D.M. Levine wrote a great piece this week for the New York Observer that chronicled a series of visits to DD172, the new artistic “renaissance” center of lower Manhattan, started by Dame Dash, the former Rocafella Records co-founder. The space operates as a music studio, art gallery, and home to web designers and online content producers.
The story’s title, “The Wanna-Be Warhol,” paints the image that DD172 exists in a complete bubble, unaffected (and unwilling to be affected) by the outside world of the entertainment industry, very much in the spirit of Andy Warhol and the subculture of art and attitude he advanced years ago.
The funny thing here is that this may be the first time a “hippie-Warhol” experiment is actually taking place organically, independent of outside taste and monetary influence. Dash is essentially adding a collective mindset to something that was never thought to be collective- the internet generation. This experiment to house and develop all these growing, yet floundering artforms and industries, could flop or it could prosper. However, it is the first consolidation and business model we have seen for the new generation of musicians, film-makers, web designers, journalists, and visual artists.
“Every business model created before the recession is defunct because it’s based on a healthy economy,” Mr. Dash explained. “Now there’s a new economy, all these business models are completely brand-new.” But he added, “We’ll make money, though—we gonna pay the bills.” – Dame Dash, New York Observer
Levine pushed the question to Dash and others in the article as to how sustainable this is, or how DD172 is doing monetarily so far. He did not get very far, but the investment in the business is significant itself.
There has already been a few “major” albums recorded in the studio space. Most notably so far is the Blakroc album, which paired up well-known hip-hop artists with the rock group, The Black Keys. Below is an episode of a web series produced by Creative Control (one of the media ventures housed in DD172), chronicling the making of the Blakroc album.
“We call this ‘The 24-Hour Karate School,’ ‘The Super Friends,’ all that. It’s really a place where dudes can come kick it, get artistic, catch a vibe,” Dame said. “We just get to build and chill and grow.”
Artistically, this could be paramount in physically preserving and housing modern artform, as it is almost a monument to the new movement. However, it will only work if new artists are equally welcomed as established acts have been thus far.
We’ll see what happens. My hunch is that he’s onto something great artistically, but business is yet to be seen.
photo credit: Sonietta46