A Change is Going to Come — Copyright & Intellectual Property

Musical Group Krutual ; Tajshmon Brooks with hat on

Let me tell you a little story about myself. I am a producer of a reality web series called Love in The Macon, however I started off as a musician. I was with a teen group called Krutual and we opened up and did shows with countless celebrities including Nicki Minaj and Waka Flaka.

Tajshmon Brooks a.k.a T-vocalz with the Billboard top 100 artist Waka Flaka

We were performing, at concerts and clubs before we were allowed to actually be in them. At the age of 17 I was offered 4 recording contracts, one being Roc Nation, who’s distributor is Universal Music Distribution. Roc Nation was founded by the rap mogul Jay-Z. It sounds like a dream come true doesn’t it? Well we thought so as well, until we had lawyers look over the contract.

What the company offered us was a 360 deal. Let me give you a general idea of these types of deals. The label GIVES (which is a sticky word to use) the artist a direct advance, for example $750,000, promotes the artist, and offer touring, but in return the artist most give an increased percentage to the label. When a label representative offers an artist these types of deals, they usually say “It gives the artist the chance to prove themselves as an artist”. However, most of the time it is a disaster waiting to happen. Although it appears that this money is yours, it’s really there to pay for studio time, videos, promotion, pay producers, wardrobe and so much more. So long story short, you’re going into debt with a company after you sign the contract.

My group wanted to take the deal, because they felt like that was their big opportunity to make it out of their situation. However, I was living very comfortably and did not feel that it was best idea to accept the deal. They decided to go ahead and take the deal, however the recording label said if I do not sign then there was no deal for anyone because I was the “it factor” of the group. I disagreed with the labels, I just happen to be saleable because of my style and boldness. Since I did not take the deal no one was able to get signed.

Cortney Love explains in her piece Courtney Love Does the Math, this type of corruption. She states that the real people committing the crime of piracy are the music labels. She discusses how your “band” can be extremely popular and still be bankrupt due to labels not having the artist best interest at heart.

Due to capital gain record companies seem to focus more on the distribution of the music, not the music itself nor THEIR artist. There main concern is that no one is stealing or using the music without their consent. Very recently, companies have had so much control of the industry through television and radio that artist had no other choice but to go through these gatekeepers.

Thankfully now an artist have different gates they can go through and that’s the internet. An artist can brand themselves through the internet. The internet does not limit the artist, it gives them that opportunity to become a producer. Jorge Luis Borges explains in The Garden of Forking Paths, time does not move forward at all, but outward in thriving possibilities. The internet is that gateway that allows for these possibilities. Enzensberger had the idea that we must all become producers, so that we all can be manipulators and not be manipulated.

In my pursuit to be in the entertainment industry, I decided to educate myself in the rim of media to become a producer. I stepped back from the music and went into the arena of film and television. Thinking that this field would be different, but it just opened up another can of worms, “copyright issues”…

To Be Continued