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Hip-Hop Killed Rock Music (Commentary from Bill Curtis of the Fatback Band)

Fatback Band Update  One of the things that I like best about the current age of the internet is that more and more artists are using the power of the internet to directly express their perspectives on the music, past present & future. They now have the ability to address music fans directly, without the need for any "third party filters," who often have an agenda. This is something that I have long encouraged and hopefully we will see even more of this happening over time.

This commentary is from our friend Bill Curtis, the legendary founder of the Fatback Band. If anyone has the "cred" to make a commentary on hip hop it's Bill. After all the Fatback Band's hit song "King Tim III" is generally acknowledged as the very first hip hop recording. And of course I would strongly encourage you to communicate directly with Bill via his website ( or Twitter/Facebook.-- (Bob Davis)

Hip-Hop Killed Rock Music (Commentary from Bill Curtis of the Fatback

Hip Hop killed Rock music. I know a few of you out there won't admit it, but it did; sale wise. The down fall started in 1998 with Rap, Hip Hop is a spinoff of Rap. Nine out of the top fifteen pop albums was Rap. Ten years ago the white teenagers were into Rock big time. Rock was their thing. Now they are down loading Hip Hop. Percentage wise, Hip Hop has outpaced all genre of music in the last few years and is still growing.

Music, if you look back in history, has always set the pace of the period of what was going in the world. Jazz is called an America culture, but it was really a Black Culture. The 20's had it fashion and jazz dancing. Jazz had a great influence within the Black community during the Harlem Renaissance period. It was redefining the Black America Culture, "The New Blacks," one that was proud of his African Heritage. Jazz then did what Hip Hop is doing now, crossing over all ethnic boundaries. Jazz put Harlem on the map for Black entertainment.

Today when foreign tourists visit New York, one of the first places they want to visit was Harlem. During the Renaissance most all the patron at that time was white and the entertainers were all Black. When the white musicians started interpreting jazz and claiming it as their own, they made more money than the black musicians who was playing the real jazz. You get where I'm coming from won't even going into that ----.

Then out of jazz came the swing era, from swing came Bebop music. Oh yea, let's not forget, R & B. All of these were Black influence culture changes. What made Hip Hop different; it was expressing what was going on in the Black community. All the violence, crimes, drug stories and police brutality; they were able to put in a rhythmic form with a beat. This is what Rap was about before it went gangster.

Hip Hop has unified the youth worldwide in fashion, slang and music. It has crossed all ethnic boundaries rich and poor. Hip Hop is big!! All of this came out of the Black youth neighborhood streets of New York, to suburbs, and to corporate America. I still remember the first time I heard it, we were playing a block party in the Bronx. Rap wasn't new to me, but the subject matter was. How they rapped about everyday life in a form that was entertaining and exciting was new. I never dreamed it would be as popular as it is now.

About 75 percent of the Rap and Hip Hop audience are nonblack. Not only Blacks are doing Hip Hop music, you have White, Asian, and Latino. Just about every nationality is into Hip Hop.

Let's not forget about Hip Hop fashion styles which came out the prison system. You see, they were not allowed to have belts and shoes laces. So when guys came back from prison they continue to wear their pants with no belts and shoes untied.

I know all this isn't new to you, but I wanted you to know it hasn't changed that much. The power of music, if used in a positive way, can make a change, just like it has in the past. Music connects ethnic groups together and can build bridges for racial harmony to make the world a better place to live, if we just let it. I love the power of music.

On March 21, 1952 my late friend Paul (Hucklebucker) Williams played the first all-black R&B concert of this kind, paving the way for all of the festivals that came after it. Two-thirds of audience was white, a first at that time. That's the power of music!

--Bill Curtis
--Bob Davis

Blues, Hip Hop and Soul Music Director

Spotify + Funk Church + Connecting with the People (Guest Commentary From Bill Curtis of the Fatback Band)

Fatback Band Update  Here is our friend Bill Curtis of the Fatback Band once again with a slammin commentary. Just for you folks out there who love Spotify so much and for you artists out there who think that somehow "you are above it all."

Also here is a free download from Bill/Fatback of their new single: "CAN YOU FEEL THE RHYTHM?"

"Summertime is girl-watching time. I'm gonna watch 'em, baby. I haven't lost my eyes for them big-butt girls. I like the girls, y'all." A little tune we did back in the days is still a great dance song. Go to, that is where you will find all of our albums, if anyone is interested.

