Drake vs. Universal Music Group

  • Save

There’s been a war inside major labels since the 90s, and now, it’s pitting Drake against Universal Music Group.

“Universal needs to stop taking my f-ing songs down,” Drake agro-tweeted on Thursday. “I am doing this for the people not for your label.”

What we’re witnessing is a massive marketing machine fighting itself: Drake’s team is seeding and leaking content ahead of his upcoming album release; UMG is yanking the stuff down and threatening people.  See the problem here?

Well, it’s a problem that’s existed since the days of Napster, especially in hip-hop.  Rap promoters understand the importance of leaks, pre-release mixtapes, and street-level build, yet the RIAA seems to harbor a completely opposite marketing ideology.  A label-level, urban marketing executive is gratified to score a track on a DJ Drama mixtape; the RIAA was just as excited to raid Drama’s headquarters.

The same dynamic applies to hip-hop community OnSmash (onsmash.com), which was recently yanked down in a coordinated raid that included – get this – the US Department of Homeland Security.  But the urban marketing executives we talked to were pissed to see their promotional outlet torpedoed.

Then there’s the question of who you’re getting in bed with.  As in, didn’t Drake sign up for this sort of ‘misunderstanding’ when he signed the contract?  This is an artist that’s been blanketed across traditional airwaves, and for the most part, that’s nearly impossible without major label guns.

Can you really have it both ways?