Russell Simmons launches new record label, All Def Music

Russell Simmons, along with Loud Records founder and SRC Records CEO Steve Rifkind and television executive Brian Robbins, is launching a new record label called All Def Music. According to reports, All Def will be a unique, YouTube-centered label, using the popular online video site for the promotion and development of artists. Via a partnership with UMG, they will also launch ADD (All Def Digital) management. Rifkind will serve as the CEO of ADM and ADD Management.

“How [Russell] built Def Jam and how I built Loud was through the streets and through grass-roots marketing,” Rifkind said in an interview with the LA Times. “Cut to 20 years later, we’re applying this same formula, this same blueprint, using YouTube as our street team, using YouTube as our A&R source, using YouTube as our branding machine.”

“I wake up at 4:30 or 5 in the morning, ready to work,” he shared. “I haven’t been this excited [in years].” UMG president Lucian Grainge issued a statement regarding this latest endeavor and the implementing of a new business model.

“The exponential growth of Internet-based video has created a powerful new outlet for music and music-based content, and the launch of All Def Music is a part of our broader strategy to partner with some of the most experienced entrepreneurs in media and technology to identify future stars and develop powerful content on the world’s fastest growing media platform,” Grainge said.

Grainge also wrote a lengthy email to the Universal family, sharing his excitement over working with Simmons again, following his successful stint as founder of Def Jam Recordings.

“It is truly a thrill to be able to welcome Russell back to our family. As one of the founders of Def Jam with Rick Rubin (whose American Recordings is a part of Republic Records), Russell and Rick created an iconic brand that forms part of the foundation of [Universal Music Group] and a label that has had a profound impact on popular culture,” wrote Grainge.

“I can’t say enough about how highly we think of Russell both professionally — his vision and entrepreneurial talents are legendary — and personally. He is a rare treasure,” read the email. “And with Brian’s track record on the content side and Steve’s on the business side, they make a formidable team.”


Quincy Jones launches music education application

quincyjonesAtlanta, GA — Quincy Jones says he has co-created the music version of Rosetta Stone.

The 79-year-old composer-producer launched a new music education application Tuesday called Playground Sessions, which teaches users how to play the piano. He said the app will help children and adults learn how to read music and understand the mechanics of piano playing.

There’s “such a need for this,” Jones said in an interview last week. “The concept is brand-new. I have been praying for this for a long time. It has a learning concept similar to Rosetta Stone. I’m blown away by this.” Playground Sessions is a musical app with real-time feedback and video tutorials from pianist David Sides. It features about 70 popular songs by Beyonce and Justin Bieber, and well-known tunes like Katy Perry’s “Firework” and Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York.”

Jones, who produced Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and other successful albums, hopes Playground Sessions will have an impact on music education programs in schools around the world. One of first schools that will use the app is Jones’ alma mater, Garfield High School in Seattle. “Our kids in this country know less than any other country,” Jones said of music education in the United States. “We need something like Playground Sessions to push us forward.” Chris Vance, who co-created the app and founded Playground Sessions, got together with Jones more than a year ago after working alone on the application for three years. He said Jones immediately saw a vision for the product and wanted to make learning music a fun experience.

Vance also said Sides was an easy pick when he was selecting a pianist for the project. Jones calls Sides a very talented piano player who has an engaging personality. “I wish I had someone like him teaching me how to play the piano,” Jones said of Sides, known for his popular piano covers on YouTube, including his rendition of OneRepublic’s “Apologize,” which has garnered more than 10 million views.

Go For It… Anything is Possible




  Over twenty one years in the industry and Twinkie is still a viable force for entertainment.Everyone knows the world of entertainment  is one of the hardest industries to break into and it’s even harder to stay on top once you are there. Twinkie has managed to do it all! However, one question still remains, who is the woman behind it all? Twinkie is a mentor, a speaker, a motivator, a leader, and inspirational pillar. She manages to juggle all this under the umbrella of casting, becoming one of Hollywood’s most sought after casting directors.

    Her latest project is currently “Jumping the Broom” starring Paula Patton, Angela Basset, and  Laz Alonso who is also currently on “Breakout Kings” where she demonstrates yet another remarkable example of the craft casting. What makes Tracy stand our from other casting directors is she has a good ear for listening to what the director wants as well as a great eye for talent.

    She truly knows the difference between and actor and artist. An artist is some who can approach a role with no judgments and find the humanity in each character and bring it to life. An artist, can draw you in through the camera in an instant, find the hidden message behind any character, and create a hypnotic methodical dance through their performancethat allows the artist and the audience to discover themselves and characters simultaneously. It takes a skilled eye of a professional casting director to recognize that potential in five minutes.

