How did Major Record Companies take control of Black Music?(Part1)

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To understand how major corporate record
entities manipulated control of black music, we have to go
back in time to dissect an elaborate, complex, financial and
legal methodology.
It is the common story of large businesses swallowing up
smaller businesses, but in this instance, there are some
unique peculiarities needing closer inspection.
This story begins in the 1980s with the sale of Motown
Records, a once black-owned record company, to MCA
Records and Boston Ventures Limited Partnership. The
Afrikan American community felt a great loss of one of its
cherished institutions. Around that same period it seemed
like war had been declared against the survival of black owned
record companies. Solar Records was involved in a
suit, counter-suit with Warner Brothers Records for control
of its assets. Sussex Records, a once fast growing black owned
record company, was forced to cease doing
business for tax reasons. Philadelphia International
Records, a quality black-owned record company, was
under the distribution control, lifeline to its financial survival,
of CBS Records (also known as Columbia Records).
These are mammoth events virtually placing the dominance
of recorded black music in the hands of major record
companies. The hidden agenda may have been the closing
of all doorways towards the development of full service
(production, manufacturing, distribution) black-owned
record companies in America. Had this occurred, as improbable
as it seems today, it is possible that black
record companies would have ultimately controlled a larger
or equal percentage of the music business, competing with
major record companies.
It was told to me by Dave Parker (oldest promotion man in
the business at that time), that of the $500 million dollars
made in 1987 by CBS Records, approximately 80% was
from black music. black-owned record companies were
obviously seen as a potential threat to the control of the
music market.
The battle to control market share can best be understood
by looking into the case of Stax Records. In the 1970s, it
was the largest, most diverse black-owned record company
in the music industry. Stax artists roster included such stars
as: Isaac Hayes, Otis Redding, Al Green, Rufus and Carla
Thomas, The Staple Singers, Booker T. & the MGs, and
more. It also had a jazz label, blues label, gospel label, and
even a comedy label where such artists as: Bill Cosby,
Richard Pryor and Jackie “Moms” Mabley launched their
This era paralleled the turbulent 60s, with the social,
cultural, political and musical climate being fueled by the
black Consciousness Movement and the Viet Nam Peace
Movement. The financial profits generated by black
recording artists and the phenomenal success of black
films and soundtracks caused black entertainment
businesses to be closely monitored.
Stax Records reached several peaks with the
overwhelming success of “Wattstax.” The live concert of
Stax artists in the Los Angeles Coliseum attracted some
one hundred and twelve thousand black people, without
incident. It produced a film of the same event that was seen
worldwide, and was the first to get into the revolutionary
technique at the time, video production.
The success continued when Isaac Hayes, one of Stax top
artists, won the Oscar for best original film score for “Shaft.”
This was during a time when black record companies (Stax,
Sussex, Motown) had the lion’s share of black artists. The
major record companies, not to be left behind, sat up, took
notice, determined to find a way to control the lucrative
black music market.

CBS Records took an aggressive lead by hiring Logan
Westbrooks, a pioneer in black music marketing, to
maximize their profit margin in black music. When
Westbrooks joined CBS, he was unhappy with the way
records by black artists were being marketed. “There was a
vice-president of pop promotion, and the person that
headed the black music division would report to that
My position was that we should have a complete and
separate marketing division reporting directly to the Vice President
of marketing, which is the same way that the
White side was structured. That also was on the premise
that CBS realize that the black market is a separate entity
and should be approached from a black marketing
standpoint as opposed to the way it had been done in the
past. They bought it.

4 thoughts on “How did Major Record Companies take control of Black Music?(Part1)

  1. *standing ovation*

    Thank you Your Highness!!!

    I’ve always wondered how we “fell” from the music industry! I remember a blues musician from Buddy Guys Blues Club telling me how they were swindled by Jews who wanted to cash in on their talent. He made no money…and I mean NO money from touring and playing night after night…but the Jew got filthy rich.

    Prince, when I read about this stuff, I get so mad I need to calm down and get it together. Whites have always profited from us in every way. And we sink further and further into the abyss while they skyrocket to fame!

    Sorry but it’s hard not to be emotional about this. Music is a big part of black culture.

    • Yes they steal everything. It’s because they have no real talent themselves. They buy all the sports teams and record studios so they can have a monopoly on the market. They use black people’s talent to make themselves rich. I’m going to upload part two. There’s three parts in all.

  2. In the eyes of white society, we are still a commodity. Our labour empowered Europeans to dominate the world. We built the British Empire and constructed its colonies. We are the source of European wealth and therefore we represent WEALTH. Our strength, image and talent gives a financial advantage to anyone who controls it… and that is why black music companies were targeted by whites because they wanted the wealth we were accumulating for ourselves.

    Whites are well aware that we have the Midas touch. They know that anything we put our hearts, minds and hands to, turns to GOLD. Black people have been making white people rich since the day our ancestors stepped off the slave ships… and we are still making them rich today.

    The only way to stop their gravy train from steamrolling along, is to shut them out of our businesses. We must deal ONLY with our own people. Marketing, producing, selling and buying should be an ALL-BLACK experience that we never let go of.

    • Very well said! And all true! It’s a real shame when you think about it. We should be able to benefit from our amazing gifts. Instead we’re being used as slaves for the profit of others. We should be the people that market and sell our music. Music is a billion dollar industry. So why the hell are so many of our people starving and struggling? We can’t allow ourselves to be used in this manner.

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