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Russell Simmons Launches All Def Music With Steve Rifkind, Universal Music Group

It’s no secret that YouTube has been the go-to portal for industry execs to sift through undiscovered talent in search of the next star. However, no major label has outright set up shop on Google’s video site – or admitted to such – until now. Def Jam Recordings co-founder Russell Simmons and veteran producer Brian Robbins are the first. The two announced a pioneering venture called All Def Music backed by Universal Music Group, one of the three major music companies, to leverage its resources in promoting the artists found via YouTube.

Steve Rifkind, who is responsible for signing Wu-Tang Clan and Xzibit, among many others, joins All Def Music as CEO and will also head up ADD (All Def Digital) Management. The new label further pushes Simmons’ All Def Digital venture, announced last year in partnership with Robbins’ AwesomenessTV start-up. Robbins and Simmons were behind the hip-hop documentary “The Show” in the mid-’90s, according to Billboard.

“The exponential growth of Internet-based video has created a powerful new outlet for music and music-based content, and the launch of All Def Music is a part of our broader strategy to partner with some of the most experienced entrepreneurs in media and technology to identify future stars and develop powerful content on the world’s fastest growing media platform,” UMG chairman Lucian Grainge said in a statement.

Simmons added, “this is the most exciting new terrain for me, to move talent across all media platforms.”

Artists currently under ADD Management are Spoken Reasons, a YouTube sensation who has garnered 1.37 million subscribers, and former SRC rapper Asher Roth. Roth, whose first single “I Love College” was well-received by fans and has nearly 20 million views, will star in an unscripted music-themed show titled “Lemonade.”

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About the Author


Slav Kandyba has worked as a journalist for more than a decade for a number of general interest newspapers, a wire service, trade publications and music and culture magazines and websites. Slav is currently a tech reporter for iTechPost.com, and has previously written for The Source and contributed to HipHopDX.com from 2007 until 2011. He began writing about hip-hop in 2006 when a friend challenged him to write about L.A.'s hip-hop scene, and he was one of the first journalists to spotlight Pac Div and U-N-I. Slav is a respected writer covering hip-hop culture and rap and has assisted in organizing events including the One Nation Hip-Hop Summit in Santa Monica, California, which featured a concert with Pete Rock and CL Smooth, and the first annual Academic Hip-Hop Conference at Cal State Northridge.

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