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  1. #1

    Does the Rest of R&B Suffer in the Shadow of Motown? - Billboard


  2. What the article fails to take into consideration is that Motown did one thing better than nearly every other record label, be it R&B, Soul, Country or Rock: marketing. Today, they call it "building your brand" and Motown was phenomenally blessed with people like Barney Ales and everyone else who worked to sell Motown to the media, audiences, radio stations and anywhere else possible. Motown was probably also the only label that was astute enough to sell itself as a brand instead of this artist and that artist who just happened to be on Motown. As many have remarked over the decades, "Motown" became bigger than even its artists.

    Sure, there have been a lot of great labels, Sun Records (which is one of the few that people mention by name in regards to a specific sound and artist), Philiadelphia International, Atlantic, but Motown just had something almost supernatural going on that the name and image superseded nearly everyone else in the public's imagination. The article also talks about Motown's success based on marketing to Whites as if that were the only reason why it is celebrated above every other R&B label. But if that were the only reason, why don't Whites celebrate any Rock or Pop record labels by name as they do with Motown?

    Thanks for a great post, PeaceNHarmony! It shows the every time I think the fervor for Motown is dying out a bit, there is still yet another wave of excitement surrounding the company.

  3. #3
    No! R&B suffered first from Disco and immediately following that, Rap and Hip Hop. Motown was R&B and would have only made all of R&B that more popular.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by PeaceNHarmony View Post
    Midnightman, please read this article!
    Last edited by marv2; 04-24-2019 at 04:44 PM.

  5. #5
    I saw the reference to Stax; Stax had a sound and a group of artists, but there was no comparison success-wise to Motown.

    Motown had a more identifiable sound; Motown's brand become as identifiable as Crest toothpaste or Ford; Motown has some very identifiable stars - Diana, Marvin, Michael, Supremes, Temptations, Stevie whereas few other labels had that many identifiable stars.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by jobeterob View Post
    I saw the reference to Stax; Stax had a sound and a group of artists, but there was no comparison success-wise to Motown.

    Motown had a more identifiable sound; Motown's brand become as identifiable as Crest toothpaste or Ford; Motown has some very identifiable stars - Diana, Marvin, Michael, Supremes, Temptations, Stevie whereas few other labels had that many identifiable stars.
    Ain't nobody comparing Stax to Motown! There were people that preferred Stax music to Motown and vice versa. Where did all of the BS about comparing these two very different companies come from, excluding your own mind?

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by marv2 View Post
    Ain't nobody comparing Stax to Motown! There were people that preferred Stax music to Motown and vice versa. Where did all of the BS about comparing these two very different companies come from, excluding your own mind?
    Probably from the article which some of us clearly haven’t read...

    During their respective mid-’60s peaks, Memphis-based Stax/Volt was the Death Row Records to Motown’s shinier Bad Boy. Unlike Motown, Stax wasn’t founded by a Black entrepreneur, but by white brother and sister Jim Stewart and Estelle Axton. But it didn’t come into full bloom until the arrival of Al Bell, whose marketing savvy put Otis Redding at the forefront of the label’s push onto the charts. With a stable of artists that would include soul legends like Redding, Sam & Dave, Carla Thomas, the Bar-Kays, Isaac Hayes, the Staple Singers, Johnny Taylor and Eddie Floyd, Stax’s run was formidable.

    Booker T., Eddie Floyd & More Celebrate the Legendary Stax Records at BBC Proms
    Bell became co-owner of the label in the late 1960s after Axton’s dismissal, and emphasized Stax as the uber-Black “Soulsville” counterpoint to Motown’s “Hitsville” image. But mismanagement and misfortune led to the label’s mid-’70s demise and shuttering. In the aftermath of Stax’s 1975 closure, there was no one to preserve the label’s legacy. In the 1980s and ‘90s, when Motown tributes became commonplace, Stax faded into the distance.

  8. #8
    Interesting article PNH!

    I thought it very interesting when it said that Motown is still, at 60, the most consistently celebrated Black institution in popular music. This definitely says something for Motown's legacy.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by WaitingWatchingLookingForAChance View Post
    What the article fails to take into consideration is that Motown did one thing better than nearly every other record label, be it R&B, Soul, Country or Rock: marketing. Today, they call it "building your brand" and Motown was phenomenally blessed with people like Barney Ales and everyone else who worked to sell Motown to the media, audiences, radio stations and anywhere else possible. Motown was probably also the only label that was astute enough to sell itself as a brand instead of this artist and that artist who just happened to be on Motown. As many have remarked over the decades, "Motown" became bigger than even its artists.

