ID Labs Producer Responds to Our Article About Atlantic Records Unfairly Compensating ProducersBy DJ Z | Posted January 3, 2018
I have and will always appreciate your efforts to shine a light on the often murky, sometimes salacious and always tricky goings-on of the music biz and in particular your occasional articles that focus on the ‘behind the scenes’ participants of this industry.
Recently you referenced me in an article that called out Atlantic Records for intentionally mislabeling artist projects in an effort to pay those involved less than fairly. I’d like to further contextualize what you extracted from the interview that you derived the article from.
It’s true that the Khalifa album was labeled by Atlantic as something other than a proper album, and to some degree, they treated it as such, even if they inevitably choose a single to market. It’s also true that this was their reasoning for paying me less than my normal rate for the production and mixing work I did on the project.
Here’s some additional context to fill in the gaps for your readers:
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. I knew what I was getting into before it was put together and was literally given the choice to take less because that’s what the budget allowed or I could personally shut the project down if I was unhappy about the compensation because frankly, this was an album of mostly B-sides that no one was sure they wanted to release anyway.
In this case, I was happy that some of the older songs we’d done with Wiz were now going to be released, albeit in a format/structure that meant I wasn’t going to get my usual rate. So I agreed to play my part in the project at the lesser rate well before it was released and cashed the check with a smile on my face.
There are much bigger issues concerning producers and engineers in this business and ultimately this was a unique situation involving a particular project. I have absolutely no reason to believe it’s a common practice by Atlantic or anyone else. [Editor's Note: Since we ran the original story on Tuesday, January 2, multiple producers have come forward with stories of similar experiences with all three major labels.]
That said, I’m glad my few accomplishments in this industry are enough that I have a small platform to bring some of the issues that plague myself and other producers/mixers/engineers to light and I hope you all continue your mission of doing the same. It’s a complicated business and knowledge is key to success as with so many other endeavors.
Ultimately, there’s a lot of people that have been treated far worse than I have in this industry and I’ve done a fairly good job of not letting myself get screwed over, even without having a proper manager all these years in. Relationships help. Knowing your worth helps even more. Being humble and hard working has perhaps helped me the most.
- E. Dan
P.S. Can I take this opportunity to publicly petition for the return of readily available album credits so guys like me have the chance to showcase my work? Personally, I feel this would go a long way to ensure our value is apparent to those that wish to engage us in the business of making records and ideally lead us to a place where our rates fairly reflect that value. It’s a start anyway.