Maitreya, Meet Chuck D.
UPDATE: I am informed by both Maitreya and Sellaband head Johan Vosmeijer that introductions have indeed been made prior to the posting of this article. Apparently Mr. Vosmeijer’s inbox has been bombarded with emails lobbying for that which is in the works already. Kudos to Sellaband for jumping on this and I hope that his inbox is equally bombarded with supportive messages.
The recent press release from Sellaband may not, on the surface, be particularly significant for those artists on the Sellaband roster who toil away in genres other than Hip Hop. But looking at the development of Sellaband teaming up with Hip Hop icon Chuck D. and his BTN Eastlink company from a purely business-minded point of view should give every Sellaband artist pause to reflect on how this partnership can ultimately generate the interest in the Sellaband concept that will open the U.S. market to artists of all musical styles. The object of this exercise is to sell music as well as the concept. Sellaband now finds itself perfectly positioned to bring this about.
Of the artists to have completed the process of raising a budget and completing an album, there is one who stands out head and shoulders as being the most logical laboratory rat for this experiment. Maitreya is a Hip Hop rapper from faraway New Zealand whose Sellaband journey has paralleled the company history. As the first and most prominent Hip Hop artist on the label, he is probably second only to Sellaband head Johan Vosmeijer in frequent flyer miles, having appeared on numerous Sellaband concerts and functions in Europe as well as recording his album Close To Home in London, New York and New Zealand.
A self-professed apostle of Chuck D. and Public Enemy, Maitreya is an evolutionary mutation that could only have occurred under specific environmental circumstances. Broadcast media brought Public Enemy to Maitreya in his formative years. Fairly recent developments in low budget/high quality recording made it possible for Maitreya to share his music in a way unthinkable ten years ago. The internet brought Maitreya before a worldwide audience which facilitated the budgeting of his album. And now Maitreya finds himself just one degree of separation from having his music placed into the hands and ears of a company operated by his most respected mentor by proxy. All that remains to close the circle is for Johan Vosmeijer to say the words, “Maitreya, meet Chuck D.”
Why is this the right move for Sellaband to make and why should non Hip Hop Sellaband artists be lobbying heavily for Maitreya to carry the Sellaband banner into the U.S. market? Using Maitreya’s Close To Home as a battering ram to open the doors of the American public to Sellaband is not only a no-brainer, it is a win, win, win situation. Sellaband did not look to Los Angeles or Nashville, it looked to the icon of the New York Hip Hop world for its wedge. With a commitment in hand from Chuck D. to be the their U.S. ambassador, Sellaband, consciously or not, has taken a stand as to the direction the company will pursue at the onset of American involvement.
For a company to deem an artist worthy of development and exploitation, the artist must be special. Not only must the product be of high quality, there must be a hook, a story that makes an undeniable case for proceeding full steam ahead. Labels don’t push artists for any reason other than the potential of that artist to generate funds and interest in other artists on the label. Maitreya fits the mold as if the role were written with him in mind and the timing is perfect. Positive and diligent endorsement of his album from Chuck D’s company will do much to get Close To Home on American Radio and usage in other media.
Chuck D. has the opportunity of introducing a unique artist from the other side of the world to the American audience in a genre he has dominated for years. Sellaband has the opportunity to generate in Maitreya the breakout artist it desperately needs to become a major player in the industry. And when Close To Home becomes a household word, every Sellaband artist with a professional level package and a story to tell will be that much closer to getting attention from more than just the loyal fans who came together to finance their projects.
Can Sellaband make this happen? Undoubtedly. Will Sellaband make this happen? The answer to this question is what everyone in the Sellaband community should be lobbying for as the potential of this relationship could have a massive effect on hundreds of artists across genre delineations. Breaking an artist is not something to be taken lightly and if done without a high level of commitment can be an exercise in futility. The table is now set for Sellaband, BTN Eastlink and Maitreya to make a strong move in a direction that couldn’t be more mutually beneficial.
The exploitation of artistic content is the goal and the duty of a label and publishing entity. Making recordings is only the first step in a long process of which most young artists and the public in general remain ignorant. The landscape of today’s popular music scene is littered with more content than at any time in the history of recording. Winnowing through the haystacks for exploitable material is a gamble and heads roll when bad choices are made.
Maitreya’s Close To Home is a no-brainer for everyone involved. Making it happen will require follow through. Artists and believers in the Sellaband community need to understand the positive impact this could have on them and act accordingly in communicating with the powers that be. Chuck D. and BTN Eastlink need to see dollar signs in Maitreya’s album and act accordingly as well. Maitreya needs to be true to his well-developed roots and stand ready to kick the serious brand of ass that an endorsement from someone of Chuck D.’s stature would demand. And finally, Johan Vosmeijer needs to get the ball rolling and say the magic words, “Maitreya, meet Chuck D.”