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Digital Dash: Taz Taylor and Internet Money’s URL Rise

Internet Money’ founder Taz Taylor talks about the collective’s new record B4 The Storm, his formula for hit-making, and the future of music consumption.

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Taz Taylor is a product of the internet grind. He trudged the URL terrains creating “type-beats”, establishing his name, and connecting with other up and coming producers like Nick Mira and Jr Hitmaker. Who would’ve thought only in a few years, he’d be at the helm of a collective behind tracks from some of the world’s most popular musicians today? Well, he did. The growing producer collective, record label, and media conglomerate that is Internet Money was a manifestation of his vision to fuel the evolution of popular music today. Serving as a creator behind the boards, a curator behind the movement, and mentor for his peers, Taz has leveraged his ear for talent, knowledge from his digital hustle, and ambitious vision to land production placements such as Drake’s ‘Blue Tint’ and Rich The Kid’s ‘Plug Walk’ with JR Hitmaker, and he’s played a part in breaking acts like Lil Tecca on his hit ‘Ransom’ and Trevor Daniel on ‘Falling’.

The impact of Internet Money has also trickled over into the work Nick Mira, who’s behind Juice WRLD’s breakout smash ‘Lucid Dreams’, and tracks from Post Malone, Young Thug, Trippie Redd, and a myriad of others. It’s a family business, with the worldwide reach of a corporation.

All this work has led up to B4 The Storm, the debut album from Internet Money. It’s the first release in their joint-venture with 10K Projects and Caroline Records, serving as an avenue for up-and-comers to make their name. Similarly to DJ Khaled helping break artists like Ace Hood and Kent Jones by putting them alongside blockbuster acts like Lil Wayne and Rick Ross, Internet Money is helping acts like TyFontaine, TheHxliday, and The Kid Laroi thrive in a tracklist that includes established artists such as Kevin Gates, Lil Mosey and Future. Taz, Nick Mira and the rest of the Internet Money collective play a Steven Spielberg-like role in this movie, directing a star-studded cast across shots of R&B, hip-hop, and pop, giving every unique voice a moment to shine.

I hopped on a Zoom call with Taz to discuss the new album, dealing with labels, the formula to making a hit, and more. While this new Internet Money may act as the precursor to the storm of music’s next generation, with the way things are moving, it seems like the thunder has already begun.

Hey Taz. Congrats on the new album. How are you feeling about it all?
Honestly, bro, I don’t think it has even hit me yet. We [Internet Money] have been working on this for the past three months, and there were times where we’d have it done, then have it pushed back a week. So now, I’m just glad that it’s out.

Is it a different feeling creating your own album compared to producing on someone else’s?
I just like having the ability to take control, you know what I mean? When working with other records, I’ll love a record that they do, but then they won’t like their verse, or they won’t like how they sound on a specific beat. They might not like the vibe, or it could be a touchy subject they don’t want to talk on. Artists can be really picky. But here, it doesn’t really matter because it’s my project.

For sure man. What was it like creating this body of work throughout quarantine?
I feel like with other artists and labels, they were hurt by this. But for us, we were recording this in our old house. We had moved in November, and the corona started to hit in like January, so in a sense, we were already quarantined and working together at that point. We kept it in-house and took a bunch of records we had made with people over time.

Because we couldn’t get into the studio with artists, we had to be more creative with putting these records together. We couldn’t go back to the artists on the album and be like “Yo say it like this, or maybe we should do a song like that.” We had to take what they had given us and make it into something hard. If we didn’t like a verse they did, we’d take one off and put another artist on. Honestly, I think the virus made us more creative and brought the best out of this album. I think that’s been the silver lining in this time, where musicians are adapting in ways that they never have before.

Have there been ideas or projects you guys have wanted to do outside of the album during this era?
We were supposed to do like an Internet Money festival this year, but the virus really messed that up. I wanted to do a virtual one for the album, but it has been hard getting all the artists on the same page because everything is insane right now. There’s still a lot of cool stuff I want to do right now, but I just don’t want to tell people about them right now. [Laughs] What I will say is, if people start looking at the music industry and the way we release records in the same way gaming companies do, with like DLC and stuff, things would look very different.

