Here’s a great clip of Just Blaze breaking down both sides of the perpetual conflict between artists and their record labels and the bloggers who post their music.
I think Just explained it pretty damn well, but alot of thoughts about this very subject have been floating around in my head lately, so I figured this was as good a time as any to let them loose.
I can’t speak for every blogger out there, but I can say that personally, I am well aware of the fact that pretty much all of the music we post here, we are posting at the pleasure of the artists and labels. Simply put, the artists and labels have every legal right to C&D (C&D = Cease and Desist: the legal warning that copyright holders send out to websites who have posted their material) us into oblivion if they saw fit to do so. So we know that. But we also know that they choose not to do so. And we know that 90% of the music being posted on rap blogs nowadays comes from, or is sanctioned by, the labels or within the artists camp.
But then there is the issue of unsanctioned, premature leaks. These are the songs we are most likely to get C&D’d for. These are the tracks that are unfinished, or were stolen and leaked against the wishes of the artist or simply aren’t supposed to be out yet. So we’ll get our hands on them, post them and then end up having to take the song down. And it’s at this point that some of us go on Twitter to complain (read: cry), or start drafting a big angry blog post about why the label that threatened us is the devil, or whatever. And then neutral folks who don’t blog or record music (civilians) read those rants and say to themselves: “Shut the fuck up crybaby blogger, you have nothing to complain about, it was never your music to post in the first place, yadda yadda.”
And I guess that’s understandable. We probably do come across like colossal douchebags at times. But what folks don’t understand is that there’s usually a deeper, underlying reason for our anger. For one, how the fuck are we supposed to know if a song isn’t finished, or wasn’t sanctioned for release or whatever? If you don’t pre-emptively tell us, “hey, you might come across a leaked copy of so-and-so’s song with so-and-so, can you please refrain from posting it”, then how are we supposed to know? The vast majority of you label people don’t communicate with us on that level, but yet you have no problem sending us unsolicited, boilerplate emails when you have some wack radio single you want posted everywhere. So we get a song, post it and then turn around to a fucking legal threat from some fuck head suit in our inbox and we momentarily spazz. So we’re human, fucking sue us (kidding, please don’t).
I have also been known to spazz after being C&D’d for posting a song that I didn’t initially know wasn’t sanctioned for release, but could really only benefit from being posted across the blogs. Those situations are tricky because I know I’m legally in the wrong, but the overwhelming stupidity and lack of internet savvy on the part of the people threatening me just makes me utterly irate. And while we’re on the subject of lack of internet savvy, you know what else is wack? When a song leaks on 5000 sites and only a handful of popular blogs are C&D’d. Then you ask somebody at the label why you’re being singled out and they tell you because your site is so big. Oh so it’s cool if the song leaks to 2,000 people, but not 20,000? And now I’m the only asshole who doesn’t have the song posted so I look like I’m slipping. How does that make sense? Oh and while we were discussing it, another 1000 people downloaded it and posted it on their blogs, and Twitter, and so on and so on…
NEWSFLASH: Once a song has been leaked onto the internet, it’s a wrap. It’s over. There’s nothing you can do about it, and by asking a few bloggers to take it down, all you’re doing is pissing off those few bloggers in your futile attempt to stop the unstoppable. If you go online and see that your song leaked, the best thing you can do is fume for a minute, get it out your system and keep it moving. Anything else is a waste of everybody’s time. You can continue to deny this undisputable fact or you can accept it, it’s up to you. I know the internet is this big mysterious beast that is sometimes beneficial to you and sometimes not, but you are never going to be able to control it and once you understand and accept that, we can all move forward.
Then there’s the situation where a person that you know for a fact works for the artist or label sends you a track, and you post it and you get C&D’d anyway. Really? You send me this shit to post so you can get your buzz up, I post it and I’m rewarded with a legal threat? Stop it 5.
As somebody who’s been dealing with this shit for 6+ years now, I can tell you right now that this is just a manifestation of the laziness that permeates the music industry. It’s just a continuation of the same old theme where they love blogs when they can serve as a promotional shortcut, but don’t really respect them beyond that. And I guess you could say we’ve allowed that mentality to flourish. We should’ve played hard ball from day one, but we didn’t or weren’t in a position to, and now here we are. I could go on for days with different scenarios, but the point is, we’re usually not just complaining without (what we feel is) good reason. It is certainly not from a sense of entitlement.
