Mad Men's Shrewdest Move

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Who’s not a Mad Men fan? RJD2 is, although he was on the receiving end of a very shrewd move by Lionsgate, the producers of the hit AMC show.

“It was a one-shot deal,” says RJ, about the instrumental version of  “A Beautiful Mine” that intros the show. “Lionsgate wanted to buy the publishing, outright. I had never done that before, so I said No. I told them they could use the song, but the license would remain as mine. I didn’t want to give up the publishing. I said, ‘Let’s look at a reduced fee where I still control the publishing.’ They countered with, ‘No, let’s look at an increased fee where we own the publishing.’ And that conversation went back and forth. Finally I relented.”


“Aceyalone, who was on the rap version of the song, and held a controlling stake in the publishing, as did the guy who owned the label, wanted to do it. We’re all friends, we’re all cool, they both were like, let’s do it, and I didn’t want to be the sourpuss about it. So I said, ‘F * it, let’s do it as an experiment.'”

We asked RJ if he had any regrets.

“No, not at all. Even though it was an extremely shrewd business maneuver by Lionsgate, because they ended up owning the publishing and they didn’t have to license it year after year, as the show gained popularity year after year. The deal would never had happened if I hadn’t given up my stake in the publishing. They would have chosen something else.  If we had arrived at a license, it would have been a one year deal, for a nominal fee. Then the show would have blown up, and they would have had to renew the license, and I would have said, ‘OK, the show is a hit, pay me more money.’  They had a lot of foresight. But the awareness and visibility that the show has provided me is tough to monetize. It was 2006, and AMC is pitching me on a show, and they have no roster, we thought it would flop.”

RJD2’s latest, Colossus, is the jam; read more about how he promoted it with his own start-up label, RJ’s Electrical Connections, in the next issue of DJ Times.

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