Thursday, January 18, 2007

Will you ever Got it For Cheap again?

This post is intended to explain a little bit about Industry Rule #4080 to those readers who may not have a context for the current mixtape scandal down in Atlanta.

For those who don't know, DJ Drama and Don Cannon were arrested yesterday for making "illegal CDs," which (in this case) actually means making promotional mixtapes with the approval of artists and marketing related pay from major labels. Recidulous grown-folks video news story here. Nahright has a pretty straightforward rundown. I was at Armands records yesterday, and those guys buy Drama's tapes and many know him from his days in Philly. Apparently I was the first to break the news to them and motherfuckers were shocked (also shocked because they say he compensates artist with generous cuts). General consensus amongst internet music folk (as I have heard it) seems to be that the music industry needs these guys because they have propped up the most viable sector of the rap market (the Soufff) to the benefit of an industry struggling with a falling market.

The thing that bothers me is not the actual prosecution of people for making mixtapes. I suppose selling another person's music without their consent is technically in violation of the law, but it is so nitpicky and minor- didn't the internet and sampling knot up the RIAA's panties too? Mixtapes probably have a positive effect on sales and interest in music, as opposed to Napster, for example. Most mixtape DJs end up selling relatively few units compared to LPs sold by the artists. Furthermore, the exposure that you get from having your track included on a good or popular mixtape means opportunities to make money from shows, record deals (to record more songs for maybe even more mixtapes), sponsorships, radio-ops. Plus you get free circulation. Mixtapes were the original incarnation of the guerilla marketing we see with the internet- a viral, word of mouth spread of a phenomenon or song or whatever.

Mixtapes are such an accepted part of the rap music industry. You can pick somebody off the street and they could probably tell you how 50 Cent made his name (mixtapes) and now he's off being an acceptable American businessman, selling snow to the eskimos. Let's not forgetthe Clipse, Papoose, T.I. and countless others. Idolator received an unsolicited email yesterday stating the following
What makes this situation so completely ridiculous is that every significant "urban" release when I worked at a major label featured a line in the marketing budget for "mixtape promotion". I personally authorized checks to be written to the big mixtape dj's, and I'm sure DJ Drama kept some check stubs that would incriminate the same labels that make up the RIAA that raided his studio.
I kind of expect the music industry to back off if they know what's good for them. Notice how he said "the RIAA..raided his studio"? Hmmm.

The thing that bothers me most here is that it's the RIAA (which is a trade group) essentially dictating the actions of law enforcement. As Eskay said, this is nothing new, but it is scary. According to, mixunit has stopped selling all of its mixtapes. However, I ain't skurred, the new Philadelphyinz tape will be dropping in several weeks. I'll kick the shit out the stadium.

Video[My Fox Atlanta: "Apparently DJ Drama and DJ Cannon are DJs"]
[Nahright: Drama and Cannon got Feds on they Ass]
[ Free DJ Drama]- Great rundown on scenarios which may play out in the wake of all this
[Different Kitchen: Link Roundup]

Industry Rule #4080: Record company people are shadyyyyyyyy!

Edit: A few comments on the Fox 5 Atlanta Video: The guys on the SWAT team were wearing RIAA jackets, also, the one square-ass dude standing in a room full of nice synthesizers (you know, for making your own music?) was alternately identified as representing the RIAA and law enforcement. This indicates that the RIAA, AN INDUSTRY TRADE GROUP, is affecting arrests?!? What's next, the National Frozen Pizza Institute (NFPI) busting me for making my own pizza and freezing it myself? Look, the RIAA is on a list of Industry Trade Groups (including the NFPI) on Wikipedia.

Also, what the fuck is up with constantly mentioning that people who sell "illegal CDs" typically do "other illegal activity too."

Labels: , ,