Fresh off the Gold certification of his debut album, There's Really a Wolf, Atlanta hitmaker Russ stopped by Complex's daily video show Everyday Struggle on Friday, where he discussed, among other things, his comments in May about the blog era being over (it is) and his record contract (read: partnership) with Columbia Records, which included a multi-million-dollar advance.
Whereas most young artists shy away from talking about the parameters of their record deal with a major label—and with good reason, it's really nobody's business—Russ embraced the opportunity to discuss his alignment with Columbia.
"You can either get a royalty deal, which is what most new artists out the gate get, [where] you gotta wait around for your royalties, nine months, 10 months, crazy shit, you get no points on your shit," Russ explained to show hosts Nadeska and DJ Akademiks. "I made sure that I built up leverage. I was selling out shows, I was doing all of this shit. With a profit split [deal], let's do the math: I got 300 songs out and I did an album deal [with Columbia]. None of those 300 songs get touched, [it's] only the shit on the album. And off of that album, you're going to give me a bunch of money. After that money gets recouped, we then split everything 50/50. So, out of the 20 songs, it's really like, you're getting 10. So out of my 300 songs, you're getting 10. So how much of me did I actually sign to you?"
It's easy to say all artists should pursue 50/50 partnership opportunities with major labels—who can help them secure radio spins, on-demand streaming service playlist positioning, and live television performance opportunities—but the reality is that few artists can enter a negotiation with the necessary leverage to secure a favorable deal. Especially, if you're nothing more than a flavor-of-the-month artist. Remember 22 Savage? Exactly.
All of the "bad" record and publishing deals usually gobble up the headlines—oh, hey, Lil Yachty—but Russ is far from the only young, buzzing artists to secure a profitable situation for himself over the past two years. Thanks to a similar buzz, which helped her create the same leverage that Russ mentioned during his interview, SZA and TDE secured a 70/30 split when they partnered with RCA Records for the release of SZA's acclaimed debut, Ctrl.