“The music business isn’t set up for the artists to get rich. It’s set up for everyone else to get rich off the artists. Take the power back. Artists are the nucleus. Everything and everyone else is interchangeable” – Russ via. Twitter.
Atlanta rapper Russ is known for being outspoken about a number of subjects like hip-hop’s perceived substance abuse problem but mainly, he’s accumulated a lot of attention (and trolling) for championing about his DIY success since entering the music game with his first self-produced album in 2011. Recently one of his first major singles, “Ain’t Nobody Takin’ My Baby”. crossed the one million sold benchmark, landing him, his first independently-produced platinum certification from the RIAA. The song was distributed by released through the digital music distribution service TuneCore.
While celebrating the success, he launched into one of his signature Twitter threads to extol the virtues of artist resource Tunecore, which he says can make artists “millions upon millions of dollars.” Breaking down major label contracts and the profit splits new artists can expect to pay out, he provided an in-depth summary of exactly how artists can avoid some of the biggest pitfalls of the industry and highlighted ownership as the path to financial stability for artists.
“You can make millions upon millions of dollars on Tunecore and not have to break anyone off. Stop lettin this whole ‘there’s no money in music for the artist narrative’ keep circulating. Shit is a lie. Own your shit and be self sufficient and you’ll cake or be dumb & complain” he wrote on Twitter.
He continued by giving out some advice regarding shady label advances and managers (& lawyers) ripping off artists,
“Yall sign for a million which really turns into you netting only like 350k cuz yall be havin lawyers takin 5% for sitting in an office in Beverly Hills and managers takin 20% and then after you get the new rapper new money starter kit you left with like 150k livin beyond ur means “, he wrote and added “So y’all gonna give a manager 20% , a business manager 5% and a lawyer 5% and then on top of that, YOU DONT EVEN OWN YOUR MUSIC how you expect to eat?!?! That’s 30% of all money you make already comin off the top. And y’all don’t sell tickets cuz you want fast club money“.
Russ concluded by talking about royalty-based record deal, where an artist has to recoup their advance before getting to see any splits from royalties.
“And since yalls money is all tied up and ur on a royalty rate deal meaning it could be over a year before you even see money (if ur not recouped) y’all hit the clubs & pick up brown bags that secure NO longevity for your career cuz you’re basically STILL livin check to check“.
Of course, this isn’t the first time Russ has gone out of his way to pull back the curtain on the industry and pass out free game to aspiring artists. During an interview on The Breakfast Club in 2017, he explained how building buzz gave him added leverage during his own contractual negotiations with Columbia Records, setting him up for a “joint venture” with the label instead of a more traditional record deal.
See the full tweet thread below.