In an interview with LinkedIn Executive Editor Dan Roth, Russell Simmons offers insightful thoughts on the future of the music industry, race in Hollywood and his definition of true success.
Clocking in at nearly 10 minutes, the conversation serves as a testament to how long Simmons has been a part of the music industry, ultimately becoming the entrepreneur he’s known as today.
“Success is happiness,” Simmons tells Roth. “People say, ‘Oh that sounds corny.’ No matter how rich you are you can only sit your ass in one seat at a time. You have to be comfortable in that seat.”
He also takes the time to speak about the RushCard fiasco the happened last year, where users of the prepaid debit card lost access to their paychecks, government benefits and electronic funds transfers, when RushCard switched from an old transaction processor to a new one.
“I don’t blame anybody. I take it all on the chin,” Simmons said. “Obviously there are many multi-billion dollar companies that operate along with us and I gave them a pass. I took the brick myself and our company is growing again very quickly. It was a terrible moment. I think we have to be more careful. Our partners especially have to be more careful.”
Check out the entire interview below, as well as some choice quotes from the conversation.
On the future of the music industry in the digital age:
“If you’re a performing artist it’s good for you because we have social media, we have ways of drawing people to concerts. People are making greater percentages. People are going to live events more and it’s a big success story for everyone except the music industry itself. The business of music is in a little bit of a downturn, but it can turn around…it’s just questions of what percentage of the streaming monies come back and what other kinds of innovation comes up to exploit music. Music is being used more now than ever so that’s the good thing. It’s just the question of monetizing it.”
On race in Hollywood:
“I think Hollywood is incredibly segregated. I’ve never seen any place like it…it’s self-segregated in some cases, but there’s nobody black in charge of anything in Hollywood. Race does play a part when you talk about culture because if you have people living behind a gate, they don’t understand a lot of culture. A lot of American mainstream culture…in fact jazz and blues, and rock and roll, and hip hop…all comes from a place where you have one executive. There’s not one agent at all in Hollywood with any power.”