'Give People What They Need': Why Russell Simmons Is Going All Digital

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It’s been 30 years since Def Jam Recordings pioneered the hip-hop movement with legends such as LL Cool J, Public Enemy, Beastie Boys, Run DMC and Jay-Z.

And while the music label celebrates that milestone today at a special anniversary concert featuring some rap icons as well as contemporary names like Rick Ross and 2 Chainz, its co-founder Russell Simmons is looking even further ahead. The serial entrepreneur long since sold his share of that record label and recently launched a digital distribution platform to find the next generation of performers.

Related: How Russell Simmons Plans to Style and Inspire Millennials Through Fashion

All Def Digital scouts rappers and R&B artists through projects like ADD52, a collaboration with Samsung MilkMusic; it also showcases new actors and comedians through a special YouTube channel launched in partnership with Dreamworks Animation's Awesomeness.tv. The goal is to provide high-quality "laughs, beats and rhymes" to an underserved audience and fill a larger "whitespace" that he says is plaguing music, television, Hollywood and show-business in general.

The platform is forging ahead and this August received $5 million in expansion capital from both Greycroft Partners and his own personal capital. Hear more about the venture – and what’s driving Simmons – in this quick one-on-one video. 


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Edition: July 2017

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