Exclusive: DJ Pain 1 demystifies sample clearance, copyright and publishing

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Photo courtesy of UCAN

Madison native, DJ Pain 1, is well known as a DJ and hip-hop producer who has worked with an inexhaustible list of popular artists including: Young Jeezy, Ludacris, 50 Cent and Public Enemy. He is a pillar of the Madison hip-hop community and has been a source of inspiration for many artists worldwide.

Pain 1, also known as Pacal Bayley, has earned his stripes not only as a platinum selling artist and dope producer but as an educator as well. Since having graduated from UW-Madison with a BA in secondary education and an MA in linguistics, Bayley has worked to create a successful non-profit organization known as UCAN (Urban Community Arts Network), along with community leaders, Karen Reece and Mark “Shah” Evans, in order to teach youth about the music industry and give them opportunities to perfect their art through local performance.

In addition to helping artists locally, Bayley has invested a great deal of time researching the music industry and informing the artist community via social media. His YouTube channel contains a compendium of information regarding selling beats, sample clearance, copyright, publishing and theft protection.

In this interview, we talk with DJ Pain 1 in hopes of unraveling some of the folklore that permeates hip-hop producer culture. We hope you enjoy!

J: We’ve noticed you have a lot of videos on YouTube that focus on beat making and music business strategies. What prompted you to start making these videos?

P: I started making production tutorials for my students back when I was teaching multimedia through the Information Technology Academy at UW-Madison. Eventually, a lot of producers were releasing tutorials on production, so I figured I’d start sharing some lesser known strategies– marketing, business, etc. Because we as producers really need to have more of a business foundation to survive and thrive in our careers.

J: In many of your videos you talk about sample clearance. As a hip hop producer is clearing samples something you have to deal with on a regular basis?

P: It’s not really something I have to deal with period, but I do have to deal with questions about sample clearance. There’s so much misinformation about sampling out there and some of it has become almost folklore in the producer community. For example, the idea that a sample doesn’t need to be cleared if it’s under 6 seconds– That’s a myth that so many of us believe. So there’s a need for that information.

J: How has sample clearing affected you as a producer today vs. in the past?

P: Since I’ve started making beats, the sampling laws haven’t changed. But what is new is that musicians are now creating collections of music that sound like vintage soul or progressive rock, the stuff producers love to sample, and selling them or giving them to producers to use in their beats. Guys like Frank Dukes and GKoop are doing this and creating some amazing records.

J: What advice do you give to other producers about sample clearance?

P: To stop worrying so much about it because it’s likely never going to be your responsibility to go through the process… But learn what that process involves.

J: What are some common misconceptions about clearing samples that you have had to tirelessly argue over?

P: People think producers clear samples before selling beats, for example. That’s the number 1 misconception I hear. And it doesn’t make sense because if an artist is being sampled, they will more likely object to the lyrics in the song than the beat itself, which is to say that the entire song has to be cleared. That’s one reason why labels and not producers take charge on sample clearance.

J: How does sample clearance affect advances and royalties?

P: It depends. But usually, a sample costs a few thousand to clear. So any money owed to the producer from their album sales royalties will cover that clearance fee. And sampling can affect your publishing splits, so you may not get any performance royalties from a song you produced if it contains a sample.

J: Who deals with clearing a sample at the Major Label level?

P: The label and possibly a third party sample clearance specialist.

J: In one of your videos you talk about the word “publish”. What is the confusion artists seem to have with that word?

P: I wish I knew so I could end the conversation. I guess people don’t realize that “publishing” literally just means “to make public.” So when a person steals a song or a beat and puts it on Soundcloud or YouTube without permission, they’re violating the law.  They’re publishing the intellectual property of others. This isn’t to be confused with publishing as in performing rights organizations. That’s a source of some conflation and confusion as well I imagine.

J: What is the difference between copyrighting and publishing?