Hey I want to remind you not to add Spotify play Buttons to your Facebook page, Twitter, tumbir blog, etc. I 'm not a lover of Spotify, because it doesn't pay the artist that much money. If you are an artist it takes 200 streams equal one iTunes download and one to three years to get paid. To me, Spotify is just another great way to get rich off of the artist and songwriters. I have nothing against people making as much money as they can, but not at the expense of others. But, they keep telling you it's better than piracy, you're getting something, 0.04cent per stream. Well, you are right, but you can't make a livelihood off that. My question is why everyone gets paid decent money except the creator and the artist. Tech-slavery is what I call it.

But one good thing, you don't have to do it if you don't want too. Putting Spotify play buttons on your page is giving free advertisement to Spotify and Facebook. Once you get a fan to your page, you have a potential sale. Someone might just buy your stuff. If you want to send them somewhere else, send them where they pay more. To your download
site: iTunes, Tunecore, Amazon. Spotify pays a fraction of a penny. I could see if they were paying you to put their button on or giving you something for pointing a potential customer their way. We have got to get smart and stop falling for that Bull s---. You know how they feel about us.

I haven't heard of any major yet stepping up to the plate to bat for the artist or express any concern that they feel our rates are to low. On their end, they are getting paid big time and keeping it on the down-low. Hey, I'm not saying you don't need Facebook page, apps, Twitter accounts and blogs. However, you do not need to point your fans to places only paying a fractions of a penny. Your own site is very valuable property where you sell and do business. You have your fans in your store who dig your music and want to know about you. Okay they say Spotify is better than piracy, well it might be so, I'm gonna tell you this. Piracy is one of the best free advertisements you can get in the world, one thing they don't piracy junk.

I hear and read about the state of Black music culture or Black Music, whatever. Maybe they are talking about the commercial side. Yes, I do think Black music(funk), is on the decline on the so call "pop or commercial music. The funk it is alive and well in the Churches. If you want to hear good funk go to church or listen to gospel radio, its there. That's where our music culture started. Black music has always been an experience, just like the church. When we go to concerts that's what we looking for that one time experience. Something we can talk about the next few days. tell your friends what they missed that's what made the early Black Entertainer connect so well. They took their church experiences to the stage and build on that. I often tell people there was a very thin line between James Brown and a country preacher.

Some of our new and upcoming Entertainers need to go and check out that experience that I'm talking about( got to find the right church). I guarantee you will be talking about it to your friends the next day. This is what today's audiences are looking for, that experience. They want to be involved. Back in the days in my Hometown when I was growing up I knew most of the acts that came to town I had met them before and they knew me, (they act like they did). They stayed in the hood, ate in the local café and you could walk up and talk to them. And when they took a break, they were out in the audience, (maybe because there were no dressing rooms), talking and going on. As a Entertainer you got to get back to that kind of thing. The people want to know about you. YOU want them to, so they can go and tell others. Everyone wants to be involved they want to have that one time experience.

Ok, if you don't believe me go to Church and get your groove on, come back and tell me about your experience.

Hey, if you want to lose some of those pounds you are carrying around and stay healthy at the same time and make money take a look at We are doing it over here, it works. If you want know more email me


Also here is a free download from Bill/Fatback of their new single: "CAN YOU FEEL THE RHYTHM?"

--Bill Curtis
--Bob Davis

Blues, Hip Hop and Soul Music Director

Crossroads (Commentary from Bill Curtis of the Fatback Band)

Fatback Band Update

Where are we now? From what I see we are at the cross roads. Which path do you want to take? Like more of us, you have tried them all and none of them really worked as a real benefit for created artist especially for the musicians. They have created all of these platforms, claiming that they are helping us, but in the meantime their pockets are getting so fat. Oh yes we have more control, we are on an equal playing field...On a field where they have devastated our music to the extent that we can't make a living in the playing field. We are seeing now a 360'degree turn around and how it all started.

You see, once upon time, we controlled all of our music. When I say we, I mean black music. We managed and booked our own right from Harlem...the Rhythm club (Google it). If anyone wanted black music or entertainers they had to come uptown to Harlem to hire them or you had to call the club. They booked all over and they had the control.

Joe Glaser saw a great opportunity to introduce black entertainment to the "white world" and also to control it. He persuaded a few at first to come with him downtown , but Jimmy Lunceford and few more thought it would be end of their control and also felt like it wasn't a good idea. They talked against going downtown. Joe ended up pulling everyone downtown with him. He had most all top black Entertainers at that time. That was the beginning of the end of our control and the beginning of the middleman.

Black Entertainers built Associated Booking Corporation (A.B.C.), the agency that Joe Glaser owned. Joe did a lot great things to bring Black entertainment to forefront and to the world...even long after some of their careers were over, Joe still looked out for them.

