Russell Simmons, one of the founders of hip-hop behind such acts as LL Cool J and the Beastie Boys, is getting back into the music business after more than a decade “sitting on the sidelines.” And he’s getting back in a big way to take advantage of what’s arguably become the most powerful showcase for music on the planet — YouTube.
Simmons’s latest venture, a YouTubemultichannel network called All Def Digital — which he and business partner Brian Robbinsannounced at the Consumer Electronics Show in January but which has yet to officially launch — has teamed up with Universal Music Group to create a new label, All Def Music. When it rolls out later this summer, All Def Music will become the first label created to discover and develop artists on YouTube that’s tied to one of the majors, a move that Universal’s CEO is betting will go down as a key moment for his company.
“Finding new artists in different ways and in different places has to be the common denominator of what we do,” said Lucian Grainge, the chairman and chief executive officer of Universal Music Group. “It’s our cardiac function, what keeps the blood pumping. …We believe that we can add a new dimension and bring something new in the same way that the talent contests did a decade ago.”
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