Imagine a time before the invention of the CD burner, back when tapes were still more popular than CDs because they were more durable and our only means of copying and cataloging music.
I remember fearing the inevitable destruction of my CDs, a consequence made real by overplaying them or neglecting to put them back into their cases afterwards. I certainly didn’t want to pay for the albums again (though that would have been the only option since there was no internet), so I often transferred them from CD to tape.
There were moments when my CDs even fell by the wayside and all I had were tapes of albums I had recorded or mixes of the lot. After all, cassette Walkmans were still more efficient than CD Walkmans back then because CD skip protection was still in its infancy, and I liked to jog while listening to music so the choice was obvious.
When CD burners entered the scene, CD Walkman technology had improved enough that you could pretty much play a CD without skips so long as you didn’t jostle the player too much. People were already ripping CDs to their computers and storing them on hard drives at this time, but it wasn’t until awhile later that actual burning capability became a household item. Consequently, we might have just skipped burning CDs altogether and just moved immediately to file sharing and streaming if it wasn’t for the lack of technology and our learned behavior of collecting physical media.
Binders full of plain discs with hand-scribbled titles gradually replaced the authentic, colorful and provocative ones. The originals were either sold or sat on shelves or in boxes in storage. Eventually, all I had to look forward to was what was on the CD when I played it. I could no longer hear with my eyes. It’s no wonder many of us lost interest in physical media.
Today, with the advent of streaming services, ownership of music has declined. We no longer flip through tiny booklets filled with pictures, art, lyrics and production credits while we enjoy our favorite albums. Certainly, we might look at the CDs front cover as a 2″ x 2″ thumbnail through the glare of our cellphone screen, but for the most part the haptic aesthetic of albums is gone.
Additionally, we pay for monthly subscriptions to listen to our favorite tunes, but in the end we’ve sacrificed ownership. If we lose our account or stop paying, our collection disappears. Not to mention, the music we can listen to is limited because subscription services do not have everything. The collections are incomplete.
Contrary to the latest trend, physical media still exists and will continue to exist in many forms because there is a human need to experience the world with all of our senses. An artist performing a show personalizes it by offering physical media to their fans at a merch booth. A rare box set sells because it was uniquely crafted in remembrance of a great musician. A new generation of audiophiles realizes we got it right the first time with vinyl records and begins rummaging local thrift shops for sonic delights. Not to mention, a vast majority of consumers’ shelves, attics, basements and storage continue to brim with cassettes, CDs and vinyl records.
Subsequently, a solution that ensures consumers retain the value and ownership rights of the albums they’ve paid for must be brought into being. We need to preserve the option of the aesthetic experience of an album if a listener so chooses and alternatively provide an efficient and safe way in which to catalog and store it. Finally, we need to ensure that when music is streamed, it can be done so at the highest bit rate possible per listening device for the ultimate listening experience.
Murfie will take your collection of vinyl, cassettes and CDs, digitize them and make them available for streaming in a variety of popular formats, such as FLAC and mp3, complete with metadata for your preferred devices. When you send us your collection, it is ripped to your personal account for you and you alone. We believe that ownership matters, and so we provide you with exclusive access to your albums as well as give you the option of selling or trading your albums in our marketplace. The marketplace is also useful for filling the holes in your collection. In addition, we provide you the option of storing your albums indefinitely in our secure warehouse to free you of the burden of storing them yourself.
What makes Murfie unique from other streaming services is that if at any time you want to cancel your account or get your music back, you are able to do so. We don’t want you to lose the music you have spent countless hours collecting. We also don’t want you to pay for albums you have already bought over and over. We encourage you to enjoy your physical media the way it was intended, but we understand that advances in technology have led us to more simplistic ways of consuming media. And that is why we are here, to help you evolve and make the decision of what to do with your physical media effortless and pain free.
Send us your collection today, click here for an instant quote. If you have any questions feel free to contact us or check our FAQ.
