We’re chuffed this week to have had Public Enemy’s Chuck D writing the comment piece for the Music Ally Report. We enjoyed his piece so much, in fact, that we wanted to publish it here for a wider audience. So without further ado, read on!“While this year marks the 20th anniversary of Fight The Power, I’d like to point to a lesser known commemoration from ten years back, when Public Enemy left Def Jam and entered the world of digital distribution.About a year before, in 1998, smack dab in the middle of Public Enemy headlining the Smokin’ Grooves tour, we created and it became one of the very first artist sites in rap and hip hop. The Terrordome became what netizens would later call a ‘blog’. My points were heard and read beyond any interview I could do, direct from the source.For the previous years leading up to it, I wondered when there could be TV on the web, if people could eventually email songs, and how about folks becoming one with the artistry. A seamless artist-audience relationship. All I could do back then is dream, wish, write, and wait. So I waited. And wrote.A year later, it was 1999 and Public Enemy landed a digital distribution recording venture with the innovative music businessman Al Teller, the man who first signed Def Jam to CBS in 1985 in the afterwinds of Michael Jackson’s Thriller money and the aftermath of Run DMC’s Krush Groove.So when Public Enemy’s There’s A Poison Goin’ On was released in 1999 it was like break-dancing on the digital moon. Coupled with Shawn Fanning’s world-shaking file sharing ware Napster, the road to sonic freedom was essential discovery.Since television had blocked hip hop out, I started (with partners) in 1999 to help promote acts in this new way, and then launched the SLAMjamz Digital Recording label in 2001. The necessity for these supersites spawned massives such as and For the first time in music industry memory the business seemed to not have the dominant word on the configuration of the distribution.In 2009 it’s foolish for anyone to say they didn’t see it coming.Fast forward to my involvement with SellaBand. Since 1999 I have gone non-stop in promoting the opportunities in digital music; panels, lectures, conventions and seminars. At the world’s largest music conference MIDEM in January 2008, I was on a panel discussing artist survival in the new digital planet.There were supersites, wireless phone companies and new artist music management models such as SellaBand. Its concept was again eliminating waste at the base. Eliminating the hopes of anonymity to mainly support artists and instead making the fan a participant from minute one. Calling a fan a believer is like taking a sports team approach, it builds the support base in reverse.As a proven system in Europe, my belief in making SellaBand work in the USA is based on the strength of an artist rebuilding locally within the radius of their home area, then possibly raising participation nationally and internationally upon proving themselves.Proving themselves LIVE is an important aspect here. It used to be the backbone of the record business, in fact up to the 1990’s performance art was sacrificed for the illusion of instant stardom without merit via videos. The business made the mistake of using this supplement as a replacement. SellaBand’s approach provides a default of public relations where every fanatic is important and focused upon.This sets another initiative for endorsements, licensing and publishing opportunities to follow because the reasons surrounding the artists’ DNA should be clearer understood. Notwithstanding, the SellaBand model is similar to a stock investment into the future course of the artist’s project, really in essence making the fan a true believer and participant.The music business is healthy, the record business is not. This model has the best potential into replacing the old version of recording company.Since the collapse of the record business as we knew it, many artists started as far back as five or six years ago to prepare their careers for the digital turf. So many at the turn of the century were resigned to use the digital tools in lieu of signing a traditional deal to make the artists rich, famous and more comfortable while recording and touring.When deals like this were less available, many opted to explore, to find out what else could be offered. The major label system as we knew it could at best only support its handful of artists with the same promotional ways.Unfortunately this has come at a delayed response from the major hip hop artists, because their companies had lost money and therefore staffing as well, many big name artists have mimicked the beef of their employers. At the start of the digital curve, major record companies convinced their naive artist base that the digital aspect of downloading was criminal and was robbing them blind of any royalties.At the same time they neglected to get across the fact of excessive waste in lieu of marketing, promotion and exposure in the business nearly wiping out many back-ended royalties. Many hip hop grass-roots organizations looked at other genres and applied it to rap as a Do It Yourself model.In the squeeze of offline independents and retail getting smashed out of business by millennium costs, the digital area from the floor up was a savings in the prices of manufacturing, production, promotion and distribution. It was an easier transition from ground zero cost, now whatever money was made was based on how much was saved and how many tasks were directly accomplished without middle or third party personnel.As said before, this record company model is a more focused, streamlined version in reverse mode when it comes down to figuring its financial base, with little or no waste of expense.Big, mid name and past marketed artists in hip hop have much to gain with reconnecting familiar name brands with the SellaBand system. It has started working in Europe and the UK with success cases. The strong background of hip hop and rap music in the US and North America is a reason I feel SellaBand can return a new sense of record company infrastructure to the business.Chuck D is the co-founder and frontman of Public Enemy, and was recently appointed as the US ambassador for SellaBand. For more info, see and

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