’s Gold chief recently got a chance to tell his inspiring story in a comprehensive interview for Complex’s Blueprint series (he’s the first DJ to be featured on the series). The 36-minute conversation covered most of his career and is full of valuable insights and lessons.

    Topics discussed include how working with Kanye West changed his life, launching Fool’s Gold, the rise of EDM, his Goldie Awards DJ battle, and why continually reinvents himself.

    On why he and Nick Catchdubs started Fool’s Gold:

    “The fact that we’re a DJ-run label was important because a lot of the early releases fell into this unclassifiable category of club music. We had a few rappers that were experimenting with electronic beats, which at the time was not the norm at all. So we had that, and we had electronic music that appealed to hip-hop heads. Nick and I knew that as DJs that all made sense and not only that, but that was the most exciting music at the time.”

    On the rise of EDM:

    “Ever since I was a kid scratching, it was so important for me for DJing to have legitimacy. And when EDM exploded in North America, we finally got it. Rather than getting hung up over, you know, some sides of it that maybe weren’t the version of DJing that I like or whatever else, my thing was like, ‘Hey, we finally got people’s eyeballs. This is the moment now. We got people’s attention. Everybody wants in on this.’ … DJ culture. That’s what the EDM really is. DJ culture conquered the world, and to me that was exciting.”

    On his financial standing:

    “I’ve never taken a salary from Fool’s Gold. This company is not how I make money. This company is how I get cool ideas out. I make my money being A-Trak. And occasionally that involves Duck Sauce or whatever else.”

    On being open-minded to different music:

    “I’m such a child of the DJ Premier era. I’m such a child of boom bap. And when keyboard beats started appearing, that sounded so wrong to me in the beginning. But [then] I realized that I was clinging on to one paradigm and that it’s wrong to do that in music, especially as a DJ.”

    On staying relevant:

    “In general, I will say that the entertainment business and music as a whole is designed to give people like myself, and anyone that makes music, a career normally of like five years. The challenge is longevity, and the way to overcome that challenge I think, or at least I’ve found, is this sort of constant reinvention. I always think of where the path is going and, you know, what I did before and what I’m about to do next. And that’s why none of the new elements that come into what I’m doing are ever too much off course because I know the story. I’m writing the story.”

    Watch the full conversation below.

    Related: A-Trak Breaks Down His ‘rockstar’ Routine