Stealing fame in the music industry, is your label or music safe?

Its pretty late in the evening, so I have a quick check of Facebook while the adverts run. I see by a post by my Editor Damion Pell where he had re-posted a status from one of his many DJ/producer friends who has had an innocent email from a ‘fan’. “…can you help me?” It begins, “I try to download your track from zippyshare, but for some reason it doesn’t let me.” This really happened! And it continues to happen on an alarmingly regular basis.

We all want to be famous, but many don’t want the hard work that goes along with it, so take what they can, when they can. Allow me to tell you the story of one DJ called D&H Spinning Noize. He was born in Lithuania but now lives in America, and has started an artists page where he regularly posts pictures of gigs he claims to be playing at, but actually photoshops himself into them. He also claims to be signed to Spinning Records. But he’s not had a single track out, ever. He also has 2, yep you read that right, TWO soundcloud accounts which he populates with apparent remixes and forthcoming tracks. His bio makes incredible claims, topped off by saying he was voted by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the ’Top 10 DJs who rule the Earth 2012’! The actual article in Rolling stone is top 25 DJs, and No, he wasn’t featured, unsurprisingly.

What I find really interesting about this guy, is the utter ballsiness of his outlandish claims, all of which make him out to be a liar and a charlatan, he was even called out by Spinning Records! But the insistence displayed; the complete disregard for everything and everyone else makes this case astonishing. And not isolated.

Recently a friend of mine had his whole record label identity stolen. For real. Erik Petterson runs Lowbit records, and in June 2014 some nefarious and dastardly types hijacked Eriks logo and name, picked a track from some other label and actually started releasing music on Beatport and iTunes as Lowbit. As a community we were up in arms and the general censuses was of complete shock and disbelief. We wondered how this is even possible, why the online stores native copyright systems hadn’t picked this discrepancy up….but then, why would it have? Who palms off a track with another labels details?

“I had to contact my distributor who in turn had to contact the stores (Beatport/ iTunes) to request the infringing label to be taken down. This whole process took about 2 or 3 weeks to sort out on Beatport and more than a month on iTunes. I don’t think I lost much in revenue as the releases put out were never our tracks, but it did cost me a lot of time and effort to track this down, emails back and forth etc.” – Erik Petterson

And what of the person who committed this act of label terrorism? Nothing. Very hard to bring a case against him,

“With the amount of releases and new labels cropping up on a daily basis its hard to spot these things, and from my understanding the infringing label came through a highly dubious distributor. I think the stores need to keep an eye out for things like this and when it comes through distributors that has one or two issues reported already they either need to ban them from every put things up on their sites or put more effort into their requests.” said Erik.

Not an isolated incident, German techno label Tresor recently had issues where a producer mimicked two older tracks released on other labels but passed them off as his own. Already in a grey area, sampling has been, and will continue to be a vital part of electronic music, but plagiarising a whole track is basically stealing and cannot be tolerated. In a statement issued to RA they said,

“Tresor Records recently announced the release of three titles sent to us by Italian producer Emmanuel Beddewela, as the first tracks of his new project entitled Confucio. Unfortunately, we were recently made aware that two of the three titles in question had been produced using works from other producers. While the artist in question has not commented to us or the public on the matter, Tresor’s standpoint on the issue is clear. The artist’s performance at the corresponding release event at Tresor was cancelled this past Friday, April 18th. Tresor.276 stock is also currently getting recalled and deleted, as well as taken down from digital stores. The foundation of these tracks come from producers we regularly work with and truly respect, such as Stanislav Tolkachev and Alexey Volkov. We would like to thank them publicly for all their support, understanding and assistance.

With the label’s mission being to bring new and exciting releases to our listeners and listening to all the demos we receive, our mistake was to engage an artist we were not entirely familiar with. Sampling, remixing, reworking and re-editing are techniques that find themselves at the core of electronic music. With the perspective Tresor has acquired over the last 25 years, controversies of this nature have always existed around the technique and have both positively and negatively affected the industry. Unfortunately, these examples go beyond this and we apologise to our fans, supporters and the artists involved once more.”

Despite the artists insistence it was not intentional, Tresor removed the release from sale, but its an interesting situation nonetheless. As an A&R myself, theres a certain expectation placed upon us (mostly in our heads) that we should know every track out there. Of course, thats impossible, and eventually this kind of thing happens. Its just by luck that someone put two and two together here, and probably because its such a large label.

As a community I think we have to be vigilant and aware. These kids aren’t completely to blame for their actions, we, the media, have played a part in the systematic destruction of society. We now place more emphasis on uploading cat pictures to our social media networks than giving money to charities, so its with little surprise, given the vast attention placed on celebrity life that the kids put all their hopes and dreams on becoming famous (or infamous) for just being seen in the right places doing the right things, rather than working hard and dedicating yourself to a life path.

We need to get back to the time when acid house’s dream was for every kid to be able to make music for themselves, instead of the situation now where they think they need to make it to get rich. The art has been lost on the greedy…

Image – Getty Images

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