Arts & Entertainment, Music

The Music Industry


Lesson time 06:31 min

Nas talks about the current state of the music business and how it’s changed. He encourages you to think about being business-minded and eventually owning your music so you are in control of your own destiny.

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Topics include: The Music Industry


[MUSIC PLAYING] - Want to make music? Well, you got to sign contracts. But if you're going to sign contracts, guess what? You're a business man or woman. You're in the business world. So whether you wanted to deal with it or not, you have to because someone's going to make money off of you. And you should know what's going on. In America or anywhere in the world, you want to be a business person because that's what it's about here. And you want to be the one that says, this record could be in this commercial. This record can be licensed to this movie, this video game, not the record company licensed it to all of these things, and you don't even know. You want to be the one that does it and make the money from your work. Years ago, wasn't like that. In the beginning, the only way into the business was through the record companies that had been around for a while. And most of them didn't have any real respect for rap music because it was this new, young thing that was a street thing that didn't really carry heavy weight. When I got into rap music, R&B was the bigger thing. We were just happy to get record deals and happy. It was like, again, it wasn't as easy as it is today. It was like a miracle. We had to play by their rules. When you're in control of it, there's nothing that's done in the dark. It's really that simple. You have more peace of mind. And you need a team who want what you want who has, like, the time to go on this journey with you. No one could do it by theirself. I never met somebody who ran a successful record company alone by themselves. You need a team. And you don't need to live in a fantasy. You don't need to look at some successful rap label story and pretend that you're going to do the same thing. You need to do better than they did. Because chances are, today there's better ways of doing business than it was for that big label 25 years ago. There's more freedom today. With Mass Appeal, starting my own label was inevitable. It's the only way I would want to make records at this point in my life so that I could find artists and help them have their voice heard where, you know, I feel them. You want to learn how to really make a company go from the start to the top with you and your team. Takes a lot of work. I had my label. We started it in '14. And it was years before I put out any records on it. I was just trying to figure that out. You learn as you go. Believe in yourself. And no one is going to do it for you. Nobody's going to wake you up in the morning and give you your assignment and tell you what to do. You got to want to do it. And yes, it's a lot of work, but that's what we're here to do. It's no easy shortcuts, you know. So we have to stay in that mind frame that, you know, it's not going to be easy. But the more you give to it, the more you give back. I think that there's a lot of record companies that have the experience that you don't have. So that might intimidate...

About the Instructor

From the landmark album "Illmatic" in 1994 to the Grammy-winning "King’s Disease," Nas has been exposing truth through rhymes and vivid street poetry for more than 25 years. Now he’s sharing his journey, the evolution of Hip-Hop, and a brand-new song with you. Hip-Hop, lyricism, flow—learn how to tap into the power of your own voice and turn your experiences into music with one of rap’s all-time greatest artists.

Featured MasterClass Instructor


Grammy-winning rapper Nas shares his journey through the evolution of Hip-Hop, breaks down some of his biggest hits, and writes a brand-new song.

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