The office walls of urban music marketing and consulting firm RBC are lined with gold and platinum discs by artists the company’s partners have worked with over their many years in the business.
Jay-Z, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, N.W.A. — they’re all represented, crowding out all available wall space. But RBC’s success doesn’t just lie in multi-platinum albums, it’s also in the numbers.
At a time when the major record labels are seeing their business erode, RBC is thriving as it nears its eleventh anniversary of existence, with $20 million in gross billings and 30 percent growth in 2011 alone. Competing with the majors, RBC’s clients have scored nine No. 1’s on Billboard’s Top Independent Albums chart, five No. 1’s on Billboard’s Top Rap Albums chart, 15 albums on the Rap chart for four consecutive weeks, as well as numerous albums in the Billboard Top 10 throughout the year.
Founded by partners Ben Grossi and Brian Shafton, RBC provides label services and infrastructure for nearly 20 artist-owned independent labels. RBC’s careful methods have earned them a stellar reputation among artists, who are walked through each step of the budget and marketing process, many for the first time in their career. This allows them to be in control not only of their creative destiny, but also of the decisions that impact their bottom line. RBC’s system also satisfies the company’s distribution clients, which include Universal, INgrooves Fontana, eOne/Koch, EMI, Warner Music Group, Sony/RED, Super D, Select-O-Hits, and Navarre. Distributors rest easy knowing that RBC is holding the purse strings and allocating their investments in an effective way.
The idea for RBC was born in 2001 when the founders began to see that burgeoning digital piracy was leading to corporate downsizing and the jettisoning of many artists from label rosters. Grossi and Shafton met at Priority Records, which was known for its development of a pioneering “street-based” method of underground marketing that bypassed mainstream radio and helped build the careers of many superstar artists as well as such prominent labels as Death Row, No Limit, Rawkus, Ruthless, and Rap-A-Lot.
When Priority was sold in pieces to EMI beginning in 2001, Grossi and Shafton recognized a niche business opportunity in taking on below-the-radar, yet still commercially viable artists and providing avenues for them to continue to make music and release it in the marketplace. In doing so, RBC has created a legitimate economy for the independent urban music community, and given a voice to artists who are often stifled in the major-label system. With RBC’s experienced guidance, artists accustomed to operating only on the creative side are now able to run their own companies, retain their own master recordings and publishing rights, and finally, to sink or swim based on their own decisions.
In addition to its core competency of providing general management for artist-owned labels, RBC has other revenue streams, including its wholly owned label RBC Records, which has released more than 60 albums. In addition, RBC’s Music Supervision arm has garnered song placements for its clients in numerous feature films (Alpha Dog, Hostel), television shows (CSI, Entourage, Keeping Up With The Kardashians, Psych), and video games (Madden, Midnight Run) just to name a few.
As RBC heads into its eleventh year, the company is celebrating its longevity with a slew of new projects that will prove even further how its mission to deliver on its promises and make money for its artists and distributors has enabled the company to compete successfully with the majors as the music industry continues to evolve in the digital age.