Josh Mallett (aka RIP), has been making music for the past 17 years. In that time he has aspired to become a well known local DJ, producer and filmmaker. His passion for music and video production can easily be measured by the amount of energy and focus he puts into every project. He is canny in his decision making when it comes to producing big sounding records with cinema quality music videos on a limited budget. Of course, he would tell you that his friends and family are the real reason he has achieved what he has. Not only because they (and God) inspire him to make the music he does, but also because they often play significant roles in his songs and videos.
We sat down with Josh and spoke to him about his upcoming album, Trinity, set to be released on May 19th, 2017. It’s coincidentally the third album in a series of releases which have spanned from 2010 until now, the previous albums titled, Fashionably Late and Sellout.
In addition, we talk a bit about the music industry and get the scoop on his coming of age story, a testament to the evolution of a striving artist who started from the ground up.
Josh Rip, originally based out of Northern Chicago, has now been a Madison-based artist for a number of years. Since his arrival he has managed to win five Madison Hip Hop Awards, an achievement very few can say they have accomplished. His last two albums were huge successes in the Madison hip hop community, and no doubt the third will be as well.
Note: This interview has been edited for clarity.
J: So we are chilling in the studio with Josh Rip.
R: What’s going on?
J: It’s going pretty good. How are you?
R: Excellent man!
J: So, when and where did you start making music?
R: Man, this is throwing it back. This is going to date me, but I started making music in the 90’s in my bedroom. I had started DJing at 14 years old back home in Waukegan, Illinois.
J: What type of music gear did you start with?
Sammie, Josh’s cat just jumped up on Josh’s lap.
R: Welcome, cat, Sammie. *chuckles*
J: That is a really cool cat. Is she a tortoiseshell?
R: I’m not really sure.
J: She looks like a tortoiseshell. They have a lot of personality.
R: She loves attention, that’s for sure!
J: So, anyway. Back to the question. What type of music gear did you start with?
R: I started with a Radio Shack mixer, turntable, cassette player and CD player. I would record music on my computer before digital work stations like FL Studio were popular. This was back when Cool Edit Pro existed, which is now Adobe Audition. I would record instrumentals through my analog mixer into a program called N-Track Studio. That was when I got my first taste of really being able to record stuff digitally. I was 14 then and couldn’t afford to go to a recording studio… and then I got into producing with FL Studio right around 2001-2002. It was called Fruity Loops at the time.
J: What gear do you use today?
R: I have a home studio in my basement. I have a TASCAM 8-track digital audio workstation and a MIDI controller. I use a lot of software. I have a couple racks and a compressor for my vocals. It’s pretty much all software though. I use Adobe Creative Cloud, Adobe Audition, After Effects and Premier. And I still rock FL Studio.
J: So I see you have a platinum record on your wall. What is that for?
R: It’s a certification for Twista’sKamikaze album. Back in the early 2000’s I created a website for Twista which later became his official website. I had been making my own websites on sites like Angelfire since the late 90’s and started my own official website rip-records.com in March of 2000. Being from Chicago, Twista was one of my major influences but he didn’t have a fan page back then, so I built one for fun and that hobby kind of turned into something. The website was going strong with hundreds of thousands of views per month during the time when Twista was in between labels. The site helped his career by showing Atlantic Records that he had a huge core following, and because of that, they gave me a platinum plaque.
J: That’s awesome! So what projects are you currently working on?
R: My current project is called, Trinity. It’s my third studio album, hence the name, but there are other reasons for that too. It’s a new direction, a new phase in my life. Sellout was released 5 years ago and in that time I grew a lot. I matured and came to a point where my new music was leaning on my faith. I wouldn’t put the album in a box calling it Christian hip hop though. I think it’s got its own lane.
J: How is this new project different from previous records you’ve made?
R: Like I said, this album is more faith based. It deals with my struggles and addictions, issues with my family. I wouldn’t say it has a darker vibe to it but it’s more vulnerable. On my last two albums I took a more commercial approach. They were feel good albums. I geared them toward radio play. This new album is me, the real me. This is who I am and you can’t use it against me. I put all my faults out there for the world, to let people know I am still accepted by God despite my flaws. That is the message I am trying to convey on the album.