That’s kind of what it felt like with Kanye’s The Life of Pablo, where he essentially released patches for the album post-release.
Exactly! That’s what I liked about Kanye during that time. Like, do you remember when he was on SNL and was like “The album’s dropping tonight!” and everybody was like “Alright are we waiting around for this?” Then when it dropped, he would change things, add extra joints like ’30 Hours’, and just do a bunch of different stuff. The idea that someone could still be working on an album even though it’s technically out is really cool. Labels might not like that because it costs money to do that [Laughs]. But in terms of pushing the boundaries of this game forward, more artists should look at projects like that.

I definitely agree with that. I feel like this album represents pushing the boundaries of the game in a way where rap ‘subgenres’ really aren’t needed anymore, and that everything is combined in one big melting pot. When do you think that cultural shift happened?
I feel like if a lot of artists that people consider legends dropped an album today, no one would really care. I think it goes to show that people don’t really understand the power and the push that these kids who are making music have. I feel like the 2010s was like the fast-food era of music and now we’re in the microwave era. If someone drops a song that doesn’t want to make the youth dance, or if there’s no feeling or even a meme moment, it fades away. These older artists don’t really know how to adapt to the mindset of a 13 or 17-year-old who is listening right now. That’s why all the songs on my album are short because if it’s a good song and its catchy, they’ll want to keep running it back. That’s better than giving them a five-minute song with breakdowns and all that because let’s keep it real, they don’t care about that shit.

I feel like this era in music can be widely attributed to places like Florida. How do you think growing up in Jacksonville has impacted the way you consume and create music?
I definitely was influenced growing up in Florida. Hearing people riding around listening to Jeezy in their cards. I was into Bink, but also D. Rich, who is a producer from Jacksonville. Shawty Redd is another major influence of mine, and artists like Lex Luger as well. You hear all these people being played at different times because Florida is a melting pot. We have lyrical artists, we have the Miami bass shit, we have street artists, we have so many different types of creative artists. It’s helped me in finding out the science of a hit record, why songs are structured the way they are, and it has helped me realize that there are really no rules in music. It helps you make those nice little jingles. Well, that’s what I call the music we make today; jingles.

On the Science of a hit record, it’s been reported that Mike Caren from Atlantic Records has an actual formula on how to make a hit record. Do you think there is a template for hits? Or is it all just the feeling the song creates?
That’s funny because I was actually going to mention that. I’m signed to Mike Caren, so I’ve learned from Mike Caren and there’s a formula to a hit record. It’s not a thing where you go to a studio and there are books like a classroom, they let you do what you want in the studios, but you have to understand label people hear music in a whole different way. They know what songs can blow, and how to market it to them. They don’t care about a 5-minute song that details the story of your life, they want to hear things that people are going to keep listening to. There’s a formula to that with chord progressions, tempos, there are specific keys for 808s and stuff like that. For example, beats don’t really sound good in C-sharp major, but people wouldn’t really know that. If you look at some of the biggest hits of all time, even when you go way back, there’s a pattern in the chord progressions and tempos that they all use. It’s all a part of the formula.

Not only are you behind the boards on B4 The Storm, but you also play a director and curator type role. I’ve seen you compare it to someone like DJ Khaled, but I often feel there’s an unfair notion in public discourse that DJ Khaled does nothing. Could you explain what someone in that type of role does?
I almost was going to tell you not to classify me in the DJ Khaled realm because people think he just takes songs and does nothing, but that’s not the case [Laughs]. I think the best way to explain it is that I’m the brain of this thing, and people don’t really think about the brain when they’re moving and grabbing stuff with their arms. But in reality, it all stems from the brain. So if anything needs to get done, it goes through me. I structure all these songs, and I produce them on a major level. Like ‘Lemonade’ with Don Toliver, Nav, and Gunna is a song I wrote in 2017 with Johnny Yukon. We took the vocals after Don cut it, and made a different type of beat and everything. There are months of footage of us recording the album. Like, I think people assume I don’t do much because you can go on Youtube and see Nick Mira making a beat on the spot, but you can’t do that with me. But who do you think is giving Nick ideas? People see a beat and think that’s 100% of the song when in reality, it’s only 50%. I think people like me and DJ Khaled are showcasing the depth of the executive producer role, and not everyone will understand, but the people who need to know, will know. Like when someone needs a hit, who do you think they call? They call me. They’re not going to the people who click-in the beats, because I have to take an overall song from 50% to 100%.

