Chuck D has reacted to the departure of Jay Z from Def Jam by dragging out his cv and making clear he'd like the job. Depressingly, he starts by saying that he's got plans for Universal to "establish the name-brands they acquire with their stockholder's money", which is hardly the most exciting call-to-arms we've heard.
D has a four-point plan to reinvigorate the business:
It's a good point, although... isn't it a little late? The time to have been ahead of the curve would have been in 1998. In 2007, you're going to have to catch up, rather than expect to be a leader.
Well, again, it's a good point - but "make money instead of losing it" isn't a prescription for Def Jam, is it? It's a what, not a how.
"Run it like sports"? What, stuff the drummer full of steroids and hope nobody finds out?
For all his talk of being ahead of things, D shows himself to be adrift here - he's thinking in terms of live performances driving physical sales rather than, as the new world is shaping up to be, physical product selling tickets for gigs. The idea of "coaching" bands to play well live isn't a bad one, but how does a record label - with 100 years of experience of making studio recordings - convince an artist they've got the skills to do that? If the labels are merely going to subcontract this role to people who know what they're doing, why wouldn't an artist merely employ these brainstrusts themselves instead of letting Def Jam topslice the fee?
Again, it's a splendid idea: don't let your roster get clouded up with people more interested in guns and feuds than making music. It's a bloody good policy. But that would mean having the confidence to walk away from artists the label has been pumping stockholders money into, without any return. While morally unquestionable, it's questionable how many write-offs Universal would be able to bear.
Perhaps D has more detail on his ideas that he's saving for interview, though.
[Thanks to Barry S for the story]