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NEAR TRUTHS: PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE

John Janick’s Interscope, Monte Lipman’s Republic, Steve Barnett’s Capitol and Peter Edge’s RCA have been fueling marketshare and revenue with huge streaming records for some time now. It should be emphasized that building and scaling up this kind of label operation takes time—and all four spent some time in the workshop before it all came together.

Each label boss had to figure out how to make the sausage and struggled some while doing so. Each had to assess what wasn’t working in their ecosystem—as the goalposts kept moving. Each had down years; each built his company on a foundation that preceded him and underwent considerable experimentation in pursuit of a winning formula. Each one had powerful mentors (such as Jimmy Iovine, Doug Morris, Dave Glew, Lucian Grainge and Clive Davis), built strong support teams and had smart, motivational corporate management to execute his vision. Look at each of their stories to understand how hard they’ve worked—and continue to work—to make their companies as highly competitive as they are.

Much of the current field consists of labels that are still ramping up: the Bay-Schuck/Corson dyad at Warner Bros., the Rosenberg regime at Def Jam, the Ron Perry experience at Columbia, the Darcus Beese team at Island. Not to mention well-capitalized startups run by successful veterans, such as Morris’ 12Tone, L.A. Reid’s Hitco and David Massey’s rebooted Arista. All are making moves; Perry, for one, has a very big record with Lil Nas X. But it definitely takes more than a minute—or a year—to figure out how to create a real label culture and a functioning artist roster. In two or three years we’ll see how their stories played out.

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