After more than 10 years of preparation, indie rappers Russ and Bugus finally launch their own label: DIEMON.
Acronym for “Do It Everyday Music or Nothing”, DIEMON started in 2010 as a creative collective in Atlanta before becoming an imprint on Columbia Records when Russ signed with them in 2017. But in 2020, Russ concluded his contract with Columbia and became a full-fledged independent artist once again, releasing his 2021 album “Chomp 2” on his own. More recently, his single “Handsomer” cracked the top 40 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. Now, the multi-hyphen wants to help other artists by providing them with the resources of a major label – without all the other binding stipulations.
“Everyone has his masters; everyone owns their edition. We don’t eat on your merchandise or your tours, and it’s all a profit-sharing deal,” Russ said. Variety of the DIEMON philosophy. “We’re not looking to invest in an artist just to change their music. If we like an artist enough to sign him, it’s because we like what he does. It’s just a super artist-friendly situation, where we’re here to provide resources and mentorship to the artists we believe in.
Bugus, co-founder of DIEMON and Russ’s best friend since eighth grade, says the label seeks to recruit passionate, “hungry” artists from all genres.
“We don’t want to have to chase you down and beg you to come to the studio. We want the kind of artist we need to come out of the studio and be like, ‘Okay bro, you did five songs tonight, take a break,’” Bugus says. “There are a lot of rappers who have a label but it’s all rap, or R&B artists have a label and it’s all R&B. We want to be more like the big labels in that sense, where they have Garth Brooks and Lil Wayne and Wizkid from Africa.
And DIEMON found its first signer in Vallejo, California. hip hop artist LaRussellwho Russ says reminds him a lot of himself early in his career.
“If you look at what he does with his music, he puts out a bunch of content all the time – dropping albums here, dropping songs there. With him, I was like, ‘Man, do whatever you want. Anytime you need me, hit me,” Russ says of LaRussell. “Because I know if that’s your vision and you want to do all this content and do what you want to do before you dip into the resources – I don’t care, rock out. It’s the same thing I did, you know? But I know that wouldn’t be possible if he was signed to a major label, because they’d be like, ‘First, whatever you release has got to be ours.’ Second, you can’t post so much, we have to have a plan. “
For Bugus, this laid-back approach to deadlines comes from the first-hand experience of being, above all, a true artist. “We realize you can go an entire month without inspiration or creative juice. So you get that advantage just like the people who have played on the pitch ourselves, who are currently playing on the pitch,” he says. “We understand what it’s like to be an artist, and we don’t just look at our results at the end of the quarter.”
What will also differentiate DIEMON is its financial transparency, provided by the Vydia distribution platform. Using technology provided to the label, artists can log into DIEMON’s distribution website and track all of their earnings in real time.
“It’s super transparent, like you see what we see. It’s one thing to say, “Yeah, we’re a label that loves artists and you’ll always feel like you’re independent.” It’s a whole other thing to be like, “No, for real, you can log in and see what’s going on,” Russ says. “It’s important to maintain that friendly relationship with the artists, and Vydia is really great at being the resource you need when you need it, but other than that, lets you do your job.”
Russ and Bugus hope that once DIEMON is created, it will cause a mindset shift in the music industry, with artists realizing they hold the power.
“I hope the artists recognize that they are the core. They have more power than they think and there are other ways to win, you don’t have to go the majors route. You don’t have to abandon your masters and do all these really exploitative things,” Russ says. “That’s what I’m doing with my career, that’s what Bugus is doing with his career, but as a label we’re also going to show it with artists that we believe in. I can’t wait, and I know Bugus can’t wait either, until we are three or four artists in the line of DIEMON artists success stories.
Bugus adds, “Labels don’t make platinum albums, customers do. The fans are literally in the driver’s seat and they’re the ones directing everything, so we just want to help the artists leave that mindset that all the power is in the hands of the label, when it’s really between the hands of your audience. An artist is a lemon and a label is a lemonade stand. Lemons are still valuable without a lemonade stand, but a lemonade stand is worthless without lemons. Whether or not you have a label, you are still a lemon. You’re valuable regardless, but a lemonade stand without lemons is bankrupt.