The movers and shakers of the music business are often behind the scenes and largely unsung. The SoulTrain.com Power 20 list highlights those who make the spotlight possible for our favorite entertainers.
One of the true gems for R&B/soul music was the 2015 Soul Train Awards. Presented by Centric TV, The Soul Train Awards was proclaimed by many as the best and most well-produced award show of the year. Centric has consistently made an effort to bring R&B music to the forefront, and their massive impact in the market continues for another year.
With Antonio “L.A.” Reid still at the helm of this iconic company, Epic Records continues to be a major force in the world of R&B. With strategic partnerships with companies such as Janelle Monae’s Wondaland Arts Society, and a newly announced deal for Puff Daddy’s Bad Boy Entertainment, Epic Records shows no sign of slowing down.
Though the overall popularity of music blogs has been on a slight decline, there are still a few keeping the fight alive. YouKNowIGotSoul.com has the type of hardcore readership and social media presence that most sites dream of. Concentrating largely on the still-popular ‘90s era of R&B, YKIGS keeps its readers engaged with detailed and telling interviews along with highly engaging social media contests.
A veteran of this list, SoulTracks.com continues to keep soul music gritty and real. Their ever- popular Reacher’s Choice Awards have become a staple of indie soul artists and continue to prove that it is the most realistic representation of whom the fans want to give accolades to. Going into 2016, this writer would love to see a possible televised version of the awards and a bigger and better year for the website.
Purpose Music Group
Adaptation is the key to survival in the music business. Many music companies have come and gone in the last few years, yet Brooklyn-based Purpose Music is a survivor. Bringing the soul music world new albums from the likes of Bilal and international singing sensation Nao Yoshioka, Purpose Music is bringing in the new year with new artist Marcus Machado.
Primary Wave Music
An all-around music entity, Primary Wave Music holds a publishing arm, record label, and talent/sports management division. A new album from R&B veteran Jaheim and a recently announced management deal with American Idol alum Fantasia look to send Primary Wave coasting on top of the R&B charts in 2016.
One of the newbies of the list, SoulBounce.com has been around for years. The perfect mixture of old school homage and new school innovation, SoulBounce.com is perfect for the reader who wants a bit of it all. In terms of mass appeal, SoulBounce.com is the perfect choice for young progressive music heads.
Phil Thornton proves year after year, that he is one of the top executives in soul music. The executive producer of TV One’s R&B Divas as well as the EVP of Urban and Inspirational Music for eOne, Thornton keeps his hands full with projects from Erica Campbell, Michelle Williams, and the many other who blend the lines between traditional soul music and gospel. 2016 is setting up to be a promising one for this young executive.
What more can be said about eOne music that hasn’t been said over the years. The indie giant has continued to pick up the slack where the majors left off with R&B. Staying current with the trends, eOne has also stayed true to the essence of R&B with albums from artists like Letoya Luckett and SWV.
VH1 Soul has been one of the last stands of soul music for a while. While other music networks have gone the way of the reality show, VH1 Soul has remained steadfast and provided us with our favorite soul and R&B videos over the last few years. With the recent announcement that VH1 Soul will be rebranded as BET Soul while keeping its original format, the network will incorporate more original programming consistent with its current structure.
You may not have heard his name, but as an R&B listener you heard many of his remixes/mashups including Chris Brown’s “Fine China,” and Usher’s “I Don’t Mind.” No one would think that Switzerland would contain such a burgeoning R&B juggernaut, but DJ Soulchild is out to prove that R&B is still an international force.
BB Kings, New York
Who can deny that New York’s legendary BB Kings is on the bucket list of every R&B performer. Over the years the venue has played host to an array of both emerging and established soul and R&B talent. What are the plans for BB King’s in 2016? Simply keeping its place as a performance mecca for those looking to live up to its namesake.
Sitting at the top of soul music publicists is international mover and shaker Fiona Bloom. Yet another veteran of this list, Bloom continues to expose her clients to media outlets all over the world. Relentless as ever, when Fiona dedicates herself to a client, there’s no stopping her. Trust me.
R&B music has been largely pushed aside by traditional radio, but internet radio has become a safe haven for artists who stick to the traditional structure of soul music. Largely void of the back-end politics that come with terrestrial radio, it is a welcome change in terms of generating exposure for the otherwise ignored. Recently, the royalty fee change has threatened the existence of some internet radio stations. It is imperative that artists come together to ensure that internet radio remains a power in the world of R&B.
Singersroom.com is one of, it not the biggest R&B websites on the net today. A long-time staple in the R&B community, Singersroom.com kept its status in 2015. The websites new music features, concert series, and gossip section will keep it at the forefront of R&B readers’ minds well into 2016.
Marvyn Mack, Top Notch Music
Many know his behind the scenes moves as a radio promoter, but industry veteran Marvyn Mack has blossomed into quite the record executive. Via partnerships with various distributors, Mack’s Top Notch Music label has given us projects from indie soul star John Michael, internet sensation L. Young, as well as R&B veterans Noel Gourdin and the living legend Angie Stone. Recently signed ‘90s R&B group NEXT will be at the helm for Top Notch in 2016.
Many years ago, you had to be signed to a major label to get your music to the masses. Oh, how times have changed since then. Even though there are other digital aggregators like CD Baby and 101 Distribution, Tunecore has evolved on a much higher plane. A staggering number of digital stores carry partnerships with Tunecore, and their recently launched publishing administration arm set the distributor miles ahead of the competition.
Neo 2 Soul Inna Grooves Mix Show
Podacasting in conjunction with internet radio have given indie artists new life on the World Wide Web. The Neo 2 Soul Inna Grooves Mix Show is one of the leaders in this lane. Boasting a playlist of artists from all around the world, Neo 2 Soul connects its large fan base with some of the most cutting edge artists today. Their dedication to showcasing real music is nearly unmatched, and their unwavering support of the artists is what every performer hopes to garner.
An easy favorite on this list, ThisIsRnb.com keeps it very simple: Showcase good music, and the artists that create hits. This format along with their consistency has kept the website on the laptops and iPhones of its readers for years. The year 2016 looks to be no different.
With general manager Randall Grass at the forefront of the label, Shanachie Entertainment continues to show that an honest approach to releasing music can bring great results. As always, the label boasts an impressive roster including Angie Stone, Avery Sunshine, and Maysa. Showing no signs of slowing down, Shanachie has several major releases for 2016.
Nick Eden is a songwriter/blogger/R&B junkie/entrepreneur coach based in Atlanta, GA. His new book, ‘The Realistic Rich: A Guide To Financial Freedom,’ will be available fall 2016.