Lyor Cohen says artists don't need record labels any more

“I don’t know what the definition of a label should be. I know what it once was, but it’s no longer. The artists don’t need them in that capacity anymore.” Lyor Cohen, the one-time head of Warner Music, told Complex.

Since leaving Warner, Cohen has set up his own project, 300 Entertainment, that boasts Fetty Wap, Young Thug and Migos as just a few of its artists.

For a long time Cohen was seen as the man pulling the strings behind the scenes in the music industry – setting up Run DMC’s deal with adidas, signing Jay Z, dropping Jay Z, allegedly convincing Def Jam to split from Sony and encouraging Thug to put time into his public persona. Here are just a few of his thoughts on the music industry today.

On exclusives

“I don’t believe in exclusives. I think it’s damaging to our industry. I believe in ubiquity. I don’t think streaming services should win or get a leg up because they have an exclusive… When one has an exclusive or another has an exclusive, it’s interrupting the process of paid subscription. And I don’t like it.”

On artists who reject the industry

“I applaud them. It makes a whole lot of sense. I think it’s unbelievable. I don’t know what the definition of a label should be. I know what it once was, but it’s no longer. The artists don’t need them in that capacity anymore.”

On aspiring artists

“Be certain you love it, because that could help fuel you to survive the very low moments. Very few people actually can feed their families in the creative arts business. If you really love it, you will tolerate the suffering that you need to go through.”

On how 300 differs to traditional labels

“300 offers a more boutique experience. There’s no taking a ticket and waiting in line. It offers consistent presence of the principles. It offers capital. It offers a sounding board of professionals who have done this for quite some time. It offers unique opportunities and not cookie-cutter deals that aren’t imaginative.”

Be sure to read the full interview here.

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