Now that we are back in control, somewhat, so what are we going to do? We got all these things at our finger tips and none of them really work to generate any real income for us. The social media (facebook, myspace) is not what you think. That's created just for gossip and not about music. Maybe one day it will be more music friendly and youtube is your best bet right now. The old fashion way is still the best way to get your music out there and, sending files and word of mouth, is still king. Radio is losing it power but it could be more effective if it could get out of the past. I am not saying forget about the past but you got to make radio more exciting One thing they should do is lets stations create their own format for there own community, put it back in jocks hand. Why should I have to paid, to get good radio? Radio should be the place to discover new music.

Right now the only place you can hear new music is online (internet) radio. It's our life line to world and it's free. I feel like one day this will be the media for music. As long as they keep the music and the people frist.

Whatever path you choose you can't do it alone, you got to have a team. In the old days, you had a record company, an agent and very few, sometimes had managers. In the new music industry, you need a specialist, legal advisor, an agency or promoter and a manager. That's if you have gotten yourself in that position. You have to build your community up to where you have about 30,000 or more. That's why I said you can't be just good; you got to be great! I know you're saying to yourself... if I have that many supporters, why do I need anyone? Now you have bargaining power, you didn't come to the table empty handed. The record company has that infrastructure that the internet doesn't have, yet now you have the power to demand what you want or you can walk.

Now the question is when do I get this team? You will know when you have something that is different and your community is telling everyone about you and they can't wait until your next release. When you play, they bring other people and pack the house. When they purchase all CD's you brought with you and your merchandise. Now you're ready for the next level. You are not a star, but you know where you going.

Hey, Spotify never said they were Artist friendly. In 2008, when they were founded, it was to combat piracy. They have paid the labels over $250 million for licensing of our music when they know damn well the artist ain't gonna see any of that. Like I said, they never stated they're making a platform for the artist. It was designed to stop piracy.

Whenever I have this discussion about Spotify... there's no different than radio here and juke box man. So they feel like whatever they are take it and shut up. The other two are not right either. No I wouldn't want anyone to steal my records and not get paid! I wouldn't want anyone to openly steal either and try to make me think they helped me. Yes piracy has hurt the industry (but we were doing fairly well before the internet) and it also helped too, but not for the new up and coming artists. I know I'm going to get a lot of feedback from this ,but this is the way I see it and that's from the bottom looking up.

--Bill Curtis
--Bob Davis

Blues, Hip Hop and Soul Music Director

Work for Hire / Fatback Mobile (Commentary from Bill Curtis of the Fatback Band)

Fatback Band Update

Hey, I want to get right into it. In my "Stay Hungry and Beware" newsletter, I mentioned if you were administrating your Father's, Mother's, Grandparent's estate or your own copyrights and were a recording artist signed with a label during or after 1978, you need to know about "Works for Hire." If you don't know what that means, in short, that means you don't own the rights to your songs, that someone else owns the rights. Although you wrote the songs and recorded them, if you signed a "works for hire" contract they can take the masters and make CD's and sell around the world for ever after and on and on.

Congress amended US Copyright Law in 1978 knowing that artists just starting out were unlikely get a favorable contract. So after 35 years, you have the right to recapture the rights to your masters recording - after the initial period - so you can distribute to the world to buy. No one ever told me that, not even my attorney, but it's the law. You have to notify the label 1 to 10 years before the 35-year period is up. 2013 will be the first test period, so if you recorded 1978 and after check with your attorney. Most of the old contracts didn't have "Work for Hire''in them, artists assigned ownership of the copyright on those masters to their record company. The label then controlled said recordings and decided how to exploit them for profit.

When the initial copyright period ends, which by law is after 35 years, the old regime wasn't about to change the game that they been controlling for many years. I want you to read about what they tried to do to change the law without Congress knowing, just so they could still do business as usual. There's a great article about this in the Austin Chronicle and what they were doing: worldwide Black Box Money. I do hope the industry can find away to give up its old practices and become more artist-friendly. The internet still has a long ways to go to catch up with the labels to produce a superstar. The label has that infrastructure, marketing and publicity. when the net figures that out, "goodbye old school." If they don't buy the internet out before then, for themselves if you noticed every time the independent created artist get a platform on the internet the majors buys them out. Get ready for a big WAR.

This termination will change the whole music industry don't think it gonna down just that easily the fat cats aren't gonna give up their gravy train cause they know that's the beginning of the end, of their freely exploit and profiting from own masters long after they have been paid for, and keeping the royalties.

As a young artist starting out in this business, know what you sign.

A little more about our Fatback app, when you post five friends to get our app you will get a link to download a brand new song that's only available in our mobile app.

--Bill Curtis
--Bob Davis

Blues, Hip Hop and Soul Music Director

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