Congratulations are in order for Russ, who was just named one of Forbes 30 Under 30 in music. As the featured nominee, Russ gave out some free music industry game, as he often does, shining a light on how labels use advances to slyly manipulate young artists.
“The advance is the least important part of the deal,” Russ said, going along with his “long term-bags only” mentality. “Labels know what they’re doing. They know that if they hang, fuckin’, half a million dollars in front of these kids’ faces, they’re jumping at that. They’re like ‘I don’t give a fuck about what else the deal is,’ but it’s like, really? Now they’re touching your merch, and they’re touching your touring, and you might be in a 360 [deal] before you even realize it.”
For those on the outside of the industry, Russ is more correct than he isn’t. While it’s perhaps callous to assume all label executives are offering deals to prey on upcoming acts, the truth is that the advance is, in fact, a misleading part of any deal. It is not, as some young artists seem to think, free money for being talented. If your work does not make up your advance—meaning it is more of a loan—then you owe the label that money. That’s why when G Herbo blew his first advance, he was subsequently in hot water.
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Upcoming artists have a lot of resources, and they also have a lot of legalese to navigate in the music business. It is important to only enter a deal when you understand the terms and you have the leverage to ensure you’re getting a deal that benefits you, not just the label. Russ advises these very same things. And he’s in Forbes. Go figure.
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