Whoever invented the idea of paying others to do your work must have been a music mogul. "Money talks," we're constantly reminded in the music industry, where this practice is also known as "business as usual."
Case in point: the recent story involving Interscope Records and rapper Skepta. Skepta is a U.K.-based grime artist with a respectable following in the States. He writes his own rhymes and makes his own beats; and while he's no Rakim, his production has always impressed me. Also impressed by Skepta's production? Jimmy Iovine, head honcho of Interscope Records.
As Torrent Freak first reported, Iovine heard Skepta's new single, "Dare to Dream," on YouTube and fell in love with it. So he did what any fair and reasonable businessman would do--he sent a DMCA takedown notice to YouTube, citing copyrights violation for a song he didn't own. Then, he emailed Skepta asking if he could buy the track for his star rapper Eminem.
A conflicted Skepta thumbed an explanation on his Twitter page:
"Just got a f*%king CRAZY email. I don't know if I should be angry or privileged. This explains why the f*%k YouTube took 'Dare To Dream' off," he tweeted. "Jimmy Iovine Interscope heard my new single 'Dare To Dream' and decided he wanted to sign it for Eminem hence Universal takin it off YouTube."
He added: "I overly love the song but at the same time I do understand Eminem together with the 'Dare To Dream' chorus will be absolutely f*%king CRAZY."
After consulting with his team, Skepta decided to cede the track to Iovine. "Being in an industry where money talks," he explained, "everybody involved in the 'Dare To Dream' project came to a conclusion to sign it to Interscope."
YouTube has been scrambling to expunge the track from the web, but new versions keep popping up. A cursory glance at the YouTube comments shows an overwhelming sense of disapproval from Skepta fans. Many of them think he should've kept the track for himself.
I'm not mad at Skepta for doing what most of his peers would've done. And Eminem will, no doubt, murder that track. It's the way Iovine went about securing it that bothers me. It's an abuse of the DMCA vehicle and sets a terrible precedent for the industry.