J: What makes this project stand out from the other records you have made?
R: What makes this album special to me personally is I feel God really had his hand on this album, especially lyrically. There were some lyrics where I thought wow, this is something I never could have come up with on my own. Everyone has their own beliefs. I believe our talents were given to us by God.
J: What artists did you work with on your latest project?
R: The artists I worked with on this album were artists I have worked with on previous projects. My guy Billy, aka Sincere, I worked with him on my last album. He is a real talented dude. My homie, ANT da Hopeboy, he blessed me with some vocals. He and I actually won collaboration of the year in 2013 at the Madison Hip Hop Awards. A new vocalist I featured on this album was Katie Scullen. I actually had recorded something with her for my last album but the song didn’t make the cut. I love her voice. She has a distinct soulful voice. She has a passion. Even when we shot the video for the single she came out and got her feet dirty out in the swampy grass. She is an artist in every form.
J: Who are your musical influences?
R: Early on, early 90’s I listened to a lot of Chicago rap, artists like Twista, Crucial Conflict and Do or Die, but also Warren G and Dr. Dre. And then I got out of that phase and I started becoming influenced by everything. I became more influenced by pop culture and even country music.
J: How do you connect with your fan base?
R: Through social media and live shows mostly. I get a lot of response on Facebook. I also love to perform live. My CD release party will be held at Lucky’s 1313 Brew Pub, Wednesday May 17th, 2017. I will also be performing May 27th, 2017 at Brat Fest. I love my supporters though. I don’t even like the word fan because that just sounds like we are on two different levels. One of my favorite lyrics is that “I was given a platform but never a pedestal.” I don’t like being put on that level where people feel like they can’t reach out to me.
J: I totally agree. So how do you feel about the music industry?
R: Bittersweet. We are in a different era from when I started making music. I feel like the industry is over-saturated. Anybody can record music or film a video and put it on YouTube and consider themselves an artist, which is great, but it’s also a double-edged sword. It’s harder to get music on blogs. It’s harder to get noticed. At the same time there are a lot of self made musicians who are making it without a record label. Back in the day you needed a record label to help get your music out. Today, if you can get an organic following of supporters you might not need a record label because you have so many supporters and so much muscle already behind you.
J: Do you feel the digital age has helped or hurt artists sell albums?
R: I feel like the digital age has helped and hurt. I read somewhere that they are really starting to crack down on piracy, which I feel is a good thing. It seems like people are starting to accept paying for music online. At first they didn’t want to, but now it seems people are coming around… I believe digital is the future though. I knew that back before mp3’s were even popular. I was already streaming music from my website in the late 90’s. It’s a good thing. It gives people a platform to promote their music and get recognized across the world. Traditionally, I wouldn’t have been able to get my music out to people from other countries very easily.
J: Would you be upset if people pirated your music?
R: My music has been pirated. Fashionably Late, I think I’ve seen it on the Pirate Bay. I wouldn’t be upset. I see it like people want my music and they will get it by any means necessary. I appreciate it. At the end of the day, people who are going to buy music will buy it, and people who are going to pirate it will pirate it. There is no stopping it, but I prefer people purchase my music since it helps me continue doing what I am doing.
J: In what formats do you release your music?
R: I typically release my music in two formats, on CD and digitally (iTunes, Spotify etc.). When I released Fashionably Late in 2010, I thought that would be the last CD I ever pressed up, but the funny thing is I’m still pressing up CD’s. I like to have a hard copy.
J: Do you feel physical media is still relevant?
R: Physical media is still important. You get things with it you don’t get with digital media. Interacting with fans and giving them something personal that they can take with them is important. I remember buying Vanilla Ice’sTo The Extreme on cassette which had a booklet of pictures and all the lyrics, and for some reason I really liked that. Being an aspiring rapper, I wanted to get to know the artist. When you search for lyrics online they are often wrong. So having something official from the artist is a good thing, credits, who produced what tracks, I love that. It’s an art form in and of itself.
J: How do you feel about streaming services like Spotify?
