Top Dawg Entertainment did not become the “mafia of the West” by accident. As their most recent signee Reason breaks down in a new episode of Open Space with Mass Appeal, the label succeeds because meeting with them is unlike meeting with any other record label in the game.
“Every meeting, all they talked about was my social media, my YouTube numbers, my SoundCloud numbers, and then we would play music for six minutes and that would be it,” he said. “Top did not bring those things up once, and we played music for an hour and a half, and we see where TDE is. Because at the end of the day, you can do whatever you want, you can put glitter on it, try to make it shine, they gotta play the music. If the music isn’t there, it’s like, what else are you left with?”
Numbers come and go, but what are you going to do if the music isn’t striking? While more and more young artists make their careers off of virality, the most promising upcoming acts are the ones who understand albums and message will always outlive viral success. Word to TDE.
Thankfully, Top Dawg isn’t the only player in the major-label space that understands numbers can never tell the full story. Earlier this month, Def Jam EVP Steven Victor also chimed in on the problem with letting the numbers trump the music, telling Hits Daily Double: “I don’t really look for the numbers, because the numbers could be deceiving—shit moves so fast these days. Somebody could be poppin’ today, and then six months later they do the wrong thing or something happens; the fans are on to the new. If you’re basing it on data, you can get bit.”
The moral here is that numbers will never be able to tell the full story, and a gang of Instagram followers will never make you a better rapper. Put in the work and make music that matters, and the fans and followers will naturally follow.
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