The Brooklyn DJ Terry Urban had put together Southerngold, a ziptape blending Santigold and “Santigold-influenced samples” with MCs like Andre 3000, T-Pain, and Young Jeezy. But the mix’s path to YouSendIt was blocked by a cease-and-desist sent Terry’s way by Downtown Records, the label currently distributing Santigold’s debut LP. Irony alert: Downtown is also home to Gnarls Barkley, which has as one member a man who vaulted to fame on the backs of others’ copyrights!
One amateur lawyer in the comments section of Urban’s lament–which also points out the oddity of having Danger Mouse exist among such litigious company–sort of shot down his “don’t these labels realize that I’m promoting their artists” argument:
On one hand it’s like cool, you’re promoting and supporting and encouraging people to buy her records, and that DIY culture is what kinda makes certain artists trendy and hip in the first place. I mean, how else would the records get played if DJs could’t put their spin on it.
On the other hand there’s a bunch of people who legally own the work you’re reinterpreting. Generally nobody minds if you reinterpret, but you’ve got to pay the piper if you do. Especially with DJs, because you can get gigs and basically profit off that project, that was built off the source material of someone else’s blood sweat and tears. Plus she’s licensing these records left and right, so to have something built off those songs, Downtown may see it as the project messing with her brand. I don’t know, just speculating.
And using the “promotional use only” thing doesn’t work anymore, because nobody buys records anyway. Everything is for promotional use only, even shit a major label technically “underwrites” with a budget for a legitimate LP. That’s that 360 model rearing its head right there.
This is a big issue man, I’m definitely seeing it from both sides. I think you should try to work something out with Downtown so you can do this in the proper way. I think everyone does stand to benefit from it, if all parties know what’s going on, and exactly what’s going down.
I would love to find out who this guy is (he goes by the name “Gooch,” which I hope doesn’t mean he’s a faceless bully). But even more than that, I would love to hear about the behind-the-scenes clearances that went on in order to get the Santi/Diplo mix Top Ranking out to the public last year. (Although now that I look through the non-Santi artists, I’m seeing a lot of Warner Music Group representation… and Warner was Downtown’s chief major-label partner until last year. Hmm!)
Santigold Shuts Down My Mixtape? [The Press Play Show via Nah Right]