Sliding through loopholes: How record labels unfairly compensate producers


Typically, a music label gains power in correlation with the amount of impact their artist achieves. In return, the artist enjoys the benefits of promoted tours, endorsements, sponsorships and streaming. Indeed, the link between music label and artist has been well-documented. However, throughout the music production process, there are countless entities that do not receive inclusion credit or proper retribution. Therefore, producers often suffer the consequences of music labels who use manipulative antics to influence what’s important to them: maximum profit.

Do The Right Thing

In an ideal world, the one who produces a song should own 50 percent of the product’s copyright. 

A proper connection between a producer and an artist is supposed to push the limitations of the genre. Above all, the dynamic combination that occurs between producer and artist symbolizes the ability to push culture forward through original sound and collaboration. Currently, there is a major discrepancy between producers who push sound forward and those who replicate.

The dynamics of song production include various types of instrumentation, creative placement and sound combinations. For a producer to maintain originality, it is important to understand, in totality, the roots, and backgrounds of where their sounds have derived. The beginner producer should avoid sampling due to the lengthy clearance process and amount of handlers involved.

Creating a catalog

In a world saturated with “type beats,” a producer’s most cherished possession is his or her catalog. The number one contributing factor to a distinguished catalog relies upon innovation. Through observation and consumption, producers often craft their initial catalog in conjunction with specific sonic preferences.

The producer’s role within a streaming-dominant music industry deserves much more acclaim than it receives. Record labels and artists consistently rework the methods by which revenue becomes accrued. Throughout the process, labels and artists develop new strategies to capitalize off of the shifting habits of music consumers. In the meantime, producers slip through the cracks of the aforementioned foundation. The issues encountered by producers directly resemble our country’s economic inequalities. The top 1 percent of producers receive the major placement opportunities while the rest are left to wade through the wealth distribution gaps.

 Proper recognition

In order to avoid exploitation, a tag is an important component of the modern producer’s repertoire. Tag placement at the beginning of the beat creates brand recognition and protects the sanctity of the producer’s creative output. There are three fundamental traits that every producer should prioritize: Recognizable tags, quality sound characteristics and the ability to differentiate between their associates.

Unfortunately, countless producers follow that exact fundamental model and remain unrecognized, or undercompensated or both. Recently, Marvel Alexander and Snugsworth (producers of “Shabba” by A$AP Ferg) disclosed that they only earned $1,000 between them for their production contribution. “Shabba” eventually became the second single on Ferg’s RCA Records debut project. Due to the fact that RCA Records intentionally mislabeled “Trap Lord” as a mixtape they were able to foster a significantly lesser amount of reimbursement for Alexander and Snugsworth.

Ultimately, the entire situation comes down to mutual respect. To transform the industry standard, some producers seek synchronization among each other to formulate some sort of a collective union. Until a legal standard becomes established, these unethical practices will persist.


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