“Can’t wait for the youth revolt. Kids always have the ideas, but they often get appropriated by ‘entrepreneurs’ looking for a buck,” opens Djemba Djemba on what unfolds to be an elongated cautionary note to young musicians on his Twitter about the inner workings of the industry. The producer’s main contention with the music industry is that “the system is wrong,” built around greed and engineered to “benefit the ‘owners.’”
Djemba Djemba discusses the fate of many young musicians as they’re just beginning to put themselves out there in pursuit of success, calling attention to the fact that industry cronies scour SoundCloud and other outlets for ideas, then trapping them in a publishing deal that “is just as much a loan as a record deal.” For those not aware, deals of this nature often force artists to cede their creativity over to the corporate entity, allowing for a disproportionate earnings distribution that leaves the creator short. He reminds readers, “You don’t need to sell your talents before they’ve come to fruition. No pub company will offer you what you’re truly worth. Maybe 1/10th.”
The artist’s arguments mirror those of veteran figures before him who’ve also made the bold move to come forward about the dark side of the industry. Prince, for example, has referred to record deals as “slavery,” while Mat Zo has also discussed at length how labels and brands have attempted to swindle them in the past. Words from such figures should certainly be heeded; after all, creativity is the most invaluable asset of any artist, and agreeing to give up a even a portion of it can prove immensely damaging in the long run.
Djemba Djemba ends his statement by calling his peers to action: “Artists and fans on all battle fronts: music, literature, films, art, etc, should do all they can to return the power to the art,” because ultimately, “The future is supporting each other, not the industry.” Hopefully, his and others artists’ goals of enlightening the creative youth using their influence will translate to a stronger and more united artistic community in the years to come.
At press time, many of Djemba Djemba’s tweets have been deleted. Among these are his rousing introduction awaiting the youth revolt, and his statement that “the most radical/revolutionary way to participate as an artist is to DIY,” citing Migos and Chance The Rapper as archetypes for revolutionary independent artists.
The artist’s full thread of commentary has been archived at by the r/electronicmusic sub-reddit, and is available here.
View the transcription of Djemba Djemba’s currently-available Twitter monologue below:
Kids always have the ideas, but they often get appropriated by ‘entrenprenuers’ [sic] looking for a buck. Just look @ how SoundCloud works. Someone uploads music that stylistically represents their environment/inspiration. Someone more connected copies it > gets the opportunity. It’s no secret that A&R’s/published producers trawl SoundCloud for inspiration, keeping the opportunity for themselves. Just like Fashion. I made the mistake of believing the system was fair, but it was set up to benefit the ‘owners’. Most artists realize this later.
I’m just trying to tell you the truth about this music industry. There are good and bad people, but it’s the system that’s wrong. A publishing deal is just as much a loan as a record deal. depending on your circumstances, hold out until you have the leverage you want. A pub deal doesn’t get you in the studio with Rihanna. That’s always been up to you. You can find writers to work without a pub deal. You don’t need to sell your talents before they’ve come to fruition. No pub company will offer you what you’re truly worth. Maybe 1/10th.
I’m speaking from my experience, but I’ve met many who feel similarly. YouTube “don’t sign a pub deal” and you’ll see. Music used to be controlled by the artists, before record industry. Ask yourself, what is the purpose of this contract? Who does it benefit? Artists and fans on all battle fronts: music, literature, films, art, etc, should do all they can to return the power to the art.
EDM festivals are not the future. I’m sorry to you, but they are part of the problem imho. This is not an inclusive space for new ideas. The future is supporting each other, not the industry. Just know that whatever you come up against, someone else has experienced before you. This is why it’s important to not lie to the kids. Tell the kids the truth so they can figure out a solution.
Collaboration has always been free. If you sign a deal, u are essentially paying to collaborate. You can have a hit record without a deal. That’s the truth. Right now we have a music industry controlled by Analytics, which is worse than sales bc analytics can be gamed. If you want to understand what you’re seeing, just write it down. Once you read it back to yourself you’ll understand.
H/T: Reddit (r/electronicmusic)