P: Copyright has to do with legal ownership of a master recording whereas publishing has to do with ownership of the musical components– lyrics, melodies, notes– of a song.

J: When is copyrighting your music important?

P: Copyrighting music protects you from being liable for certain legal fees if somebody steals your music and you sue them. So it really depends.

J: What steps can an artist take to protect their music from theft?

P: I think preparedness is the best method. Theft can’t be prevented these days, but you can file DMCA claims easily when your music is published without your consent, for example.

J: How much should someone pay for a beat? What if it contains a sample?

P: They should pay a lot. The sample shouldn’t affect the price of the beat. I mean, honestly, I think all parties should be reasonable and meet one another halfway. A producer who made their first beat shouldn’t ask for $1500 from a local artist and an accomplished producer shouldn’t expect an unsigned artist to give them a huge advance.  But nobody should be devalued either.

J: How much do you charge for a beat? (major label vs. independent / leases vs. ownership)

P: It depends, but I’ll say this: There’s a HUGE difference between what a major label pays me and what an unsigned artist pays me. I’m realistic.

J: Is it important to have an entertainment lawyer?

P: Absolutely. People are out here signing all types of crazy contracts that really hurt them in the long run. They need somebody who can explain it all to them.

J: Has it become commonplace for producers to undercut each other? Do you believe undercutting has affected your sales as a producer?

P: Where there’s free market capitalism, there’s undercutting and throat cutting and cost cutting. It has affected us all– it leads to a race to the bottom in terms of market value.  We have to take advantages of so many other revenue streams to survive because beat prices are going down every time we blink. There’s no regulation or standard.

J: How do you feel about streaming services? (iTunes, Spotify, Amazon etc.)

P: They’re the present and the future, but physical media isn’t dead and I don’t imagine it will ever be truly irrelevant to all consumers.

J: Do you feel they pay the artists fairly?

P: When I finally get paid by one, I’ll let you know. I sort of like content ID money at the moment though. I don’t know if that’s considered a streaming royalty.

J: What do you feel are their advantages vs. disadvantages in this day and age?

P: The advantages are that people are discovering new music again. Streaming services make that possible for certain artists. It’s how Ted Park and I were able to hit Billboard’s top 10 and sign a record deal with Capitol. But radio and television pay more to artists and streaming platforms have become the predominant way people consume music. So that could be seen as a disadvantage.

J: Digitalmusicnews.com had a recent blog post about streaming and stated that a certain band made an average of .004891 cents per stream. This means, if my calculations are correct, that it would take over 2000 streams to equal the cost of one purchased CD. How do you feel about that?

P: I feel depressed. Thanks.

J: What is the best way for an artist to sell their albums in your opinion?

P: Every way. You never know how your fans want to consume your music until you try them out. Some musicians are selling tapes these days. Sole and I sell a lot of vinyl and cds still, but we also make a few dollars here and there from digital sales. I prefer to explore my options before limiting myself.

J: Do you believe physical media is still relevant? If so, how?

P: Because I’m still selling physical media. People can’t hold or trade or frame a stream.  We as humans like having stuff– records, shirts, tour posters– from the musicians we love.

J: Which has been more lucrative for you, physical media or streaming sales?

P: Physical, no contest.

J: What is your next project release and how do you intend to sell it?

P: I just released a project with J Tek titled “Lost” that was all digital. But I’ll be releasing an all digital free instrumental album, Undressed Instrumentals 5, very soon.

J: You recently performed in SXSW. What was your experience like? Do you think SXSW is a good place for artist exposure?

P: It’s a great place for artists who already have fans to meet their fans. It’s hard to gain exposure as a new artist in that arena. There are so many artists there competing for the attention of potential fans. You have to start local/regional in my opinion.

J: Thank you so much for your thoughts. We appreciate you taking the time to talk with us about music and hope your future projects are a success!

P: Anytime! Thank you.

