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Op-Ed: Hip-Hop Vs. Fox News ... A War Of Believers - Bob Lefsetz
Jay-ZBy Rich Thane / CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

Op-Ed: Hip-Hop Vs. Fox News … A War Of Believers – Bob Lefsetz

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People hate hip-hop like they hate Fox News.

We’re used to a monoculture in music, a cohesiveness, a comprehensible landscape.

But that’s all been shot to hell.

But the usual suspects act like it hasn’t.

Radio is the land of hip-hop and oldies, along with verticals that seem to exist in their own rarefied air, like AAA and Active Rock.

Streaming is the land of hip-hop.

Country is still beholden to the old terrestrial radio paradigm.

Meanwhile, they keep printing a Top Ten in the newspaper like it matters. Meanwhile, that Top Ten is totally fraudulent. It’s not sales, but a hybrid of sales and streams and certain plays count and others don’t and one cut can equal a whole album and no wonder people are confused.

We keep thinking we’re gonna go back to where we once were.

Hell, there is an iTunes chart. A Spotify chart.

But they don’t reflect what is really happening out there.

Hell, I’ll argue you’re better off looking at concert grosses. That shows true demand, people showing up and paying, fans.

But the point is now, more than ever, the genres don’t mix.

Sure, they rap in country records, but they don’t play hip-hop records on country stations.

But just to complicate it a bit more, fans of country might also like hip-hop. With everything available, people can cross genres easily.

But we keep boiling it down to statistics and it looks like hip-hop kills everything else and everything else is irrelevant.

But that’s not true.

But if you’re looking for your genre to eclipse hip-hop, it’s probably not gonna happen, but you have to play on hip-hop’s terms, which means there must be collaboration, which pays dividends in social media, getting the word out, and you must embrace all the tools of the web/app/internet world.

This is what is holding the other genres back.

Don’t listen to the terrestrial radio hype. Yes, it’s still the best way to reach the most people, the only problem is the active people, i.e. the youngsters, aren’t listening, they’re all on on demand platforms.

You play for the future, not the past. You skate where the puck is going to be.

And that’s all in on demand.

But how do you create demand?


And most people are online constantly, and if you’re not, you’re toast.

So you shouldn’t compare yourself to other genres. You shouldn’t complain you’re not on Top Forty radio. Top Forty radio is NEVER going to play your non-hip-hop music. Playlists are getting narrower, not broader, and they’re never going to go broad again.

But let’s get back to the hate.

Most people over thirty can’t understand today’s music marketplace.

And honestly, those under that age are not so smart either.

You keep hearing about these records you hate. It agitates you. You want relief.

But it’s just like people watching Fox News. They don’t care about you, they’ve got blinders on, this is all they know. And you can rail about other bands or other songs and they just won’t listen. Meanwhile, you’re wondering how we can live in such a world.

It’s positively Tower of Babel.

But it’s only a zero sum game on the chart.

But not in real life. If people come to see your act, it’s not at the cost of the act in another genre.

No one is making sense of what is going on.

The labels only sign that which is percolating and sells. Never have they been more of an enterprise as opposed to a museum.

The distributors say it’s not their fault, Spotify and Apple and Amazon are just serving demand, they’re not trying to change public consciousness.

Meanwhile, you have trouble finding the music you like amongst the dross.

So feel free to hate hip-hop, many people do.

But don’t bother going on about it, build your genre up, testify, spread the word, and embrace new marketing and distribution tools.

If anybody tells you they know what’s going on in music, don’t listen to them, because NOBODY KNOWS WHAT’S GOING ON! At most, people only know the facts in their own genre.

But you can make news and have success in yours.

As long as you stop complaining about theirs.

P.S. My inbox is gonna fill up with people castigating MSNBC and lauding Fox News, but that’s just the point. This war between believers is fruitless. But thank god music is not quantifiable, not based on facts. You can love what you love and be proud of it, YOU SHOULD!

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