Billboard Interview with Big Jon Platt of EMI Music Publishing

Here’s an excerpt from a great article that we were reading the other day on


What’s the story behind the Drake phenomenon?

The label frenzy was crazy; the publishing frenzy was really crazy. And that’s because Drake is the whole package: music, lyrics, flow; everything. His “So Far Gone” mixtape is better to me than a lot of people’s albums because it’s all original, new songs. After hearing the music, I flew to Canada and spent about five hours with him. I didn’t think they were making stars like Drake anymore. But I knew right then the kid had it, that special thing.

It’s obviously great for EMI that Drake came along. But it’s also great for the business. We absolutely need new artists—new superstars—to keep [the industry] afloat. When I signed Jay-Z in 1996, he had “Reasonable Doubt, “ which was a classic album. But from that point until now, I’ve always looked at Jay as a great songwriter first and always will. I look at Kanye West as a great songwriter first. And that’s how I look at Drake. Jay-Z was writing songs for tons of other artists and Drake is starting to follow that same route. I can’t really say who else Drake is writing for, but he has written a song for Rihanna’s next project that’s a smash.


What do you look for in a songwriter?

[highlight]When it comes to R&B, I’m always looking for great melodies. Someone who can create great melodies has a true gift; it’s the one thing you can’t teach[/highlight]. Then the story and quality of the song come next. The third quality is the eye of the tiger: Are you going to work as hard for yourself as I’m going to work for you? When it comes to hip-hop songwriters, it’s about how compelling and believable your story is.


…the current state of R&B/hip-hop?

It’s a challenge, just like the overall industry is challenged. Hip-hop has to continue to challenge itself to grow; we need new stars to come behind the stars we have now. But the silver lining is that R&B is back in a big way. The genre has an open lane for new and emerging artists, as well as a lane where older artists can still be successful. Look at Maxwell’s album, selling 300,000+ in its first week. That was a very important moment for R&B. It made the statement that R&B will sell.

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