Snoop Dogg had some choice words about the “fucked up” streaming models that have led the Writers Guild of America to go on strike over compensation.
“[Artists] need to figure it out the same way the writers are figuring it out,” Snoop said during a panel on Wednesday with Shirley Halperin, Variety‘s executive music editor, and Gamma’s Larry Jackson, his co-panelist and business partner. “The writers are striking because [of] streaming, they can’t get paid. Because when it’s on the platform, it’s not like in the box office.”
He continued, “I don’t understand how the fuck you get paid off of that shit. Somebody explain to me how you can get a billion streams and not get a million dollars?… That’s the main gripe with a lot of us artists is that we do major numbers… but it don’t add up to the money. Like where the fuck is the money?”
Much of the conversation, which took place at Milken Institutes’ Global Conference, revolved around Jackson’s newly launched Gamma business and its significant investment in Vydia — its digital distribution arm which established a major foothold in Africa in 2017 and is slated to rebrand as Gamma Distribution in the coming months.
Gamma’s entrance into Africa and the Middle East includes the appointment of Sipho Dlamini as the new president of the regions. He most recently held the position of CEO of Universal Music South Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa, after four years as managing director. Naomi Campbell has also been named special advisor of Africa and the Middle East.
Gamma’s partnership with Snoop involves the exclusive rights to market and distribute the Death Row Records catalog. “Snoop could’ve gone to any three of [the major labels]… but [he] would be getting paid on a biannual basis. But now [that Gamma] has the… financial analytics dashboard, we’re paying Snoop once a month,” Jackson told the room. “There are certain artists that are coming to our distribution company and getting paid once a week — you gotta understand how revolutionary this is, this doesn’t exist in the music business like this.”
Jackson also singled out the issue of royalty rates and streams on YouTube Shorts. “Right now the distribution company, we’re doing about 5 billion streams across all platforms in the entire world every single month… we actually had our best months ever at Spotify and Apple for April for the third consecutive month… 500 million of those streams are being done through YouTube Shorts. So when I hear the earnings report last week for Alphabet, and they’re talking about how much they want to accelerate the growth of YouTube Shorts, it was a bit concerning to me.”
“Guess how much money we made for those 500 million streams from YouTube Shorts?” Jackson asked the crowd, before revealing that it was $16,000.
Snoop’s response? “YouTube, y’all motherfuckers need to break bread or fake dead.”
On the issue of artificial intelligence and music, Jackson said there “are a lot of useful ways to leverage it,” like the “predictive data insights” that inform users how much artists generate hourly — “that’s not something we’re going to be able to get from the DSPS,” he said.
Elsewhere, Jackson reminisced on the early heydays of streaming in 2014 and 2015. “We started working with Drake and the Weekend and it was really difficult to convince people that streaming was going to become the new medium,” he said. “But Drake and the Weeknd believed and at that point, with Drake, it was really like Michael Jackson getting on MTV for the first time in 1982 — It was a game changer.”
Snoop also gave plenty of teasers about his on-screen projects including his role in MGM and Amazon’s upcoming sports comedy film “The Underdoggs,” and his upcoming biopic with Universal Pictures. When asked about unscripted entertainment, Snoop slyly confirmed that’s also in the works.
“We slated to get it rocking and rolling… after the strike, I guess,” he said.