Times Op-Ed Addresses Mixtapes
“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. 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.”
Alan Berry. The Tale of the Tapes. The New York Times. April 11, 2006.
CopyCense™: K. Matthew Dames on the law, business, and technology of digital content. A business venture of Seso Digital LLC.