Bakdraff is a collective of entrepreneurs who specialize in the marketing and distribution of digital media

Dark skies for SoundCloud, the life and times of startups in the new music industry.

               Over the last few weeks I've been keeping tabs on the once wildly successful music company SoundCloud. The business was started in 2007 by Alexander Ljung and Eric Wahlforss. The founders wanted to create a tool that would allow musicians to share their work with one another. For years the company grew and became quite popular among the artists and music production community. By January of 2014 after its most recent round of funding the company was valued at roughly 700 million dollars. By May of that same year it was reported that Twitter was considering acquiring the company for 2 billion dollars. I feel that most people would agree that these are very impressive numbers for a music startup from Berlin. So here we are three years later and SoundCloud has closed two offices and laid off a large portion of their workforce. Now tech industry insiders are speculating if the company can survive the next few weeks without an all out collapse.

                 According to a few articles I've read online, SoundCloud's troubles began with their inability to secure licensing deals with the major record labels. This comes as no surprise as many companies including Apple, Spotify, and Google have had to form some kind of working relationship with the major labels. Even though from my perspective Apple and Google are not in the business of music. Apple sells hardware and devices, iTunes is just another way to drive sales to their core products. Google is a tech giant that has its hands in a lot of products and services. But a huge part of their revenue comes from advertising. So all of the content available through their search engine and YouTube is just another way to capture an audience for their advertisers. As an entrepreneur myself, I love Apple and Google. They both started from humble beginnings only to grow to to a size that no one could have imagined. But their business models don't rely on music sales. Over the last decade alot of people who's livelihoods do depend on music sales have had to reinvent themselves.

                 So moving forward I look to the startup community to continue to bring innovation to the music industry. And where better to look then right here in New York City. For decades New York has been the home of the music business. From the label heavy Avenue of the Americas to tin pan alley, where music publishers collected royalties for vast catalogs of music. Today we have what is known as Silicon Alley, the east coast's answer to the tech center of the Bay area of California. With New York's rich history of music business dominance coupled with the spirit of disruption that runs wild in the startup community, I feel there is no better place for a revolution in entertainment. So I began my search right here in NYC and found a long list of pioneers in the music space. Companies like Bkstg who are helping artists foster a better connection with their fanbase. Next Big Sound who aggregate information from all over the web so that music professionals can make better informed decisions based off of actual data instead of gut feelings. The Orchard who provides a quality alternative to the traditional channels of music distribution. Peerlogix who is taking a big data approach to the entertainment industry. They are offering their SaaS technology platform to the music and streaming media business. And of course Spotify who have been able to work directly with labels to provide a valuable music service to consumers. 

                         So in closing the latest news on SoundCloud is that they are here to stay and that the media is over exaggerating their current state of affairs. Great, I want to see companies like this thrive and continue to grow. The demand for music, art, and the cultural industries as a whole wll always be strong. My hope is that a lot of smart and talented people will be able to adapt to the current landscape and usher in a new age for the entertainment business. As someone who has experienced the rise and fall of the traditional music business first hand. I aspire to be among the new wave of entrepreneurs working toward a bigger and brighter future for the entire digital media industry.


Me Against The World

                           With  all  the  hype  of  the  new  Tupac  movie  circulating  throughout  the  hip  hop  community.  Its  made  me  reflect  on  the  impact  he  had  on  me  and  the  content  I've  created  over  the  years.  Pac  was  deep  to  say  the  least,  and  it  shows  in  the  characters  he  played  in  his  own  movie  roles  as  well  as  the  poetry  he  wrote.  I  was young  when  what  I  feel  is  one  of  the  greatest  albums  of  all  time  was  released,  "Me  Against  The  World".  I  had  that  album  on  repeat  for  weeks  after  I  bought  it.  It  was  the  first  time  that  I  have  seen  an  artist  cover  such  a  wide  array  of  topics,  and  even  though  it  was  all  new  music  at  the  time,  any  fan  of  hip  hop  knew  that  these  songs  where  instant  classics.  Although,  music  is  subjective  so  this  is  all  strictly  my  opinion,  but  I  have  yet  to  speak  to  anyone  that  can  deny  the  importance  that  this  album  has  in  the  culture  of  hip  hop.  

                              Tupac  spoke  on  some  of  the  darkest  moments  of  street  life  in  songs  like  "So  Many  Tears"  and  "Lord  Knows".  Then  he  targeted  radio  stations  with  a  song  like  "Temptations"  which  remained  in  heavy  rotation  for  months  across  the  whole  country. And  as  if  that  wasn't  enough,  he  decided  to  write  one  of  his  most  personal  songs  dedicated  to  his  mother  "Dear  Mama".  I  have  friends  that  to  this  day  can't  listen  to  that  track  because  of  the  shear  emotion  that  it  brings  out  of  them.  Keep  in  mind   that  while  all  of  this  incredible  music  was  touching  so  many  people  worldwide,  Tupac  was  sitting  in  a  cell,  unable    to   truly  witness  the  impact  that  his  art  was  having  on  the  world.

