It’s Friday Hip Hop Heads! The business side of the music industry is tricky and if you don’t have someone knowledgeable and bipartisan reviewing your contracts you could be stuck in your first contract your entire career. Many young Rappers and Emcees find themselves in legal proceedings just to negotiate their “artistic freedom”. A young Rapper who only has a high school diploma may not care what’s in the contract because they just want to have a future to look forward to. They may not necessarily know how to read a contract making them susceptible to the dreaded 360 deal. As record sales spiraled downward, record labels were looking to find more streams of revenue resulting in the creation of “360 deals.” According to the American Bar Association 360 deals are contracts that allow the record label to receive a percentage of the earnings from all of an artist’s activities rather than just earnings from record sales. So that means if a Rapper goes on tour, gets an endorsement deal, television show, or does anything to get income outside of selling music the label can get a percentage of those sales as well.
There are many Emcees who were in 360 deals when their first album dropped but they had leverage and were able to get out of the deal. However, everyone is not as fortunate to do so. A Rapper can make millions but if the label has a 60/40 split with the artist who’s making the bulk of the money? A Rappers first deal could be ten years or more which is why it is important to read! The labels depend on a young emcee not reading the fine print and signing over everything including their stage name, image, and likeness. Future is being sued by Rocko who claims he is owed 20% of Future’s earnings, which includes touring and endorsements.
Future is a radio darling who is super-hot in the streets and making a lot of money. It’s not a bad look on Rocko’s part because Future is the one who signed the deal. It’s possible that Future didn’t know what he was signing and how it would affect him in the future (No pun intended). You never know how successful you may become as time passes but that’s the nature of the business. A lot of people and labels know that an artist may have future successes and want to cash in on work that they didn’t put in. If you ask some “business managers” or record execs I’m sure they’ll say that they were with you when you were shooting in the gym! Just because someone was watching you work doesn’t mean they worked with you. A young Rapper comes into the game thinking that certain people have their best interest in mind but they only have their own in mind and hopefully the new up and coming Rappers and Emcees will be able to navigate through all three hundred and sixty degrees.