Brian McKnight On The Lessons Artists Can Learn From Prince And Beyonc

Brian McKnight’s musical influence extends far beyond the recording studio, and he hopes the next generation of musicians will be able to say the same. 

For the active ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) member and writer, sharing insights on the business of the music industry with the youth is a void that needs to be fulfilled by the established, veteran stars for the betterment of music.

The multi-platinum, singer-songwriter was among the many musicians on hand to share their wealth of music knowledge during this year’s 11th annual ASCAP “I Create Music” Expo in Los Angeles on April 28. Featuring keynote speaker Timbaland, the three-day event, which is dedicated to songwriters, composers, artists and producers, included performances from the likes of McKnight and also provided informative sessions for music creators.

“I think one of the problems with music today is that very few of the really good people in this business very rarely go back to even talk to the kids who are coming up, or inspiring the people who are coming up, to give them some insight as to how we did it,” McKnight said to The Huffington Post. “I think the people that did it for my generation were the Stevie Wonders and the Lionel Richies of our day, and I think it’s very important that we do the same thing for this next generation of people, because if we don’t they’ll be left to their own devices and having to fend for themselves.”

The “Anytime” crooner went on to tell HuffPost how Prince’s legal battle with Warner Bros. in 1993 to retain control over his music can be used as a valuable lesson for artists who may be negotiating their own record deal today.

“Most of us artists have no idea how valuable what we do is actually worth,” he said. “So when you talk about being a businessman, you have to do both, because fame and fortune don’t always go hand in hand… If you can get successful and powerful enough, you can sort of get back some of those things that belong to you. But as we see, as Prince is now gone and didn’t have a will, so people are going to be fighting over $300 million dollars… it should be a lesson to everyone, when you’re going into negotiation that is something that you should want and need to have back at some point.” 

As for his thoughts on artists being vocal on social justice issues and incorporating those messages into their music, McKnight says now is “the perfect time to do that.” One artist in particular that he considers to be at the forefront of uplifting the masses is none other than Beyoncé.

“Beyoncé, to me, she’s the one artist that’s been able to bridge the gap between the hay day of our day and really continuing to make strides at a time when it’s almost impossible,” he said. “So whatever she does, obviously she’s one of the only people in the world that’s able to do that, but it’s pretty amazing to see, whether it’s her vision or the people that are around her, what she’s able to do and what she’s allowed to do is an inspiration to everyone, because she’s doing it on her own terms. Especially for a female in this business. There’s very few females in this business that has this kind of power. So it’s really amazing to see.”

In addition to his contribution to the “I Create Music” Expo, in February, McKnight released his new album, the first in three years, titled, “Better.” The singer-songwriter also inked a label and distribution agreement with The Sono Recording Group in April, with plans of signing new talent and releasing his first live DVD this fall.

Check out pictures from the 11th annual ASCAP “I Create Music” Expo below. 

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