This year’s two-day Billboard R&B Hip Hop Conference & Awards wrapped Nov. 30 in Atlanta with a round of panel discussions with some of the genre’s top moguls and artists.
During the “People Get Ready” panel, Tony Gray (president Gray Communications), Ebro Darden (program director of WQHT New York), KJ Holiday (Clear Channel, Detroit), John Snyder (VP, PPM sales), Joanna Douglas (senior acct manager, PPM radio station services) and Stix Malone (radio personality, WHTA Atlanta) discussed the new Portable People Meter (PPM) system, how programming tactics will change due to the new system and how it will affect up-and-coming artists who hope to get their music aired at radio.
“The PPM system is less about recall and more about actual listening habits,” said Darden, whose own WQHT station will begin to use the system in September 2008. “Though the system hasn’t been implemented in our station, we will make changes accordingly.”
Holiday said the system was supposed to be adopted by his station this year, but due to minor glitches, it has been rolled back until next year, giving them more time to adjust to the rating format. Meanwhile, Malone said WHTA began making changes due to problems sister stations had once they made the initial change. “As soon as smaller issues are ironed out it will be a good system,” he added.
The Billboard Q&A with Steve Rifkind, moderated by Billboard’s senior correspondent (R&B) Gail Mitchell followed. Rifkind, the founder of Loud Records and Street Records Corporation (SRC) brought along some of the artists signed to his label, including Wu Tang Clan’s RZA, former TLC member T-Boz, rapper Topic and singer Shire.
Rifkind, who initially said he was nervous to speak at the event, gave his opinions on the current state of the industry, reuniting with Wu Tang Clan, new acts on the label and the n-word controversy among other topics.
“Everbody is blaming technology, but the industry itself sucks,” said Rifkind about the state of music. “Take responsibility. We have to start taking chances and develop artists and have patience. I don’t blame the music, I blame the executives.”
Rifkind also went on to talk about SRC artist David Banner’s visit to Congress to discuss censorship in music, and his stance on the issue. “Russell Simmons called a meeting to ban the word but he says it more than anyone I know,” he said. “I believe in letting artists say what they have to say. If Nas was my artist and he wanted to put out ‘N*gger’ on my label, I’d say ‘when do you want to put it out?'”
Rifkind also discussed initiatives like his Kids’ Block program, a children’s educational TV shows that he hopes will air on PBS next year, Loud Energy drinks and Loud.com’s Battlerap competition.