In recent years, critics, fans and artists alike have lamented the turning tide in hip hop. It is commercially successful, it is the voice of a generation and it is the world’s music—all positive things. But, despite its diverse audience, it often seems like the artists themselves are not as diverse.
Last weekend, during the whole rancidpunk controversy, I was away for a couple of days in London, checking on the forum via my phone. I was with my girlfriend sitting on a table outside a pub by St Martin's Lane in the West End having a drink as this guy approached us. As soon as I saw him coming I saw the opportunity. He was a struggling artist selling his music album.
He had a dozen copies of his CD in his bag and was going person to person, table to table. He was dressed in the style of hip hop artists, with sunglasses on even tough it was dark (which he later took off revealing a bruised eye). I started asking about whether he was doing ok with his sales, whether he made any money on live performances, etc. At this point he sat down with us and we got to chat. I first told him I was probably not going to buy his CD because that is not my type of music. I also did not mention the PPUK until the very end of our chat.
He was open minded, willing to talk, and quite articulate, so I asked: "Do you think that if all music was distributed for free and artists made money from performances only, you would have a better chance of succeding?" He said: "No, the industry would disrupt this levelled playing field by signing a handful of artists for their performance rights instead and heavily promoting them." He went on: "Signed artists have a bad deal with their labels, for they also sign away a lot of their performance rights. Some former X-Factor winner gave up his music career due to the terms of his contract which basically took a massive cut out of any sort of music related activity he did for several years." He also claimed to know a Leona Lewis relative and told me that in spite of all success, she was struggling to buy a flat. He told me he was from Zimbabwe but came to UK at age 14. I insisted a little: "Imagine that the public opinion changed and that people started to be against the idea of a middle man -- imagine if people developed this ethos of wanting to buy straight from the artists." At this point, he was very sympathetic to what I was saying, and told me amogst other things something I really didn't realise: that iTunes charges him £20 a month for him to have his music up there.
He works with this Trademark Records http://trademarkedmusic.co.uk, which he claims to have set up with a few friends. The website has a few dead links and not a great deal of helpful information.
Anyway. At the end of our chat (some 10mins) I bought his album (£5) and told him - "Listen, have you ever heard of the Pirate Party? I think you should check us out. The PPUK is very much interested in people in your position." After I explained that the PPUK would promote the idea people connecting more directly with the artists, with fewer middle men, he replied: "Yeah, I am all for that! Do you have a T-Shirt I can wear on my performances?" On arriving home, I sent him an email, to which he responded. I am posting this exchange below. I hope people find this useful and suggest a line of action for the party.
> We've met the other day and I bought one of your albums.
> As I've explained, the Pirate Party is not the same as the Pirate Bay.
> The Pirate Party does not encourage people to do anything illegal. We
> want to change copyright laws to make them more reasonable.
> The Pirate Party would be very interested in getting to know artists
> who are not signed by big record labels and potentially we could reach
> agreements to promote each other, to the benefit of both the artist
> and the party. Please contact me back. I am interested in talking to
> you and any other musicians in a similar situation to yours.
i remember you and i i recall you would like to shift public perception so that pressure can be mounted in respect to companies towards a change in policy where the dynamics of producing media and content are concerned. holla
am definitely interested but due to the critical state i am in financially i will only be able to get in touch with you via email for the immediate short while as i try and sort a mobile number out yes im that broke ...
anyways how is it all going ?