So Jay-Z decided his duty at Def Jam has run its course; over the holiday a press release circulated saying Shawn Carter is stepping down as president of Def Jam when his contract expires at the end of the year. Think, next Tuesday. His successor hasn’t been officially announced yet, but Jermaine Dupri, with the president spot at Island Urban Music and experience with rap and R&B, is the logical choice to double up as the next man to be fitted in the Def Jam presidential brim.
A few weeks ago in a Billboard interview (spotted at sixshot), Jay-Z denied that his contract negotiations were about money. With the digital everything nature of music, he talked about changing the way music is being distributed to fit the consumer’s new ways of digesting it.
“It’s really about trying to invest in the future, trying to invest in maybe coming up with a new model. Because going in hard making records with artists and throwing those records into a system that’s flawed is not exciting for me. It’s not the music.. It’s just that the model of selling CDs has changed. So doing things the typical way is not in the best interests of anyone and not exciting for me. My whole thing is, how do we invest in the future? If everyone is committed to doing that, then I’m sure there’s a deal to be made.”
It’s hard to stop a machine that’s been rolling in one direction for decades. Not getting a hold on the brakes could have been the one thing that killed a new Def Jam deal. Jay-Z has one more Roc-A-Fella album to Rain Man before he can sign with another label that might entertain his ideas, or maybe he’ll go off on his own.
In the same article he talked about what could follow that last album.
“This is all hypothetical but I’ve been thinking on the fly: I have one album left, right? If I’m inspired to make that album, then my contract is done and I’m not in the music business anymore as far as being an artist. I can still make music but how I reach people with that music ... I can do anything with it at that point. It’s kind of exciting in a way. I’m not in the music business so I can drop a single every month. Who knows? The possibilities are endless—and without any pressure to sell anything. I could make whatever and do whatever with my music. Maybe the songs would just play in 40/40.”
This weekend, December 30, Jay-Z will perform at the new 40/40 in Las Vegas (VIP only) with a New Years Eve party open to the public the next day. Now imagine the songs you hear that night are exclusive, new joints you’d only hear at the club. That would keep a nice crowd at 40/40’s worldwide (Tokyo and Macau coming soon), now how he makes money off those songs is another thing. What is he gonna do sell CDs at the door?
I’m thinking a semi-working relationship with the industry, dipped deep in the all digital independent side ala Radiohead, NIN, and Saul Williams is in his future.