I feel it, man. Something else that ties into that executive producer role, and it’s something that I love about Internet Money as a whole, is the emphasis on artist development. It feels like that was something that was almost thrown out the window for a while in modern music. Why do you think it faded for a while?
You’ve almost put me in a bind right now [Laughs]. But ah, I think it’s because sometimes there are people in positions that don’t know what they’re doing. Like every year people get money to go out and sign artists, and if it doesn’t work out, it’s basically a tax ride off. But I look at it like if you’re giving an artist a bunch of money and putting them in a position, why not work with them, opposed to the recording in shitty studios with shitty engineers over Youtube beats? Why not have them come in and craft records that are going to help you make your money back? I feel like because labels have so much money to spend, they see artists as expendable. Like they let them throw shit at the wall, and if something goes up, it goes up. Whereas if I find someone and I want to sign them, it means that they have a special talent that other artists don’t have, and I want to bring it out of them. I’m trying to make the next T-Pain out here, I’m trying to take it to the next level. And with all that being said, artist development is really on the comeback. LVRN has done a great job with 6LACK and Summer Walker. Non-label collectives like Lyrical Lemonade have helped develop artists and I feel like we’re the ones making noise because we rely heavily on that.

Like yeah, we’ve worked with Drake, we’ve worked with Young Thug, but our biggest songs are with people we helped build from nothing. Like when we did ‘Ransom’ with Lil Tecca, no one really knew who he was. It’s the same when it comes to our work with Juice WRLD and Trevor Daniel. We have to keep developing what is next, opposed to attaching ourselves to what’s hot. We often hear unfortunate stories when it comes to young artists and labels, and I feel like that can be attributed to people not knowing what to do in those offices.

As someone who works with labels and has one of their own, what would your advice be to young artists dealing with the business side of music?
I think you just have to be realistic about the situation. Everyone wants to be a rapper when they grow up, and they think that their favourite rappers are getting millions of dollars and that they’re living this MTV Cribs-ass life. When in reality, a lot of artists are taking $50,000 take it or leave it deals to get in the door and figure out how to maneuver throughout the game. Once you really get on, you can get a million-dollar deal if you’re lucky. There’s a difference between the perception, and what’s really going on. Like there’s no physical sales anymore. If you’re an artist, your money comes from touring, which you can’t do right now, or your album sales. If you’re in a deal, you’re getting 17% of those numbers. So I think you have to take what you can get in order to walk through the doors of the game, People be like “Oh wow I got a million plays!” But with a million plays on Spotify, you only get like three bands. It takes 75 million streams just to go gold.

On the opposite side of your label success, you also made your name in the grassroots terrains of the internet. What would your advice be for producers trying to traverse this URL world, whether it be selling beats on TrakTrain or getting plays on Youtube?
crazy you mention TrakTrain because when I was really on the internet coming up, they tried to give me sponsorships to promote them and make people come to their site. But anyway, I think history repeats itself when it comes to the internet, and the internet has always been a saturated place for producers. So, I think you have to just network with other producers, work with new artists, and stop always trying to aim for the hottest people out. You don’t even have to just be a producer, you can sign an artist, manage them, you can even become the artist yourself. Start collecting records, take swaps, do whatever it is you need to do to get through that door.

That’s some good advice, my man. Lastly from me, what’s next for Taz Taylor and Internet Money?
I think a lot of people are expecting me to take a break, but that’s not the case. I’m working on a remix for ‘Lemonade’, I’m looking to drop another album, I want to do artist albums with people like Lil Mosey or anyone else. I want to dedicate myself to helping someone make a classic.

Follow Internet Money here for more and stream the debut album B4 The Storm below.

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