                Tupac  was  also  the  first  rapper  on  that  level  to  fill  his  songs  with  the  constant  theme  of  his  own  death.  It  was  very  eerie  to  hear  a  young  man  that  had  reached  his  height  of  success  talk  about  his  own  demise. "I smoke  a  blunt  to  take  the  pain  out  and  if  I  wasn't  high  I'd  probably  try  to  blow  my  brains  out, lord  knows"  was  a  very  dark  lyric  coming  from  a  very  dark  place.  But  something  that  I  will  always  remember  about  Pac  was  the  influence  he  had  on  my  generation.  When  the  incident  in  Las  Vegas  after  the  Tyson  fight  occurred,  everyone  I  know  was  praying  for  him  to  pull  through.  It  was  like  the  entire  hip  hop  community  had  a  close  friend  in  the  hospital.  So  a  few  days  later  when  the  news  broke  that  he  had  passed  away   I   was  in  shock.  The  following  day  I  arrived  to  school to  find  people  in  tears  and  truly  mourning  a  great  talent  that  left  this  world  much  too  soon.  A  girl  in  my  class  even  brought  in  a  scrap  book  about  two  inches  thick  full  of  posters,  magazine  pages,  and  news  articles  spanning  his  whole  career.  How  many  people  can  say  they  touched  that  many  lives  given  the  time  that  we  are  here  on  this  earth?  That  is  a  legacy  that  will  never  fade,  and  will  only  continue  to  grow  as  future  generations  discover  one  of  the  greatest  albums  of  all  time....."Me  Against  The  World".


Respect The DJ

 Bakdraff started years ago with a DJ and two MC's. So the very foundation of my career started off similar to the artists I looked up to that came before me. I can remember clear as day being at that DJ's house listening to the records that would influence me for years to come. No matter what kind of drama I was going through on any particular day, my mind would go to another place every time I heard those infamous scratches of DJ Premier, or the latest single from some underground rap group. When I look back on those days I'm amazed at how far the music and the culture has come. Now with the internet and technology ushering in a new industrial revolution, I realize just how much has changed and how much the business will continue to evolve. But no matter what happens in the future, I feel that there will always be a place for talented individuals at the turntables. So respect the culture, respect the hustle, and respect the DJ.

A Uniao Faz A Forca!!!

               Eu sempre tive um interesse no Brasil, acho que é por causa da beleza natural e do clima do país. Mas em 2008 eu vi o filme Favela Rising, e eu vi o Brasil em uma nova luz. Mesmo AfroReggae é um longo caminho dos EUA eu poderia se relacionar com Anderson Sa. Como Anderson, cresci envolvido com drogas, gangues e cultura de rua. Minha graça salvadora através de tudo isso foi música. Quando era adolescente, minha bateria de faculdade me mantinha fora da rua alguns dias por semana. Alguns anos mais tarde, enquanto estudava na Flórida, morava em uma área com uma grande população latino-americana. Cubanos, porto-riquenhos, colombianos, mexicanos, dominicanos e até mesmo brasileiros. Eu tinha professores na escola que nos desafiou a pensar fora da caixa que me levou a explorar até que ponto o hip hop alcançou fora dos EUA. Dos altos projetos de moradias públicas de Nova York para a favela da Rocinha. Do leste de Pittsburgh para as favelas da Ásia. Todos nós encontramos terreno comum com batidas e rimas. Então eu explorei mais os artistas e produtores no exterior. O que eu encontrei foi uma longa lista de pessoas talentosas como Emicida, Popcaan, Mc Guime, Mc Bin Laden, Criolo, MV Bill, Zona A Escuridão, Guy2Bezbar, Gradur, Mc Davo, Racionais Mc's e uma lista ainda mais longa de artistas Reggaeton.

               Todos nós temos algo em comum. Todos nós lutamos com condições duras e descobrimos que o hip hop é uma grande saída para expressar o que é como viver e sobreviver a essa luta. Agora, como a tecnologia continua a crescer e mais pessoas ganham acesso à internet, todos nós estaremos expostos à música e culturas que nem sequer sabem que existiam. Mesmo que a última década tenha visto o negócio da música atravessar uma ruptura grande, eu olho para a frente ao hip hop que alcanga mesmo mais partes do mundo. E eu definitivamente estou ansioso para o mundo chegar a mim para colaborar e trabalhar em conjunto para criar uma cena musical verdadeiramente global.

