Archives - Music: Page 20
Author: paul carson (Fri Apr 28, 2006 2:19 am)
POLICE officers in Norfolk, Va., raided a record store called Dappa Don Clothing Company last month, confiscating several thousand dollars' worth of mixtapes and charging the store's owner with illegally "selling certain recorded devices."
The raid was the latest in a nationwide crackdown on retailers who sell mixtapes — collections of hip-hop songs that D.J.'s remix to create new tracks — and it comes less than a year after New York police officers seized hundreds of mixtapes and arrested five employees at an East Village record store, Mondo Kim's.
After the Mondo Kim's raid, Brad Buckles, a Recording Industry Association of America executive, declared, "Retailers who are making money on the backs of musicians and record companies by selling pirated CD's should know that this is absolutely no way to conduct a business."
That sounds reasonable enough. Illegal products should not be sold. But it's disingenuous for the recording industry to compare hip-hop mixtapes to a bootleg recording of, say, a Dave Matthews Band concert. After all, mixes aren't bootlegs at all— they're advertisements.
Here's how mixtapes work: Record companies release hip-hop artists' new songs as both finished products and separate musical and vocal tracks. These tracks are made available to D.J.'s, who piece them together to create remixes. These mixes, distributed largely through retail stores, thus give fans the latest music available — and whet consumers' appetite for official releases issued later.
Now here's the kicker: virtually every mixtape features at least one famous rapper either "hosting" that mix or adding a "drop," in which the performer gives a shout-out to the D.J. For example, D.J. Drama's recent mixtape, "The Leak," remixes songs from "King" by rapper T.I. — and the first thing you hear on it is T.I.'s voice proclaiming this mix to be "a monumental moment in music." The mixtape certainly hasn't hurt T.I.'s sales: "King" just made its debut at No. 1 on the Billboard chart.
Every hip-hop artist of any consequence has participated in mixtapes. Jadakiss, Eminem, NAS and 50 Cent have all "hosted" mixtapes. So have rappers who also run record labels — including Jermaine Dupree, P. Diddy, Jay-Z and Damon Dash.
Mixtapes are street-level, do-it-yourself products that have grown into a multimillion-dollar business. So record companies (aware of the promotional power of these tapes) provide music to D.J.'s specifically for mixes, and the rappers themselves — who are often the copyright holders — endorse the mixtapes by appearing on them. Are we to really believe that the recording industry doesn't want these mixes distributed to fans? Of course it does.
But under the current system, the only people who risk punishment are the retailers. I know about this firsthand. In August 2003, police raided my Indianapolis record stores and seized thousands of dollars worth of mixtapes. I was charged with 13 felonies, spent a night in jail and ultimately lost my business. Ten months later, I pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor charge: selling CD's that did not conspicuously display the address of the manufacturer.
If the industry truly wanted to stop mixtapes, record companies should simply stop providing tracks to D.J.'s. The industry knows, of course, exactly who's making these tapes; the industry needs these tapes to be made. Why, then, are tax dollars being spent on arresting people who, by distributing mixes, are doing nothing but promoting upcoming hip-hop releases?
As it stands now, the music industry, record companies and artists are getting rich, and fans are getting the music they want. Meanwhile, stores like Dappa Don, Mondo Kim's and mine are left to fight costly legal battles.
Hip-hop prides itself on "keeping it real" but this a surreal way to do business.
grow and be kind