Albums involving DJ Pain 1

the recessionpublic enemyludaversaldeathdrive

Ownership Matters: What Apple Music users and Jim Dalrymple should know

“This is Apple Music. And it’s just the beginning.”

Apple’s website tells all: a single user can subscribe to their new streaming service, Apple Music, for $9.99/month. Though it is in fact just beginning, the new service has been met with a cascade of criticism.

Users reported some major hiccups with the service, including the iCloud Music Library aspect, which is meant to bring your iTunes library onto all your devices for you to stream anywhere. Users were reporting duplicate songs, songs that were moved to the wrong album, and missing songs.

Apple blogger Jim Dalrymple’s situation was particularly upsetting. When he was having complications with Apple Music, he decided to turn it off on his devices, resulting in what looked like 4,700 songs disappearing from his view. It’s reason to panic indeed, although Apple Music technically does not alter any of the original song files stored on your PC or other locations.

If your music “disappears”, whether permanently or temporarily, it’s important to have a backup just in case. Choosing to buy physical music that you own saves you from losing files, and from being at the mercy of a large music service, which are both terrifying things.

When you buy a CD on Murfie for example, we’ll give you the download to add to your iTunes, and streaming access you can take anywhere. If something happens to your files, whether it’s your fault or Apple’s, you’ll always have a perfect archive of all the music you own, ready to be downloaded again at any time. If you don’t want to hang on to the CD, we’ll hang on to it for you.

If you choose ownership, you will always have access, and there will be no need to worry. This is something that all Apple users, including Jim Dalrymple, should hopefully know—and we’d love to have them try us out!

Ownership Matters: Grooveshark has shut down

Grooveshark is the latest of controversial music services to shut down. They were amidst legal battles over licensing deals with rights holders at the time.

This shutdown was a long time coming. Grooveshark posted on their website, saying, “We started out nearly ten years ago with the goal of helping fans share and discover music. But despite the best of intentions, we made very serious mistakes. We failed to secure licenses from rights holders for the vast amount of music on the service. That was wrong. We apologize. Without reservation.”

The people at Grooveshark also encouraged music fans to use a licensed service. Fans have voiced opinions online, including Reddit, expressing disappointment at the loss of their carefully curated playlists.

“Welp, there goes 5 years worth of playlists,” said one user.

It’s important to know you’re gambling with time, energy, and often money when you use a service that’s not tied to ownership. Streaming services in particular can and regularly do shut down and disappear, leaving you with nothing but fond memories.

The alternative is to invest time, energy, and money into collecting music that you truly own, where you won’t need to worry about it going away in an instant. It will forever be yours.

You also don’t need to decide between owning physical music (CDs and vinyl) and streaming music—what we’ve been doing at Murfie for years has proved that’s a false choice. The streams and downloads you receive from us are tied to CDs and vinyl that belong to you, and you alone—remaining unaffected by any terms of our service.

6 Reasons Why Music Ownership Matters

Why own music in the digital age? When you buy digital downloads or streaming subscriptions, you’re sacrificing important benefits that are tied to ownership.

Buying CDs and vinyl gives you several ownership rights, and with the Murfie service, you don’t have to choose between owning music and the convenience of streaming and download access. In short, Murfie exists to give your physical collection the cloud upgrade it deserves. We rip your CDs and vinyl and upload the music to your Murfie account for you to download and stream on all your devices.

But still, why even start with owning CDs and vinyl when you can just download and stream music? Here are six reasons why ownership still matters in the digital age.

  1. Your music will always be yours.

You can obtain digital music in a snap nowadays. Whether it’s streaming with a service, or listening to digital tracks you bought online, you have access to the music—as long as the service exists.

If you’re renting your music with a streaming service and the service closes, or you decide not to subscribe anymore, you end owning nothing. If you bought a digital download somewhere, you won’t have access to re-download that music after the service is no more. Even if the service stays put, oftentimes you’re limited in the number of times you can download.

