Are blood or crips, probably one of the gangs that have been on the urban scene and sometimes affected artists’ careers what color they had. Even in Sweden, gangs influence the choice of artists in the urban rap scene, but the Swedish gangs usually have the silliest names, like Shottas, Killer Patrol, Foxtrot, or The Strawberry. I don’t know why they took the names out of 80:s The Warriors movie or some new stupid candy flavor.
That is not what I really going to write about. What is interesting is how the criminality has organized themselves. Instead like in the 80s there was a crime family that controlled almost all aspects of the criminal ways to make money. Here you had crime families or gangs like The Gambinos, Hells Angels, and Lucchese. Today the big families are not there they are replaced with more loose networks with people who work together in different projects. You hire the person you need for your operation and it’s all about networks and loyalty is only if you make money out of the project. Also, the threshold to get in is much smaller, you don’t have to work yourself up like in the old days.
I guess structure-wise we can see the big record labels as these family/gang-run entities. You had Universal, Sony, Warner, Virgin, EMI, BMG. They controlled all aspects of an artist’s career forty years ago by owning both the distribution as well as radio and the fans and much more. In reality, as a young thug or musician, you couldn’t make a serious career without being part of the bigger gangs.
The interesting part now is how the last leg of the criminal world also comes to the music business in a structured way. The big old structures are too few and they have stopped to control anything important. The only thing they have is a back catalogue and they will make a fine profit out of that, so they won’t disappear. They have no say or power in what it’s on its way. That is now being replaced by lost networks of people for each project.
Just the past month I have been invited to several of these new “gangs” in the music industry. Like the gangsters, they also have network names, not as silly as the Swedish gangs, but yes, they have names. They also have a loose set of rules. Some even have quite sophisticated homepages with even members section and search functions. And of course, with all this, you also have your turf wars where they accuse each other of stealing members to their different projects. Some also try to protect their networks, but I have a harder time seeing that succeeding. Right now, you are not bigger than your last job, and if you fit into the structure.
The future will be about the network. You will have kingpins with large networks that can transform an artist’s career and steer it through the noise in the world. You will have people who are experts in certain things, like recording, distribution, marketing, branding, and so on. Instead of the artist saying that they are signed to a certain record label they rather say that they were working on a certain network. Already you see that the credibility of an artist has nothing to do with their steaming number, it’s almost all about who is behind it and the expectations of what the network can do.