Listen To The Kids, Bro!

Nope we’re not actually going to get into trying to break down the whole meaning of Kanye’s speech at the MTV VMAs – but yeah if he wants us to listen to the kids – lets ask if executives in the music industry are actually listening loud and clear?

The results of this years Billboard music executive survey were published last week after the publication courted some controversy around the nature of it’s questions which tastelessly asked executives if they actually believed Keisha’s allegations of abuse at the hands of Dr Luke. The criticism seems to have been noted and the final results showed none of the controversial questions and listed a much tamer and shorter list of results.

So other then the sweeping adoration for Taylor Swift that was far from surprising, the results also showed that the executives questioned listed rap music as a genre they ‘despised’ the most while ironically most admired the legendary music industry executive Jimmy Iovine who co-founded Interscope Records which blew up predominately because it started out as a rap-heavy label.


So despite all the ‘despise’ for rap music in the music industry, the fans seem to be pushing forward the continued surge of rap music both in the U.S and in the U.K.

Hip-Hop dominated across all of the streaming services with the 2015 streaming numbers featuring an entire Top 5 of Hip-Hop artists – Kendrick Lamar, Meek Mill, A$AP Rocky, Future and Big Sean.

Hip-Hop was the single biggest event to change the structure of modern music and it’s impact has been bigger than Rock and that’s been scientifically proven. And now Hip-Hop is poised to takeover at the screens with a surge in Hip-Hop cinema and tv shows.


It’s the visionaries who’ve always transformed and shaped the changing face of the music industry and without Hip-Hop and executives like Jimmy Iovine, Russell Simmons and Jay-Z it arguably could be in a very different state of affairs today. For over half of the execs that said they would rather leave their current job for a similar-paying position at Apple or Spotify – maybe they should sit tight. Forward thinking companies require forward thinking executives and maybe it is time to set personal prejudice aside and ‘listen to the kids… bro!’.


It may also point to the fact that the industry is still heavily dominated by white executives from privileged backrounds who are in the most influential positions. But despite the despise, Hip-Hop is out-streaming any other genre of music and Digital Music News asked at the beginning of 2014 why the music industry is still the domain of a ‘white boys club’. The lack of diversity is startling and very few influential black executives can be seen at senior roles in the traditional labels and even fewer are visible at the newer companies.

The writer notes “I can’t name one Black executive from Pandora, Live Nation, Apple, Spotify, AEG, or SXSW, just to pluck from the above list.  That doesn’t mean they don’t exist, but for the most part, they are not in prominent, influential positions at these companies.  And, sadly, there’s a distinct possibility there aren’t any influential Black executives on the payrolls at many of these enterprises.” But things haven’t changed much in 2015 and Billboards 100 Power list published early in 2015 showed little change at the top.

A recent article in the Economist also analysed the recent boom in the festival circuit suggesting that there was a problem looming with a shrinking headline talent pool that may also be a symptom of the lack of nurturing newer talent and it’s starting to ‘smell like middle-aged spirit’. This weekend Grime, U.K Rap as well as U.S Hip-Hop acts including Kendrick Lamar were firmly on the bill at Leeds & Reading Festival and there was no doubt that these acts were completely in key with todays teen spirit as they shutdown the stages across the board – the crowds were immense.

So if all of that hasn’t put you off joining the industry than go and check out the UK Music ‘Introduction to the Music Industry’ event in partnership with Black British Music – take up the chance to ask some questions and find out why you might want to get involved and redress the balance.