    Her wealth of knowledge, wisdom and discernment sums up a golden ticket in surviving in this industry. She not only shows you how to reach your dreams but also how to keep them alive once you get them!

   When she isn’t casting the latest project or mentoring, she lends her time to speaking at events around the community where she shines her light yet again. Here’s what one event attendee had to say, “Tracy, what inspired me the most about you is your just ‘GO for it’ attitude and ANYTHING is possible! That just gave me confirmation that I’m not crazy for doing what I’m doing in this industry, and it makes me excited for what’s to come for me”, Issac Lucas.

    Did you know that when Twinkie first started out she booked castings from a pay phone? She didn’t even have her own place to live yet but she made sure she invested everything she had into what she wanted to become. That’s what Twinkie is all about investing in yourself through research, studying your craft, and then going for it full force!

   We can learn so much from Twinkie through the quality of her work and her infectious personality. She has so much light to shine you would be crazy to put on your shades!

Hospitality in the music industry? Of course….

What is industry hospitality?
This may seem like a new word to you but it all steams from the word hospitality. According to the dictionary, hospitality is the relationship between a guest and a host, or the act or practice of being hospitable.
Most people in the industry don’t even know that there is a such thing as hospitality in the music industry. We get so caught up with religion and emotions that we fail to learn how to truly treat one another. So are you saying there is a certain that I as an artist should treat others? Yes, there is. Are you saying that there is a certain way to treat entertainers using them for my event or function? Yes, there is. No one wants to be treated in a way that devalues their talent or puts them in an inferior position, but the trick is that it has to come from the guest as well as from the host.  To the people who look for the service of the artist, you are  the host.  Artists, when you perform a service for a host, you are a guest. This week we will discuss several stories of our clients and what they have gone through in their experience in the industry as a guest and as a host.

Music industry collapsing?


Does this topic make you think? I mean, the music industry is a very large and established industry to just say it is now collapsing and will be dwindling away very soon, but there is great news. That is not the case here folks. It may actually seem like every industry is hurting due to our ‘so-called recession’ but believe it or not things are really starting to pick back up like never before. The great news is that digital sales are continually rising every year in music industry and even though album sales are still down at a low, people are always looking for the next big song. Let’s face it, we love music and we love to karaoke to our favorite tune, whether it be in the shower, the club or the church. Music will forever be around and for some reason will actually become even more popular according to several music research companies.

According to, 66 million digital albums were sold online in 2008. Ringtones downloads have skyrocketed to an all time high and people are just not feeling like getting in their car, driving to the store and waiting in long lines just to buy a cd anymore. It’s all at their fingertips, which brings us to online revenues in the music industry. Its amazing but here goes. US Recording Industry Revenues from Online (2006-2011) $1.1 billion(2006), $1.7 billion (2007), $2.2 billion(2008), $2.5 billion(2009), $2.8 billion(2010) and $3.0 billion(2011). Okay, do you get the picture? There is an increase in sale projections every year since 2006 in revenue from online sales, which menas every year for the last five years, people have been more prone to purchase or download an album on the internet in the comfort of their location and would rather just burn it onto a cd or add to their favorite mix tape of other hits.

Now, here’s the shocking part.

US Recording Industry Revenues from Physical (meaning on hand/in store, etc) (2006-2011)$9.7 billion(2006), $9.1 billion (2007), $8.0 billion(2008), $7.1billion(2009), $6.4 billion(2010) and $5.7 billion (2011). Are you getting this picture? Sales are continually decreasing every year in physical store revenue. I am not posting this to scare you but just to educate you because we all can learn a little more everyday about what is going on in the world and since we are in the music business, these statistics become instrumental to a company’s future goals, strategies, projections and more as they plan for years to come.

Now let’s face it, you’re never gonna stop buying music. The day that happens is the day African Americans start populating to China and we know that ain’t gone never happen, but its interesting to see the things that we love so much, how they take their form in society. Give us your thoughts, ideas, concerns, suggestions and look out for the next blog. We’ll be discussing the music industry in the urban communities like r&b, jazz, gospel and pop. Where is it going for years to come and is it something that we need? Until then, Expect a Miracle!

Welcome to the RKD Music Industry Blog

RKD Music Industry Blog is a typical blog that discusses issues, facts, concerns, stories and everything that has to do with the music industry. It is intended to spread the knowledge and uplift consumers as well as movers and shakers of the industry. As we proceed to give you what you need, please feel free to share your comments, thoughts, ideas, suggestions and concerns about the music industry that surrounds us.  RKD Music Industry blog is a branch of RKD Music Management, a premiere music and now talent management company serving the industry at large.