    Sure, there have been a lot of great labels, Sun Records (which is one of the few that people mention by name in regards to a specific sound and artist), Philiadelphia International, Atlantic, but Motown just had something almost supernatural going on that the name and image superseded nearly everyone else in the public's imagination. The article also talks about Motown's success based on marketing to Whites as if that were the only reason why it is celebrated above every other R&B label. But if that were the only reason, why don't Whites celebrate any Rock or Pop record labels by name as they do with Motown?

    Thanks for a great post, PeaceNHarmony! It shows the every time I think the fervor for Motown is dying out a bit, there is still yet another wave of excitement surrounding the company.
    Hey, WW! I agree with you largely, with regards to the brandingwa that Motown did. I can recall being aware of the word 'Motown' from AM radio before I really knew what it was. When I became a record buyer and saw that silver logo on the Navy blue logo - bingo!! Now Stax tried to do something similar (what with their finger-snap logo and more Southern sound) and it could be argued that they had for a while more success with that in Europe then here in the USA but their lack of a signature cross-over superstar such as Stevie-Diana-Marvin did not permit a wholesale crossover. Ditto PI, and sadly both those labels had financial shenanigans as well ... Best to you!

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by TomatoTom123 View Post
    Probably from the article which some of us clearly haven’t read...

    During their respective mid-’60s peaks, Memphis-based Stax/Volt was the Death Row Records to Motown’s shinier Bad Boy. Unlike Motown, Stax wasn’t founded by a Black entrepreneur, but by white brother and sister Jim Stewart and Estelle Axton. But it didn’t come into full bloom until the arrival of Al Bell, whose marketing savvy put Otis Redding at the forefront of the label’s push onto the charts. With a stable of artists that would include soul legends like Redding, Sam & Dave, Carla Thomas, the Bar-Kays, Isaac Hayes, the Staple Singers, Johnny Taylor and Eddie Floyd, Stax’s run was formidable.

    Booker T., Eddie Floyd & More Celebrate the Legendary Stax Records at BBC Proms
    Bell became co-owner of the label in the late 1960s after Axton’s dismissal, and emphasized Stax as the uber-Black “Soulsville” counterpoint to Motown’s “Hitsville” image. But mismanagement and misfortune led to the label’s mid-’70s demise and shuttering. In the aftermath of Stax’s 1975 closure, there was no one to preserve the label’s legacy. In the 1980s and ‘90s, when Motown tributes became commonplace, Stax faded into the distance.
    That article does not compare Stax Records with Motown. They even use the word "counterpoint" signifying that they produced and sold DIFFERENT music styles. Stax was generally thought of as being more soulful and Motown more pop in terms of music styles.

  11. #11
    The article definitely makes a comparison. They compare the owners of the two labels, and the legacy of the labels. Are you saying it's unreasonable to compare the two labels? I disagree.

    I agree that they were different in many ways, but they were both labels in R&B/Soul music. They each had their own distinct sound and family of musicians and artists. However I agree with jrob in that Motown became so well-known in a way that no other label did, with stars like Michael, Stevie and Diana.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by TomatoTom123 View Post
    The article definitely makes a comparison. They compare the owners of the two labels, and the legacy of the labels. Are you saying it's unreasonable to compare the two labels? I disagree.

    I agree that they were different in many ways, but they were both labels in R&B/Soul music. They each had their own distinct sound and family of musicians and artists. However I agree with jrob in that Motown became so well-known in a way that no other label did, with stars like Michael, Stevie and Diana.
    You can do whatever you want, I am not comparing them. I was around when both labels were at their peak and even then we never thought of comparing them. I think some people are trying to compare these two companies because the artists were Black.

  13. #13
    Ain't Motown's fault other R&B labels besides from PIR and Stax to a lesser degree didn't get the same type of treatment.

    And I'm glad someone in the article mentioned, in my best Eminem voice, "Stax had a WHITE OWNER!"
    Last edited by midnightman; 04-24-2019 at 10:21 PM.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by midnightman View Post
    Ain't Motown's fault other R&B labels besides from PIR and Stax to a lesser degree didn't get the same type of treatment.

