Krush Groovin’ into the future of music

Kurtis Blow’s protege talks about where music was and where it’s going

After more than thirty years in the music industry, King Trick has witnessed many trends in methods of distribution, marketing, and promotions.  Trick, a member of the hip hop group Mixxxmastarzs and the official West Coast protege of hip hop legend Kurtis Blow, has been involved in every form of distribution from vinyl, cassettes, and iTunes, to the new wave of streaming media. Trick said he felt, in order to gain a good perspective of where the chaotic music industry is headed, it is essential to journey back in time and take a look at where it’s been while simultaneously understanding that the devices may have changed, but the basic fundamental psychology of the consumer has stayed the same.

Back In The Day

As the West Coast King of the Zulu Nation and manager/producer of the new movie Crush Groove Two that is currently in preproduction, memories flicked through King Trick’s mind when asked about the methods in which music was distributed back in 1985. His knee-jerk response was, “Wow… you are talking brick and mortar days right there.”  Trick said one of the major differences, besides the emphasis strictly on physical sales, was the money record labels allocated towards artist development that no longer exists in today’s economic climate.  “Motown was a good example of a label that had the premier concept of developing artists,” King said. “The more education you got, the stronger your craft was going to be from a standpoint of songwriting, writing songs for artists, getting them on the road, and putting them on tours. The most important thing they did was polish their product and essentially test market it.”   Not only were companies spending money for artist development, but they were also distributing advances to acts that had potential. That has become the responsibility of independent labels or major label subsidiaries today.

The first major shift of the industry

With traditional revenue-sharing models and artist development remaining fairly stagnant throughout the mainstream of record labels during the 80s, the hip hop movement that developed in the late 1970s as a major underground circuit became more organized with labels such as Def Jam emerging. The main shift in music occurred with the underground movements who changed the nature of the traditional methods of standard operating procedures for the record labels.   “I think the biggest shift is when independent companies started to gain a voice,” King Trick said. “I think you can attribute a lot of that to the rap industry of the underground in the 80s. Then, when the internet became part of the program, independents began to rule the day. Suddenly, that destroyed the corporate structure in music.”  The movements also developed a style of marketing for specific demographics that fragmented listening audiences forever. “The original “brick and mortar” rock was big. Then you figured the underground scene really developed in a big way, and funk was probably the predecessor of that. You even can go all the way back to the ‘chitlin circuit’ and punk circuit of the late 60s and 70s. That was really the grass roots of guerrilla marketing,” King said.

Too many artists, not enough recipes

With Napster developing and illegal downloading increasing in the late 1990s, the corporate world, with all their money and resources, experienced a phenomenon that they were unprepared for. The music industry’s talent pool became saturated and watered down due to a multitude of tools available to promote yourself on the internet, . King said he felt that the cream will eventually rise to the top again with new distribution methods such as streaming. King believes this will create more opportunities for the corporate structure and independents with strong marketing and promotions to properly market their artists, and the fundamental elements of music that took a backseat to the bottom line will return.   “I think the new method will be a beautiful thing,” King said. “You are going to start having to give a portion of your music away and deal on the true side of being an artist to get your money. This includes doing live performance, and being able to dance, sing and play an instrument. The rest of the group that isn’t as talented will be forced to get the day jobs they really should have been getting from the beginning.”In order to market his own projects, Trick is working with one of the pioneers of the internet, Harold Wahey.  “You are talking about the online world becoming similar to the movie The Matrix, with a lot of people whose lives are becoming more dependent on the online world,” said King Trick. “You are talking about our whole lives being involved more to what will eventually evolve into a virtual world. There are Realtors right now selling virtual property and making 400,000 a year in real money. If you analyze those circumstances with more and more people online, and taking a look at streaming video and music, you can even take a look one step further. In the future, music will be selling merchandise for their acts designed to their virtual character. Going to a virtual concert is something I forsee. With this real technology coming in, it will put an emphasis on parts of music that have been lacking, like live performance with singing and dance. Music, such as life, will come full circle 360 degrees.”