When you buy CDs and vinyl records, you’ve made a real investment in your music. These are properties you truly own and control. Your money is well-spent, and Murfie helps maximize the enjoyment of the music you own by moving it to the cloud for you. And if you’d rather not store the physical disc on a shelf at home, well, store it here at Murfie!

  1. The quality is better.

Let’s take a look at popular music services and their bitrates, shall we? iTunes = 256 kbps. Amazon = 256 kbps. Spotify = 160 kbps (ouch!). Spotify does have 320 kbps available to subscribers who pay $9.99/month.

At Murfie, your CDs and vinyl are ripped in lossless FLAC format, providing 1411 kbps of audio quality. FLAC is a favorite of audiophiles who enjoy the highest quality music they can get. At no extra cost, you get unlimited downloads of your Murfie collection in FLAC, ALAC, 320 kbps mp3, and aac, and free streaming in 320 kbps mp3. We too have a paid streaming tier for $10/month—but it’s lossless FLAC streaming of course!

  1. You’re not limited to a device or service.

Buying downloads or a streaming subscription limits your listening in key ways. Many services are walled gardens that make it difficult to transfer your files when you change devices. When you own your music, you’re always in control of where, when and how to listen to it.

  1. There’s no “Buyer Beware” terms and conditions.

Did you read the terms and conditions? When you purchase digital content online, you’re agreeing to whatever that fine print clearly (or not so clearly) says. Sometimes the fine print gives the vendor rights to alter or take away what you purchased. The “Buy” button itself historically implies ownership, but that’s not true anymore.

  1. You have rights to sell, trade, or gift.

Ever heard of the first sale doctrine? It allows you to sell your CDs and records if you no longer want them. It’s a freedom that we as consumers deserve. At Murfie, you can buy any CD, stream it, and return it within 24 hours if it’s not for you. You can also decide what CDs you no longer want and sell them on the site. We also have a nifty gifting feature that lets you gift an album to a friend!

  1. You can will your music to your next of kin.

Unless you own your music, you won’t be able to pass it on to someone after you die. The fate of digital assets after death has lately become a buzz topic. Your Murfie collection, in all its digital glory, comes from your physical CDs and vinyl with ownership rights attached to them—so you can will your music just like the contents of a safety deposit box. It’s yours, after all!

Ownership Matters: A way to own digital media you buy online

In his piece for PoliticoMagazine, Kyle K. Courtney describes the questionably precise positioning of the “buy” button so commonly found next to music and movies online.

“When Amazon, iTunes or any digital retailer explicitly says ‘Buy Now’ and the consumer clicks that ‘buy’ button, there is a definite presumption of purchase, and, with that purchase, ownership. That presumption, however, is not reflected in reality,” says Courtney.

If you read the pages of fine print, which many of us don’t, you’ll see you’re not really “buying” anything. Your content is only as protected as the terms say it is, and only if the retailer maintains your access to the content you paid for, as they or their service can close at any time. Most of the digital content you buy is not protected by the solid legal rights you get when you purchase media in its traditional physical format.

So why do people keep buying into media they’ll never own? Courtney says, “We are attracted — and have become accustomed — to the convenience of rapid purchases and on-demand content. When it comes time to move our online MP3 collection or transfer digital content to another device, then we face a surprising reality: We do not really own our electronic music, books and movies in the same way we do when we purchase physical books, CDs, records or DVDs.”

With the Murfie service, we’ve created a hybrid of physical and digital ownership: digital content with true ownership rights in the underlying media you own. The music you buy on Murfie can be available instantly to stream, and you can sell it to someone else if you decide it’s not for you. This is possible because each album you buy is backed by a corresponding physical copy that we store at our headquarters. It’s up to you if you want to store your titles on our shelves or yours, but the digital access is available to you anywhere.

On-demand music and movies are convenient, and it’s true that not everyone will care about owning everything they pay for. But the main issue, Courtney seems to be saying, is transparency. If we’re not really “buying” the digital content from these other big-name services, that should be clear. Then people will have the information to make informed choices about real purchases vs. rental contracts, and go for an ownership-based model if that’s what they desired in the first place.

