The R&B industry has always been lucrative since it has a global appeal.
And the genre doesn’t have as much chaos as hip-hop or rock, so insurance for venues is often cheaper.
But many R&B artists have complained about not earning what they are worth.
So, where is the problem?
Let’s find out.
In the early 90s, TLC was one of the hottest R&B groups, releasing one hit song after another.
They had sold over 10 million albums worldwide and were touring the world.
However, in 1995, they filed for bankruptcy with $3.5 million in debt.
One year later, the influential R&B artists’ reason settled with their record company for $10 million.
TLC was the first group to speak out against record label contracts, which often discriminate against Black R&B artists.
Race Is A Major Factor
According to retired songwriter Devo Harris, racism is evident in the industry.
As the songwriter who helped launch John Legend’s career, he was appalled to see Legend—who always pulled in thousands—playing in-between less popular rock bands.
And despite Legend’s success, securing a significant venue befitting his multi-platinum status was always a struggle.
Truth Hurts is another artist who struggled.
Despite early success with the 2002 hit song “Addictive,” her career stalled, and she had to sue Interscope Records to be free from her contract.
However, the record label ensured that no other label would sign her, and that was it.
Indie or Bust for R&B Artists?
James “Jimmy” Maynes, who signed Joe Thomas and Alicia Keys, understands the plight of R&B artists.
His advice for up-and-coming artists is to leverage social media and go indie; being a social media hit is the most effective way to get a record label’s attention and ensure they won’t give you a mediocre contract.
And his words couldn’t be more accurate; right now, building your brand as an entertainer is crucial to getting the big shots to take you seriously.
And, hopefully, record labels will start seeing artists for their talent, not their race or gender.