Atlantic Records is under fire after music producer Eric Dan revealed in an interview on Tuesday that the label re-titles albums as "mixtapes" to underpay producers. His revelation sparked conversations on Twitter that other labels also follow the same procedure.
Dan alleged that Atlantic Records duped producers into being paid less by retitling albums as "mixtapes," "compilation albums," or "street albums." This practice gives the producers less money than what they are accustomed to getting. He cited his work on rapper Wiz Khalifa's self-titled 2016 album, which Atlantic renamed as a compilation album.
"The Khalifa album, I don't know what they called it, a 'street album?' They came up with some really clever name that essentially meant, 'Everyone involved, you're going to get paid half what you normally do.' I've seen it happen often over the last few years. Anything to save a buck for these labels," Dan said in an interview with DJ Pain for BeatStars.
— BeatStars (@BeatStars) January 2, 2018
Dan, who is a member of the production trio ID Labs, prompted others to comment about the alleged practice. Sonny Digital and J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League pointed out that practically all music labels retitle albums and not just Atlantic Records. Sonny Digital said that Dan might as well call out the other parties involved and not single out Atlantic Records. He expressed the same sentiment as Dan's after producing Unforgettable for French Montana. J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, on the other hand, blamed the "black executives" who allegedly allow the action to happen.
There has reportedly been a long history of musicians getting underpaid. This practice, or deception, started even way back 1959 until 1972 with Motown. The Funk Brothers, who did most of the Motown recordings, were not paid royalties even though the group's hits were prominently on the Billboard charts. Instead, they were paid salaries.
The Twitter conversation prompted Dan to release a statement clarifying that it was his choice to work with Atlantic Records. He acknowledged that he knew about the retitling practice but still chose to work with the label. Dan said that he knew what he was getting into before it was put together and that he was literally given the choice to take less because of budget constraints. Dan added that he cashed his check with a happy smile on his face.
"I was happy to get paid what I did for the project. While not ideal, half of my usual rate for working on a Wiz Khalifa album is still a much better rate than I would get from a developing or indie artist's album," Dan said in a statement released by DJ Booth.
Dan, however, did not mention the other labels who retitle albums. Instead, he asked that producers get their proper credit and noted that in the music industry, it helps to have "relationships."