Un Mensaje A La Comunidad Latina

                En los últimos años he notado cierto interés por nuestra música de toda la región latinoamericana. Así que estoy pidiendo a todos los dj's, artistas, productores de música y cualquier otra persona involucrada con la música en la comunidad latina para llegar y ponerse en contacto con nosotros. Vivimos en una era increíble donde la gente creativa en cualquier parte del mundo puede unirse y hacer algo realmente especial. Después de pasar algún tiempo viviendo en la Florida hace años, me presentaron a Reggaeton, Bachata, y Salsa. Antes de que mi única exposición a los músicos españoles era los artistas habituales como Pitbull, Fat Joe, Nore, Tego Calderón, Big Pun, y toda la Terror Squad. Ahora, después de pasar tiempo en la Florida y toda una vida viajando desde y hacia la ciudad de Nueva York he estado expuesto a una gran música y una hermosa cultura. Así que este mensaje es para todos mis jefes de hip hop latino en todo el mundo. Estoy llegando a todos los artistas a través de todos los límites para unirse y trabajar juntos. Así que utilice este sitio web y cualquiera de nuestros canales de medios sociales para contactarnos directamente. Y por favor perdóneme si esta traducción no es tan buena, no tengo tiempo para hacer una traducción correcta. Paz.

All Summer Sixteen

 So as the summer of 2016 officially comes to an end, I'd like to thank everyone that helped us promote our latest release 'The Vault'. I want to start with thanking the entire city of New York for all the love especially Harlem, East Harlem, Brooklyn, East New York, South Bronx, Jamaica Queens,  Staten Island,  New York University, The City University of New York, and the whole island of Manhattan. Shout out to the whole state of New Jersey, Edison, Trenton, Jersey City, Paterson, Newark, Atlantic City, and Union City. Shout out to Cleveland, as a Pittsburgh native we were always taught to not like anything from Cleveland, but after seeing the city for myself I got a whole new respect for ya'll. Especially East Cleveland, where it goes down for real. Thank you to Washington D.C. and the whole DMV its all love. And last but not least Pistolvania!!!! From Pittsburgh to Philly and everywhere in between, thank ya'll for real. So as the seasons start to change and the leaves fall, I look forward to our upcoming projects and all things Bakdraff.

Bakdraff on BitTorrent

               A few years ago I became aware of a unique opportunity for artists to distribute music. For years I've known about peer to peer software like Bearshare, Limewire, and Kazaa to name a few. I didn't really see any value in these networks from the artists point of view because they gave people access to movies , music , and other content for free. Content that cost real money to produce, whether it was big name film studios in Hollywood, major record labels in New York, or me in Pittsburgh paying recording studios, music producers and god knows who else to put together a product. Now I've had a few people I know capitalize on these software programs to produce bootleg copies of any movie / album you can think of and sell them in the streets for a nice profit, can't knock the hustle. I've even read articles about the music business in other countries where bootlegging is basically the main distribution channel in places like Sao Paulo Brazil as well as alot of other major cities across the globe.

              So after seeing the effects of peer to peer technology on the creative industries worldwide, it seemed that the smart thing to do would be to embrace the habits of consumers and use these networks to deliver the latest movie or album. That's exactly what BitTorrent decided to do with the BitTorrent Bundle, now called BitTorrent Now. This is a way for recording artists and other content creators to distribute free content where they want, how they want, and meet their audience on common ground. So after previously releasing two bundles of my own, in the past, today I am releasing "A Bit of BAKDRAFF" a new BitTorrent release for hip hop heads to enjoy. This new release features a collection of eight songs from three different Bakdraff albums. So feel free to download the free music on BitTorrent and download and stream the albums 'The Steel City Hustle', 'Concrete Camouflage' and 'The Vault' on iTunes, Spotify, and wherever digital music goes to next.


New album 'The Vault' by Bakdraff.

'The Vault' is the latest release from Bakdraff Entertainment. The album is seventeen tracks long featuring music that was created over several years of recording. As the executive producer of this project I was involved in countless studio sessions at various locations in and around the Pittsburgh metro area. This album is unique because of the history that is captured within these songs. For me and the artists featured here, this is a recorded diary of the struggles we've been through growing up in the Steel City. This music is dedicated to everyone we grew up with, and to the people we lost in the process. Its dedicated to the big homie Tweed, who is featured on the track 'No Heart' on the album. Its dedicated to the blood, sweat, and tears we shed and to the hustle we shared together.The album will be available for download on April 29, 2016.