Is Development the Key to Keeping UP?

As streaming fuels rap’s chart dominance, R&B executives like H.E.R. manager Jeff Robinson say their genre must get creative — or get left behind.

When Gabriella “Gabi” Wilson signed to RCA Records in 2011 as a 14-year-old, she never thought that, eight years later, she would be at the Grammys, taking home two trophies for the lush R&B she released under the moniker H.E.R. And she certainly couldn’t have imagined the view she would have one afternoon this past September when she witnessed 14,000 people show up to her inaugural Lights On Festival as she and her manager, Jeff Robinson, rode around the venue grounds in a golf cart.

They weren’t just there to see her: The sold-out event, which took place at the Bay Area’s Concord Pavilion amphitheater, also featured a lineup of emerging R&B talent that H.E.R. had curated, including (all rights to author Gail Mitchell and Billboard)

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