Atlantic Records Under Fire for Allegedly Calling Albums 'Mixtapes' to Avoid Properly Paying Producers (UPDATE)
Artists are saying Atlantic avoids calling certain projects "albums" to pay producers a lower rate than normal.
UPDATED 1/03/2018 3:18 p.m. ET: DJBooth has published E. Dan's response to its article, and he basically confirms what he said in the original interview. "I was happy to get paid what I did for the project," Dan said. "While not ideal, half of my usual rate for working on a Wiz Khalifa album is still a much better rate than I would get from a developing or indie artist's album."
Dan went on to say that he "knew what I was getting into before it was put together and was literally given the choice to take less because that’s what the budget allowed or I could personally shut the project down if I was unhappy about the compensation because frankly, this was an album of mostly B-sides that no one was sure they wanted to release anyway."
While he did not mention anything about the other producers coming out to share similar experiences with other labels, E. Dan did say he cashed his check "with a smile" on his face. He also acknowledged that other people have been treated worse than he has in the industry. Along with suggesting that album credits should be released like they were previously, so producers could get their proper shine, he explained "relationships help. Knowing your worth helps even more. Being humble and hard working has perhaps helped me the most." Check out his full statement over on DJBooth.
See below for original story.
Back in October of 2016, Pigeons & Planes spoke with DJ Burn One about how producers get paid in the streaming era. It was a vital question then, and one that's come up multiple times since, including from Metro Boomin, who recently called out Atlantic.
In a series of now-deleted tweets, Boomin stated it plainly: "They basically just want to slave you and steal your music to make hits." Atlantic is now facing more claims about not properly paying producers.
According to E. Dan, who makes up one-third of the production duo ID Labs, Atlantic is using the practice of retitling albums as "mixtapes," "compilation album," or "street album" to avoid paying producers their regular rates for use of their tracks. In an interview with BeatStars, E. Dan explained to DJ Pain 1 that "the Khalifa album, I don't know what they called it, a 'street album'? They came up with some really clever name that essentially meant, 'Everyone involved, you're going to get paid half what you normally do.' I've seen it happen often over the last few years. Anything to save a buck for these labels."
For those who were unaware, DJBoothexplained that Khalifa was a 2016 release that Wiz Khalifa said was a "compilation album" made up of non-album material. E. Dan says he had six production placements on that release but ended up getting paid a lower rate. And while it might have been considered a "compilation album," Khalifa spawned "Bake Sale," which boasted a Travis Scott feature and hit the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Furthermore, E. Dan said a similar situation occurred with Atlantic Records artist Snow Tha Product's Good Nights & Bad Mornings 2: The Hangover release, which was a free mixtape that he had four placements on.
E. Dan said Atlantic "called it a mixtape. They didn't treat it like it was an album, which is just their way of not paying me a whole lot."
Since these allegations against Atlantic Records hit the internet, other producers are speaking out, including Sonny Digital, who is saying that Atlantic isn't the only label people should be clapping at.
If you gonna call out Atlantic then you might as well call out all the labels because they all doing the same thing. Shit cash money was dropping actual albums and wasnt even paying the producers. You can’t just single out one party when all other parties doing the same. https://t.co/YaKPQfOgrn
"If you gonna call out Atlantic," Digital tweeted, "then you might as well call out all the labels because they all doing the same thing. Shit cash money was dropping actual albums and wasnt even paying the producers. You can’t just single out one party when all other parties doing the same."
The J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League echoed Digital's statements in a tweet of their own.
Been said this, but all labels do it black music. It's all about the bottom line. What angers me is the black executives that let it happen. https://t.co/QRrTWBgfjv
"Been said this, but all labels do it black music. It's all about the bottom line. What angers me is the black executives that let it happen."
We reached out to an Atlantic rep for comment and will update when available.