WTF Happened to Black Music? The Revolution

In 1983, 90% of American media was owned by 50 companies. Today, six media giants control 90% of what we read, watch, or listen to (see below). This has a profound effect on the music that we get to hear.

The Revolution - Prince Tribute Concert

Everybody’s looking 4 the answers
How the story started and how it will end
What’s the use in half a story, half a dream
U have 2 climb all of the steps in between (yeah, we ride)
Everybody’s looking 4 the ladder
Everybody wants salvation of the soul
The steps U take are no easy road (the steps you take are no easy road)
(it’s not that easy)
But the reward is great
4 those who want 2 go (I do)
~ Prince
“[Prince] helped so many people. Most people don’t know that. He wanted to keep his charitable activities a secret. He wanted to keep his passion for underprivileged people between him and his god.”
Peace is more the absence of war

“We spent hours talking about [Prince’s] concerns about technology and getting those skills to inner city youth.”
Prince was a great musician

“Prince came in, and he said to the labels, ‘Do not try to just put me with the urban group; I want the world. I want to be with the pop staff. I’m going to make rock and roll, as well as soul, as well as funk…I don’t want to just go to Soul Train, I don’t want to just open up for Rick James, I want to be on Dick Clark.’”

A couple of years ago, while watching Steve Stoute’s The Tanning of AmericaI also recalled a story done by WNYC’s Soundcheck “There Were No Black Artists With Number One Singles in 2013.” Then I thought…
Is Steve Stoute celebrating the fact that Black culture is great except for the Black people?
Tanning of America

In THE TANNING OF AMERICA: How the Culture of Hip-Hop Rewrote the Rules of the New Economy (Gotham Books; On-Sale 9-8-11), Stoute draws from his diverse background in the music industry and brand marketing to chronicle how an upstart art form – street poetry set to beats – came to define urban culture as the embodiment of cool. Steve Stoute’s understanding of how hip-hop morphed into mainstream culture enabled him to relate to a new generation of thinking, which catapulted him to the forefront of pop culture – where he still remains today.

The Telecommunications Act of 1996 was signed into law by President Bill Clinton, allowing media cross-ownership and also allowing broadcast companies to own an unlimited number of radio stations.
This Act had a profound effect on African-American media ownership. In 1995, there were 146 radio stations in America owned by African Americans. In 2012, there were only 68.
In 2006, there were just 18 Black-owned commercial TV stations in 2006, about 2 percent of the overall total. In 2012 there were five, and by 2013 there were zero.
This wave of media consolidation also struck Black music hard when in 2001, Viacom brought Black Entertainment Television (BET) for $3 billion. BET was the first Black-controlled company listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
Music videos became the dominant way to promote music and for many years MTV played very few music videos from Black artists. During that time BET was the main outlet for music videos by Black artists.
Over ten years ago, before Facebook, the publisher of Pistis, Terrance Jackson had the idea of developing a social media platform that integrated music and broadcast television. This idea led to the development of a television show called Live From VA that interviewed such guests as: Academy Award winner Mo’NiqueRussell Simmons & Rev RunKanye WestPharell Willams & Chad Hugo (the Neptunes), and Katt Williams.
One of the frequent guests of Live From VA [LFV] was Kanye West. LFV first interviewed Kanye at a Norfolk hotel here he was performing. The venue capacity was less than 200. The next LFV interview was in Hampton where he perform at the Mercury Entertainment Center, a venue with a much bigger capacity but the crowd was no larger than 300 people.

The next interview was at his sold out performance at the Norva. After the Norva, Kanye West performed at the Hampton Coliseum opening for Usher.

These experiences planted the seeds for The Revolution which will be featured in the documentary I Could Be….
I Could Be...
Black Artists in Billboard Year-End Hot 20 singles of 2013

Rihanna feat. Mikky Ekko "Stay"

#13 Rihanna feat. Mikky Ekko “Stay”

Black Artists in Billboard Year-End Hot 20 singles of 1992

Boyz II Men “End of the Road”

#1 Boyz II Men “End of the Road”

Sir Mix-a-Lot “Baby Got Back”

#2 Sir Mix-a-Lot “Baby Got Back”

Vanessa Williams "Save the Best for Last"

#4 Vanessa Williams “Save the Best for Last”

TLC "Baby Baby Baby"

#5 TLC “Baby Baby Baby”

En Vogue "My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It)"

#7 En Vogue “My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It)”

Shanice "I Love Your Smile"

#11 Shanice “I Love Your Smile”

Michael Jackson "Black or White"

#14 Michael Jackson “Black or White”

Mariah Carey "I'll Be There"

#16 Mariah Carey “I’ll Be There”

Michael Jackson "Remember The Time"

#19 Michael Jackson “Remember The Time”

Ce Ce Peniston "Finally"

#20 Ce Ce Peniston “Finally”

Illusion of Choice


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