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The integration of digital properties into the music industry was bound to happen sooner or later, but Def Jam Records founder Russell Simmons and Loud Records founder Steve Rifkind saw an innovative way to capitalize in the marketplace by partnering with YouTube on All Def Digital, a record label and digital production house that looks to alter the way society consumes media in all forms.

Rifkind spoke with Hip-Hop Wired exclusively about ADD52, a digital platform created in partnership with Samsung’s new streaming service Milk Radio, the artists on the ADD roster, and more.

“ADD52, we feel, is the next big platform,” says Rifkind of his latest endeavor. As an extension of the label, the numeral in the project’s title isn’t just for flair. ADD plans to release a single a week for “52 weeks straight and beyond,” according to Rifkind.

At its root, ADD52 is basically a contest that’s set up to benefit both the two moguls and new artists alike. For the latter, it’s a way to premiere material to the masses, while the former can gauge the engagement of channel subscribers who will vote on their favorite songs and videos, by the singers and rappers promoted on the platform.  

Rifkind confirmed that ADD52 had an estimated 7000 submissions at the time of this interview, which is already more than enough music to push through the 52 week goal.

“When Russell develops a show for the ADD video channel, our goal is to upstream it to a [television] network,” Rifkind explained. “It’s the same thing we’re going to do with records, where if we find a record [on ADD52], we’re going to eventually upstream it to us. We have a joint venture with Universal Music Group, where we can pick whatever label we want to go to.”

He continued, “We’re the only record company that has a YouTube channel funded by YouTube and we’re the only YouTube channel funded by a record company. We have the best partners in the world; we’ve Google as a partner, we have Universal Music Group as a partner.”

Rikind and Simmons have appropriated old school tactics of street teams, using YouTube as a base. Understanding their target markets, ADD has commissioned 10 young adults ages 18-20 to scour YouTube for talent. With their A&R source in tow and a roster of artists that already includes rappers 3D Na’Tee and Tayyib Ali, R&B girl group Love Dollhouse, and singer-songwriter Niykee Heaton, more power moves for ADD is a promise, rather than a pipe dream.

Let’s see where the seasoned veterans take it next.

Find more about ADD52 on the official website.

Photo: WENN