R: It’s the future. It’s what people are using to listen to music. Trinity has been distributed on Spotify as well as my last two albums. I am open to having my album on all platforms, whether they pay full price on iTunes or stream through services like Spotify where I get pennies on the dollar per stream, if that, or whether people pirate it, as long as my music is getting out there that’s all that matters to me honestly. This latest album especially is not about the money. This album is about evangelizing and ministry. God has blessed me with the things he has and so the money I make is a blessing from God from Him. He will take care of me.
J: How do you finance the production of your album and your videos then?
R: I pour a lot of my own personal money into my music, income I make DJing and producing videos for other people on the side. My music career is not funding itself. But even if I made a million dollars I would put 60% of that back into the music. It’s a never ending investment. You have to invest in yourself. I feel that is why people have taken me seriously for this long because I am constantly investing in myself. I cut a lot of costs by producing my own videos, recording my own music. I am a very frugal guy not just in my music career but in my personal life. I cut out middlemen and get the best prices I can on resources. But it still gets expensive. You have to pay for help, for visual effects, sub contractors etc. There are a lot of talented people out there but they are not going anywhere because they don’t invest in themselves.
J: Your music videos look amazing by the way. What gear do you use to make them?
R: I shot on a Canon T2i for a couple of years which was a DSLR. Then I upgraded to a Panasonic GH4 which was a DSLM. It was mirrorless, so it wasn’t a DSLR, but it was a camera. And then I just recently upgraded to a film camera, the Black Magic Ursa Mini 4.6k which was a big step for me, but it was something I needed to get to take things to the next level.
J: When and where can we purchase your next album?
R: Trinity will be available on my website, whoisrip.com. You will be able to order the CD from there. The CD is great. It has a booklet with all of the lyrics to the songs as well as a bunch of pictures. It will also be available at all digital retailers.
J: Anything else you want the readers to know?
R: I want to thank everyone for reading. I want to thank Murfie for interviewing me. I want to thank everyone who helped out with my album. My homie, Memory, lent me some dope production. He is a great guitarist and producer. I recommend him to everyone. DJ Pain 1 lent some percussive production on the album. Katie Scullen, ANT and my homie Sincere, you guys are awesome. I appreciate all the supporters who are still rocking with me with this new album, new sound and new direction. I love you guys.
It has been six years since Feist released her album, Metals, the followup to her critically acclaimed album, The Reminder. Tomorrow she will grace the world once again with her latest album, Pleasure!
It has been a long time coming, and after listening to Metals on repeat for the last two weeks, I can say I am thoroughly excited to hear what musical direction she takes next. Metals was indeed a step in a more personal direction from The Reminder. The album was criticized as having lacked singles that stood up to hits such as “1234” and “My Moon My Man”. Slant Magazine stated that the album had no “real spark to it”. Additionally, Lindsay Zoladz of Pitchfork Media stated, “it feels like such a refreshing and slyly badass statement of artistic integrity” but still that “it doesn’t reach The Reminder‘s heights.”
Despite a few comments insisting Metals needed something more, the album overall got scores ranging from C to B pluses from various other sources and was considered a success. The album debuted at No. 7 on the Billboard 200 selling 38,000 copies its first week, whereas The Reminder debuted at No. 16 and sold only 31,000 copies. Granted the albums were released at two different periods in Feist’s musical career, it feels good knowing the artists you love are succeeding in their craft regardless of criticism.
I would agree that Metals really had no “true” singles to speak of, but in my opinion, it didn’t need them. The album is a book rather than a collection of news clippings. The tracks flow into one another like the turning of pages. The print is faded in some places and bold in others. Beyond the words there are fingerprints, smudges and coffee stains, the cohesive bits holding what you hear together, in other words the silence. With Metals, you have to listen more carefully to the subtle nuances than on The Reminder. Feist has refined her art, and so it takes an even more refined palette to taste the notes this time around.