    And I'm glad someone mentioned, in my best Eminem voice, "Stax had a WHITE OWNER!"
    The last record company I can remember to have a big television anniversary special was Atlantic Records back around 1988.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by jobeterob View Post
    I saw the reference to Stax; Stax had a sound and a group of artists, but there was no comparison success-wise to Motown.

    Motown had a more identifiable sound; Motown's brand become as identifiable as Crest toothpaste or Ford; Motown has some very identifiable stars - Diana, Marvin, Michael, Supremes, Temptations, Stevie whereas few other labels had that many identifiable stars.
    Yes, I fully agree that a major part of Motown's prominence as a brand had/has lots to do with the presence of name-identifiable cross-over stars. But I also have to agree with the premise of the article which is that there were other bastions of soul sounds that most people under 60 or so would not recognize ('Philly Int'l' - you mean the airport?') and so all 60-70's soul music gets lumped as 'The Motown Sound'!

  16. #16
    Even uber famous artists get mistaken for Motown. It seems real lazy.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by midnightman View Post
    Even uber famous artists get mistaken for Motown. It seems real lazy.
    Particularly Aretha Franklin is always referred to as Motown

  18. #18
    when Motown closed the Detroit Studios , offices and went to LA, Motown Record label became just another record company. They lost their identity, style & sound.IMHO.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by motony View Post
    when Motown closed the Detroit Studios , offices and went to LA, Motown Record label became just another record company. They lost their identity, style & sound.IMHO.

    I agree. The flavor, the magic and most importantly, the sound was gone.

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by motony View Post
    when Motown closed the Detroit Studios , offices and went to LA, Motown Record label became just another record company. They lost their identity, style & sound.IMHO.
    I agree....my Motown collection concentrates on the years 1972 and before.
    Darin

  21. #21
    Motown was much more than a record company, musical style and sound, and entertainment enterprise. Motown was a brilliantly thought out business model created by an enterprising "genius" of sorts... Stax (ultimately a failed business model) and even PIR (had a sound, but not the foresight and growth potential) couldn't recreate on all those levels that Motown did... Berry Gordy was not only an iconic Black businessman, but an iconic business man...period...

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by jobeterob View Post
    Particularly Aretha Franklin is always referred to as Motown
    And what gets more confusing is Aretha is from Detroit too and Detroit is nicknamed "the Motor City" and "Motortown" so for Aretha, it's a different situation but when someone random name Al Green or Otis Redding one, you can tell they didn't do any research! LOL

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by StuBass1 View Post
    Motown was much more than a record company, musical style and sound, and entertainment enterprise. Motown was a brilliantly thought out business model created by an enterprising "genius" of sorts... Stax (ultimately a failed business model) and even PIR (had a sound, but not the foresight and growth potential) couldn't recreate on all those levels that Motown did... Berry Gordy was not only an iconic Black businessman, but an iconic business man...period...
    Right. Stax and PIR were great labels, no question, but they were no Motown and I mean that with the utmost respect to them. Motown, though, was a revolution and every act that contributed the most to it are definitely credited for it these days (Marvin, Smokey/Miracles, Supremes, Temptations, Four Tops, Gladys Knight, Martha Reeves, Stevie, Mary Wells, etc).

  24. #24
    Agree, up thread, with all the posters regarding BG/ Motown's influence. A real influencer, before there was such a thing! A few examples: ABC, When Smokey Sings; Maze & Frankie Beverly, Silky Soul Singer (homage to Marvin); Commodores, Nightshift (homage to Jackie Wilson/ Marvin).

  25. #25
    Like Xerox, Kleenex and Band-Aid

    Motown became synonymous with its brand

    Instead of copiers, tissue or bandages it’s brand was 1960s soul music

    As others pointed out when she passed Aretha was still being referred to in some comments and articles as a Motown artist (she was a huge sixties soul star, how could she not be)

  26. #26
    I have to say: Great music is great music.

    Motown

    Stax

    Blues artists 50's 60's out of Chicago ( like Howling Wolf for example )

    Ella Fitzgerald

    Paul Robeson



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    edafan
    Last edited by edafan; 06-27-2019 at 08:13 PM.

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