Are Record Labels Cheating Producers Out of Royalties?
EDM is one of the genres of music that is largely reliant on instrumental production. Most EDM tracks often credit the producers along with the main vocalists. For example, a new track called “Dirty Sexy Money” is registered as a song by David Guetta & Afrojack as the main artists featuring Charli XCX and French Montana on vocals. For some, seeing all of these names may be overkill. Perhaps it may look better if it were registered as a Charli XCX song which features French Montana, with David Guetta and Afrojack credited as producers. While this may seem ideal, a lot of record labels are coming under fire for not compensating the producers of some of their biggest hit singles.
Most recently, hip-hop producer TM88 publicly stated on Twitter that he has yet to be paid for his contributions to Lil Uzi Vert’s “XO Tour Llif3,” which has since been certified five times platinum since its release last February. TM88 proceeded to call Atlantic Records “the worst label in the history of f**k s**t.”Producers E. Dan, Sonny Digital, and J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League also went on to voice their grievances toward the major record labels, noting that the labels will often release and market full-length projects as “mixtapes” as opposed to albums, as a way to avoid fully compensating the producers.
Whether or not you’re a fan of “XO Tour Llif3,” you have to admit, that song was everywhere in 2017. It was in heavy rotation on rhythmic radio and was in almost every DJ’s set at every EDM festival last year, so for TM88 not to have seen a dime for his contributions is rather absurd.
In order to combat negligence of compensation, a lot of hip-hop producers are following suit of EDM producers by registering themselves as primary artists on projects. For example, Without Warning, a mixtape featuring vocals by Offset and 21 Savage, is registered as a project by “Offset, 21 Savage, and Metro Boomin’,” despite the fact that the latter contributes no vocals to any of the mixtape’s tracks.
Now that the lack of royalty payments to producers is coming to light, label heads must address this issue and properly compensate their producers. Although as a journalist, I can’t speak for the artists, this should be a lesson learned for artists and producers to always carefully read their contracts.