The opening track to Metals titled, “The Bad In Each Other”, is no doubt one of my favorite tracks on the album. The guitar lick and subtle percussion at the beginning of the track carries you off almost instantly. The weight of the swelling horns and strings makes you feel like you’re floating down a “neon river” of thick molasses right up until the chorus.
“When a good man and a good woman / Can’t find the good in each other / Then a good man and a good woman / Will bring out the worst in the other / The bad in each other”.
Feist’s delivery of the chorus, although solemn, has a lightness that contrasts well with the verses. If you have the refined palette I mentioned earlier, at this point you can almost taste that first single. Still, the inflection of her words leaves something to be desired. It’s generally an artistic choice of hers to swing her words in ways a pop singer wouldn’t, but if the audience can’t sing it, the song might suffer at the hand of critical sources.
So what is to be expected from Feist after her last project? Will she take the criticism of news sources to heart and strive for an album more reminiscent of The Reminder? I believe it to be unlikely. I believe she will continue to make the music she wishes to make and will stray away from making pop records.
Unfortunately, my opinion is slightly biased due to the fact she released two tracks on Soundcloud, both of which I recently listened to. The tracks are titled, “Pleasure” (after the name of the album) and “Century” featuring Jarvis Cocker. Both of the tracks at first glance sound fairly similar to something you would hear on Metals. They both have an acoustic room feel paired with a distorted or clipping effect on the vocals, however, I am not sure if this is intentional in each of the songs or to keep pirates at bay. Either way, tomorrow is right around the corner. I hope all you Feist fans are excited.
What are your thoughts about the article? Are you a Feist fan? What are your favorite tracks from her last several albums?
Today marks the centennial of American jazz singer, Miss Ella Jane Fitzgerald. She was born on April 25th, 1917 and passed away June 15th, 1996 due to complications from diabetes.
Ella Fitzgerald was discovered during an amateur night at the Apollo theater in Harlem. She was often referred to as the “First Lady of Song”, “Queen of Jazz” and “Lady Ella”. Her first big hit, “A Tisket, A Tasket” was released in 1938, which was written by both Ella and Chick Webb. She had a remarkable talent for singing and was most noted for her pure tone, improvisational ability and scat singing.
Norman Granz, a famous jazz impresario, worked with Ella during her career and built up the record label Verve Records based partially on her vocal talents. It was with Verve that Ella wrote many of her best works including her interpretation of TheGreat American Songbook.
Ella also appeared in movies and as a guest on popular television shows. She worked with a number of other Jazz artists including Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie and Duke Ellington. One notable album, Porgy and Bess, was awarded a Grammy Hall of Fame Award, a special award that honors recordings with “qualitative or historical significance”. It was considered to be among the most successful jazz vocal versions and would be released to coincide with the movie version.
After a long and successful career, which included 13 Grammy nominations and countless Downbeat Jazz Awards, Ella Fitzgerald would play her final concert at Carnegie Hall in 1991.
In addition to her many achievements, Ella assigned all of her royalties to the Charitable Foundation that bears her name. So every time you purchase a new recording of Ella’s, the royalty is donated in order to continue her charitable legacy. The centennial begins April 25th, 2017 and will conclude April 25th, 2018.
It’s that time again! Record Store Day will be held worldwide on Saturday, April 22nd 2017. This year is especially important because it marks the 10th anniversary of the holiday’s inauguration in 2007.
What is Record Store Day (RSD)?
Record Store Day was founded in 2007 as a means of celebrating the culture of the independent record store. It brings together musicians, fans and record stores alike from all across the globe. A number of records are pressed specifically for the occasion and are distributed to participating shops in various countries. Live performances also take place in various record stores during this day.
What is happening at Murfie on Record Store Day?
The staff at Murfie have sifted through the inventory in our warehouse and personally handpicked CDs we know to be popular or hard to find. We’ll be making them available for purchase this Saturday in celebration of RSD. We made sure to include albums from a wide range of genres in order to satisfy the eclectic tastes of our customers. Whether you’re the curious listener in search of new music, or the veteran connoisseur looking to add to your collection, we’ve likely found something just for you.
Here is just a sample of some of the albums we found for you! See any that you like?
