Lyor Cohen Bashes Streaming Wars, Responds to Dame Dash

Lyor Cohen

Since leaving his post as chairman of Warner Music Group in 2012 to form 300 Entertainment, Lyor Cohen has seen a lot of success. His boutique label has help catapult the careers of Young Thug, Fetty Wap and Migos.

How does he do it? The industry veteran sat down with Complex to talk about where the music industry is going, his thoughts on streaming wars, and what 300 Entertainment is all about.

Regarding the streaming wars between TIDAL, Apple Music and Spotify, Cohen feels its bad for the industry and the consumer. "I don’t believe in exclusives. I think it’s damaging to our industry," he says. "I believe in ubiquity. I don’t think streaming services should win or get a leg up because they have an exclusive. They should get a leg up because they’re the best consumer experience. It fractures the consumer experience if you sign up for Spotify or Apple or TIDAL or Rhapsody thinking that you’re getting most of the world’s music for $10. When one has an exclusive or another has an exclusive, it’s interrupting the process of paid subscription. And I don’t like it."

Later, Cohen responds to Dame Dash's criticisms that he's a "culture vulture", who rapes hip-hop for his own benefit. "I don’t see him or hear him. I wish him the very best," he says. "I hope he finds his way, and finds a way to contribute and feed his family. As far as community work, that’s private for me, but it’s also public. Everyone knows I’m a proud board member for over a decade of Boys & Girls Harbor. We help thousands of kids in the inner city, primarily in Harlem, through the arts and school."

These days, artists build careers without the backing of a record label. Cohen agrees that records labels are less and less needed by musicians. "I applaud them," he says of artists who build careers completely independent. "It makes a whole lot of sense. I think it’s unbelievable. I don’t know what the definition of a label should be. I know what it once was, but it’s no longer. The artists don’t need them in that capacity anymore."

So, if record labels are no longer needed, what does Cohen offer with 300 Entertainment? "300 offers a more boutique experience," he explains. "There’s no taking a ticket and waiting in line. It offers consistent presence of the principles. It offers capital. It offers a sounding board of professionals who have done this for quite some time. It offers unique opportunities and not cookie-cutter deals that aren’t imaginative."

Read Cohen's full Q&A with Complex here.