Over the past seven years, DJ Mustard has made a name for himself by producing hit records for Rihanna ("Needed Me"), Big Sean ("I Don't Fuck With You"), Jeremih ("Don't Tell 'Em") and Tyga ("Rack City"), among others. In 2013 alone, the 27-year-old Los Angeles native was behind the boards of eight entries on the Billboard Hot 100.
With 19 Platinum plaques in his back pocket, Mustard currently holds all the cards when negotiating the terms of a beat placement for an artist with a major label, but at one point in his career, like with all producers, leverage wasn't on his side.
In a new interview with REVOLT, Mustard, alongside fellow producers Sonny Digital, Rook of J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League and London On Da Track, was asked about his dealings with major labels—the direct result of our conversation-starting report on Tuesday, which cited a Beatstars interview with Pittsburgh producer E. Dan of ID Labs in which Atlantic Records was accused of labeling a commercial release as a "mixtape" to avoid offering fair compensation—and he used the opportunity to hand out friendly, earnest advice to younger producers.
"If you catch a wave and you become a hot producer, stand your ground," Mustard explained. "At a point in my career, I was scorching hot. When you get hot, you make your own rules. You tell the labels what you want to do. If you don't want to work with Atlantic, you don't work with Atlantic. You stay hot, you do what you want to do. Nobody can tell you nothing when you're the hot dude. Once you can make hits one time, you're capable of doing it twice."
Sure, it's easy now for Mustard to tell a label to kick rocks, but for a younger producer who is trying to become the next DJ Mustard, the employment of such a tactic could both harm their short- and long-term beat placement prospects. Obviously, no two label negotiations are the same—every individual producer ultimately must weigh the benefits and dangers of standing their ground, both with the present and future of their career in mind—but the constant, as Mustard also pointed out, is trustworthy legal representation.
"You just have to have a lawyer that gets you your money," he added. "Have your business right. Other than that, everything is up for negotiation."
Wise words from a very successful man.