For all you listeners out there looking for the classics, we’ve picked a number of albums from the greats including Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, Queen, Prince, The Police, Bruce Springsteen, Carly Simon, Yes, The Talking Heads and Fleetwood Mac.
If you’re looking for Jazz or Soul we’ve selected a few great recordings from Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald, as well as solid picks from Coltrane, Wes, and Miles. We also have a few titles from Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Lester Young and Count Basie.
Rock and Progressive Rock fans, you won’t be disappointed. We’ve picked a number of hit albums from artists such as Goldfrapp, Phil Collins, Fall Out Boy, Queens of the Stone Age, Modest Mouse, Evanescence, Def Leppard, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Willie Nelson, Spoon and Jefferson Airplane. Of course we also had to include Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” and “Dark Side of the Moon”!
If Metal or Punk is more your thing, we’ve selected albums from Metallica (including the self-titled black album which went 16x platinum), Medadeth, System of a Down, Ozzy Osbourne’s “Blizzard of OZ”, Mudvayne, Disturbed, Foo Fighters, Rage Against the Machine, Korn, blink-182, Green Day, Sum 41 and Linkin Park.
Pop and Top 40 fans, we’ve picked a ton of everyone’s favorites from artists such as Lady Gaga, Keri Hilson, Katy Perry, Madonna, Selena Gomez, Black Eyed Peas, Taylor Swift, Amy Winehouse, Aaliyah, John Legend, John Mayer, Coldplay, Maroon 5 and One Direction.
Hip-hop heads jump around! We picked classics from artists such as House of Pain, Blackalicious, Public Enemy, Dr. Dre and Eminem. We also included more modern rap albums from artists like Wale, N.E.R.D., LMFAO, Outkast, Lil Wayne and Kanye West. In addition, we chose albums from reggae/rap artist Damien Marley as well as reggae legend, Bob Marley, for you to enjoy.
For the Electronic and Experimental listeners, we picked several titles from artists like Telepopmusik, Vangelis, Jamie Lidell and the Blue Man Group.
We also have a number of soundtracks we will be selling including, Space Jam, Twin Peaks and Star Wars Episode 1.
All this and more will be for sale Saturday, April 22nd 2017. We’ve selected albums from almost every genre to ensure you of a sweet find during your dig!
Don’t see what you’re looking for?
If during RSD you aren’t finding the albums you’re craving, don’t forget to check the rest of the Murfie shop. We have a wide selection of albums to choose from, many of which sell for low, low prices!
What options do I have after purchasing my albums?
Murfie provides a service that allows listeners to purchase albums and instantly stream them in the following formats: FLAC and ALAC, mp3 and AAC. You can also send us albums you’ve purchased from other vendors and we will rip them to your Murfie account.
The physical copies of the albums are yours, but we will store them indefinitely in our warehouse until you choose to have them sent to you. This way you can maintain a clutter-free environment while you enjoy your favorite albums from your preferred devices.
Check out our FAQ for answers to all your basic questions or feel free to contact us, and we will gladly answer any of your questions about our services.
Attention all you audiophiles out there! If you didn’t know, the 10th anniversary of Record Store Day will be commencing Saturday, April 22nd 2017. In celebration of this informal holiday, Murfie will be selling a number of handpicked CDs.
Record Store Day was founded in 2007 as a means of celebrating the culture of the independent record store. It brings together musicians, fans and records stores alike from all across the globe. A number of records are pressed specifically for the occasion and are distributed to participating shops in various countries. Live performances also take place in various record stores during this day.
In addition, we are pleased to announce that St. Vincent (a frequent contributor to Record Store Day), was elected to be its ambassador! In the past she offered a red seven-inch single in 2012, a ten-inch in 2015 and took part in a Vinyl Tuesday panel.
The staff here at Murfie are excited to celebrate this holiday with both its customers and the community. No doubt we will be doing a little digging of our own! We will be announcing our newly listed CDs next week before the big event so stay tuned.
Which artists are on your Record Store Day wishlist? The Murfie shop might have just what your looking for!
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!