I’m reading a book now called Hip Hop Matters by S. Craig Watkins. I came across a certain part about Master P that got me thinking. I don’t really want to retype that passage, so I copied and pasted a similar blurb from this online article: Master P: Hip-Hop Mogul Reveals – interview with the singer – Interview.
What Master P did finally agree upon made rap music history and made him a millionaire. A true rap pioneer, Master P agreed to a deal where Priority Records would be given 15 percent of the profits for distribution, while 85 percent of the money would go to No Limit. He also has complete ownership of the master recordings that will allow No Limit to profit from future sales such as catalogs and reissues. He negotiated No Limit movies the same way. He worked out a distribution deal with Miramax Films. He pays them a percentage to distribute, but he owns his movies, which include I Got The Hook-Up, Foolish and Hot Boyz.
One frequent defense of illegal music downloads is a self-righteous stick-it-to-the-man justification of “Well, the artist doesn’t even see any of the profits from album’s sales. All of that goes to greedy corporations.” So instead of giving the artist pennies and the corporations dollars, you’d rather give the artist nothing. Okay. But what about people like Master P? Master P gets $.85 on the dollar and owns the master recordings of his songs. And he’s not alone.
Paul Anka—the author of “My Way” (which Frank Sinatra made famous) and singer-songwriter of hits like “Puppy Love” and “Put Your Head on My Shoulder”—also bought the masters of all his songs. He managed to negotiate them out from “the greedy corporations” and made himself a very rich man.
Ani DiFranco is an independent musician who made it big on her own label, Righteous Babe Records. While her overall sales may not match top-40 pop musicians, no greedy corporation is skimming her profits off the top. She is the corporation.
All of this wouldn’t be a problem in the pirates’ defense, except that I have never in the many online discussions of this topic seen any pirate say, “I carefully research to make sure I’m downloading only music from artists who are getting screwed over by greedy corporations. I definitely buy the albums of artists who reap most of the profits.” Not seldom. Never. So if you’re a music pirate, please stick to the other defenses, or just stop with the defenses altogether and admit you’re doing something illegal and possibly wrong. But please don’t spout any more bull about the artists not getting the profits unless you’re also going to say you research very carefully on which artists get screwed and which don’t.