In the future, we could have ownership that’s free of the physical backups. This could be possible with better contracts around digital content, which could allow buyers to have permanent and transferable rights connected to the media they bought, in formats that work across vendors and services. At Murfie we refer to this as a Physical Equivalent License, and we’re working on offering one down the road—and when it happens, we’ll be sure to state what you are really paying for clearly, right on the buttons in the shops.

Ownership Matters: Buyer Beware!

Did you read the Terms and Conditions?

It’s no secret that Terms and Conditions are subject to change. When you buy licensed content online—whether it’s music, movies, or some other media—your access to that content is always at risk.

Take this for example: Online gamers were able to buy full songs within a virtual social networking game created by IMVU, Inc. Later on, all the songs were truncated to 20-second clips, resulting in a lawsuit filed by Peter MacKinnon, Jr., a gamer who was upset that all the songs he paid money for were shortened. This instance shows how the uncertain future of licensed content can make your initial investment wasted if the terms change, or don’t protect you.

IMVU argued that since MacKinnon accepted the terms, he has no property rights to claim.

And that’s just it—MacKinnon accepted the terms, so it’s perfectly legal for the gaming company to do whatever they want with the songs he bought if that’s what the terms say. That doesn’t change the fact that, well… he got screwed, and everyone can see that!

We all read and understand the fine print all the time, right?

As a music fan, it’s a problem when your rights are dictated by often complex and flexible terms and not good old-fashioned property rights. The terms of buying licensed content are making this a “buyer beware” world—which seems worse than a world where what you buy is legally yours in a way you understand, forever and unchanged, across vendors and services.

If you want to buy music and have it always be yours, it’s great to go with ownable formats like CDs and vinyl. A lot of people dig digital music, and so do we—which is we built our service to provide you digital download and streaming access to a physical collection you own. The CDs you buy on Murfie and send to Murfie will always remain yours—so no fear here if our terms change. Ownership has got you covered.

Ownership Matters: Swift vs. free Spotify

In a move that shocked fans and media outlets, Taylor Swift pulled her entire catalog from Spotify on November 3rd without any advance notice. Swift was silent for a few days about the issue, and in the meantime Spotify asked her to bring back her music to the millions of fans who were already streaming it.

But when Swift responded on the issue a few days later, her reasoning became clear. It’s not that Swift doesn’t want people to stream her music—clearly people want to stream, and there’s no denying that. She just doesn’t believe Spotify’s model fairly compensates her for her work.

Some songwriters and big-name artists also question whether streaming payouts represent fair compensation. Album sales, unlike streaming, pull a large chunk of revenue forward for artists and songwriters.

If millions of fans are streaming Taylor Swift’s album on Spotify for free, it’s a near certainty that she’s selling fewer albums, and making less than she possibly could if everyone who listened to her album paid for it first. She also wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal about the value of music.

Spotify’s CEO Daniel Ek recently explained to artists that “The more we grow, the more we’ll pay you.” He’s asking people to trust him, to believe the numbers will add up in the future if everything goes as planned. But all this, in Swift’s opinion, still seems like a “grand experiment.”

Swift believes the definition of fair compensation is that everyone who listens should pay, and that playing without paying devalues music. “And I just don’t agree with perpetuating the perception that music has no value and should be free,” says Swift.

Another artist, Amanda Palmer, has a different view. Palmer believes that not everyone who listens should have to pay, because the fans who truly want to support you will support you if they can. And for her, that is enough.

Something to think about is: you don’t have to pick between a streaming service and an album sale. You can buy the album, and stream it also. That’s the service we built at Murfie—streaming for your CD and vinyl collection from the web, your phone, tablet, and more. In great quality too.

Do you think everyone who listens to music should have to pay up front, or do you have a view like Amanda Palmer’s? Let us know in the comments!