Which brings me to my next point. It has come to my attention that Lupe Fiasco and several surly looking gentlemen recently approached the homie Shake from 2DopeBoyz to discuss the matter of dude’s music continuously leaking onto the interwebs. I understand that what started out as a conversation deteriorated into yelling and screaming and some physical threats were made. Before I even go any further, let me just say that this type of shit is unacceptable.
I wasn’t there and I don’t know where Lupe is getting his information from, but I can say with absolute certainty that nobody from the NMC is hacking into email accounts or doing anything even remotely shady to obtain unreleased music. As a matter of fact, I’m willing to bet big money that whoever is leaking your shit is closer to you then Shake or any other blogger will probably ever be. But yet, here you are physically threatening a blogger because you saw the song on one of our sites so it must’ve been a blogger who stole the shit right? Not fucking cool.
Again, I can only speak for myself here, but I’d tell any artist who even thinks about coming in my face with any of that “you leaked my music” rah-rah bullshit: you’d better have some damn good proof before the thought even crosses your mind. Just ask yourself: “Is this worth it? Am I certain this guy did this, or am I just going off what some knucklehead in my entourage thinks may have happened? Am I sure that once I confront or physically assault this guy, that I will never for the rest of my life be in a position to get touched back? Can each one of these goons I’m with say the same thing?”
I’m just sayin, because this isn’t the 90’s, we’re not some African bootleggers on Canal St. and you ain’t Tupac nigga.
Look, I’m not an artist, so I’m not gonna sit here and act like I understand what it must be like to see your unfinished work or work that was never meant for public consumption, leak all over the internet. I would imagine that it must suck and I feel you on that. But feel me for a minute. Are there bloggers out there who would leak their own grandmother’s last will and testament if they thought it would bring them some kind of name recognition? Of course there are. But from what I’ve seen in 6+ years of blogging, the percentage of bloggers who do this shit out of love for the music far outnumbers the few scavengers out to make a name for themselves. So when we get our hands on an unreleased gem, we want to listen to it and share it and dissect it with other like minded folks because we’re passionate about you as an artist and rap music in general.
I can also say from experience that the true fans, the people who will either buy that album or single even if they already downloaded it for free, and who will buy that concert ticket no matter what, are not reading those other blogs. So when you generalize all bloggers as thirstbucket music pirates out for easy fame and fortune, you’re doing us and yourself a disservice. That whole notion is counterproductive to everything that we’re all trying to do here. Like Just said in the video, let’s find some way to make this work for everybody. I don’t post entire retail albums on my site and never have. I don’t allow people in the comments to post entire retail albums on my site either. I also include iTunes and Amazon buy links when requested or if I am so inclined. At the end of the day, we are fans of these artists and I don’t think anybody, bloggers or fans, is trying to just straight up disrespect their wishes and their pockets.
That being said though, here’s a little dose of reality for you artist types, because clearly when some of you reach a certain level things start to get a little fuzzy.
You know those bloggers who I mentioned before who are just out for a name, and post your whole album two weeks before it drops and refuse to take down leaks? Those dudes, and a whole bunch of other people that occasionally enjoy your music, don’t give a fuck about your wishes or your album sales. I know this because I used to be one of those people. In case you haven’t looked outside recently, this country is a couple of years deep into a massive recession and niggas are out here hurting. So if somebody downloads your shit to save themselves 12 bucks at the record store, maybe it’s because they have no choice. Are you really gonna sit there and chastise us like you never fucking dubbed a cassette or CD off one of your mans before?
The same thing goes for your unreleased/unfinished tracks. There are a lot of folks who like your music on some level but don’t really give a fuck about you as an artist or person. Those folks might even buy your album, but they certainly don’t give two shits that you didn’t want that 5 year old freestyle to ever be heard. Shit, right now they’re probably about to throw that shit on a Best of You mixtape and go sell it in school for 5 dollars a pop while you fly around in your private jet. So you really have to understand that there’s a whole bunch of people out there who don’t give a fuck about your pockets. Just keep that in mind the next time you decide to open your mouth about losing out on album sales or not charting as high as you wanted to. This is Hip-Hop fam, a culture built on hustling and getting over by any means necessary. A lot of you niggas got rich rapping about this same exact mentality, yet when it comes back around full circle it’s a problem?
Just some food for thought.