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Issa Rae, Raedio, And The Blueprint for Independent Prosperity

Issa Rae, the prolific creator of HBO's Insecure, has always been about giving opportunities to people who are traditionally overlooked. During the filming of Insecure, it was commonplace to hire people who don't have the biggest resumes, but much greater drives, they had a contest to pick new Production Assistants every season. The majority of the cast and crew is Black, which is also a rarity in Hollywood. Though she is more known for her current endeavors in television, she is making waves with her moves in the music industry as well, keeping that same egalitarian "we all we got" mentality that helped Insecure become such a great show.

Issa started a record label called Raedio, and the motto is "audio everywhere."

Beyond what you'd expect from a typical record label, Raedio has several other major services to offer, from publishing to music supervision, to live shows, and a library of music as well.

In a statement to Billboard, Issa spoke of her aims with Raedio, saying

“This partnership is perfectly aligned with my mission in helping open doors and provide opportunities for women to succeed and flourish in their craft, I can’t wait to see the impact this program and partnership has on the selectees and the music that is created as a result.”

The partnership specifically? It is the Raedio Creators Program Supported By Google. Google and Raedio reps will sponsor two composers and two other female artists who will maintain ownership of their music and produce a 3-5 song EP, with funding covered for recording fees, marketing fees, producer costs, as well as consultation from Raedio. Your average record label will not foot the bill for any of your musical ventures without retaining some ownership over that music, or even cutting more of the profit than the artist does. This venture is ambitious, trailblazing, and a breath of fresh air in an industry that constantly sucks the autonomy and livelihood out of artists every single day. When asked by the LA Times to compare the music industry to the film industry, Issa said:

"Absolutely not. It’s probably the worst industry that I have ever come across. I thought Hollywood was crazy. The music industry, it needs to start over. Conflicts of interest abound. Archaic mentalities. Crooks and criminals! It’s an abusive industry, and I really feel for artists that have to come up in it."

Which no doubt inspired her to create Raedio, an abuse-free business model that is meant to spotlight artists, not squeeze money out of them. Raedio's first official release was the single and accompanying visual for Kinda Love from singer-rapper TeaMarrr.

The video stars TeaMarrr, Issa Rae, and is directed by Child (the duo of Ari Lennox and Lucky Daye). A star-studded release dedicated to finding someone who can give you committed, long haul love.

Though Raedio's business model does rely on companies being much more giving and caring than they normally are, it is a shining example of what the music industry should and could be. It is something that other influential people can mimic to create genuine competition against exploitative record labels. If more big names in music ran their own labels like this, a Diddy, Drake, or Kanye West, who would be more than capable with the resources and connections that they have, we would be much closer towards having musicians being treated fairly, and encouraging creativity over a quota.

We at the MSQ Shop pride ourselves on uplifting independent artists and spreading great music to as many ears as possible, and we salute Issa Rae's ventures in the music industry, and we hope it is a sign of things to come.

Check out Raedio's Instagram and listen to the great music library they have, from the Insecure Soundtrack to their other original music.

Written by Max Olarinde, @mobeige1 on all social media.

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