Kid Cudi Goes After Universal Again, Wonders Why His Millions Of Video Views Aren't Translating Into Radio Airplay

from the umg-is-still-there-to-take-a-cut-of-whatever's-earned-WITHOUT-its-help dept

Hip hop artist Kid Cudi is at it again, tearing into Universal Music for its lack of support. Last February, Cudi decided to branch out stylistically with his album "WZRD," citing Pink Floyd, Nirvana and the Pixies as inspiration. The label's response was to ship only 55,000 physical copies and continue pushing Cudi towards completion of another album in the vein of his first two.

Cudi took to Twitter to express his displeasure and became his own promotional team. The result? "WZRD" debuted at #3 on the Billboard 200 chart -- all without label support. Now, something else has caught Cudi's attention and (re)raised his ire at his label. Apparently, he's racking up millions of views at Vevo -- but his latest singles (which are the "return to form" Universal seemed to be seeking) are getting no radio push from Universal, unlike other artists with similar view totals.
"King Wizard 3.4 million views on Vevo, Just What I Am has 4.3 million and my shit is not on regular rotation on radio. Hmmm," Cudi Tweeted from his account, @ducidni.

"Trinidad James got 4.1 million views on his hit (rightfully so), and I hear that jam EVERYWHERE. Wheres my fuckin spins???" the rapper born Scott Mescudi added.
It must be noted that Cudi has racked up three million views in a little less than a month. His previous track, "Just What I Am," has 4.5 million views in two months, all without label support or radio airplay. Here's Cudi's Twitter rant in full:

Interestingly, Kid Cudi's official site (which is owned by Universal Music) includes his Twitter feed and it appears that UMG has decided to edit out any disparaging tweets. His "Im talking numbers..." tweet now floats freely in a context-free void, following his last, pre-rant tweet of "Dentist :("

UMG's not actually putting words in Cudi's mouth, but it's certainly taking quite a few out of it. Fortunately for Cudi, UMG doesn't control his actual Twitter account, but after the events of the last several months, I'm willing to bet it wishes it did.

If Cudi can push this volume with little to no support, it's probably a good indication that he could strike out on his own and move on from UMG. Of course, nothing in the major label world is quite that easy, what with contractual obligations and the fact that the third party that controls his creations would be more than willing to hang onto his catalog in perpetuity, even if it feels it's not worth supporting.
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Filed Under: kid cudi, music industry
Companies: universal music

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  1. identicon
    Jose_X, 27 Jan 2013 @ 8:47am

    Why make 80% and 90% when can make just 90%?

    In other words, maybe they want this artist to negotiate down much lower royalties (or something like that) before they push his sales that would otherwise take from sales of another artist of similar marketability that is working for a lower royalty.

    You want to maximize profits by putting as much as possible behind the higher margin business rather than diluting the investment with lower margin stuff.

    Eg, if the label believes the total market for music of any of artists A1, A2, or A3 is $20 million with an overhead of $1 million for each A that is fully promoted (but much less overhead for artists hardly promoted), and if A1 yields 90% to the label while A2 and A3 yield "only" 80%, then the label maximizes profits by promoting only A1.

    They'd get 90% of ($20 million - $1 million) = $17.1M. But if they instead promote all 3 equally, they would have to split the 20M market (reduced by $3 million overhead) where perhaps 1/3 is at 90% but the other 2/3 are at "only" 80%. (90%/3+80%/3+80%/3) of (20M - 3M) = $14.17M.

    $17.1M > $14.17M.

    You get the most bang for buck by putting all your money behind the highest margin business instead of splitting some of the money across some lower margin businesses. They cover risk by trying to own the contract (and copyright) of the backups but keeping them hungry and pushing each other to create better stuff for less.

    If the benchwarmers get significantly better (to grow the market or move into other markets) or decide to cut a deal that yields sufficiently extra to the label, then that artist might move to the number 1 slot.

    Own the talent and keep them competing aggressively (hungry) against each other, always striving to use each against the other to improve the label's contract terms and ideally have the artists work for peanuts for perpetuity (P4P). Meanwhile, try to keep direct competition (to the label) down by attacking the Internet and otherwise trying to create a high bar to entry.

    This is normal business 101 (or 102), and follows directly from supply/demand, always trying to be on the side of the table that has few competitors and across from the side that has as many competitors on that side as possible striving for your business.

    [BTW, reject the above business approach and any that does not consider other humans to be basically your brothers and sisters, whom you almost surely would not treat this way.]

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