1.18.2007

Big Drama For DJ Drama

The NYTimes has this story about the arrest of famed hip-hop beatmaster, DJ Drama. He was arrested this week for violating Georgia RICO laws.
Now DJ Drama is yet another symbol of the music industry’s turmoil and confusion.

On Tuesday night he was arrested with Don Cannon, a protégé. The police, working with the Recording Industry Association of America, raided his office, at 147 Walker Street in Atlanta. The association makes no distinction between counterfeit CDs and unlicensed compilations like those that DJ Drama is known for. So the police confiscated 81,000 discs, four vehicles, recording gear, and “other assets that are proceeds of a pattern of illegal activity,” said Chief Jeffrey C. Baker, from the Morrow, Ga., police department, which participated in the raid.

DJ Drama (whose real name is Tyree Simmons) and Mr. Cannon were each charged with a felony violation of Georgia’s Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organization law(known as RICO) and held on $100,000 bond.

Basically the RIAA is admitting that it is so clueless about today's music world that it can't tell the difference between a bootlegged copy of a Snoop Dogg CD and a DJ mix that contains Snoop Dogg songs. The RIAA thinks that it is in the best interest of musicians to snuff out their best promotional asset.

It's no secret that I'm completely addicted to techno. Everytime I go to a store like Fry's, I always browse the electronic music section for a professional mix from my favorite DJs. Unfortunately, there is nothing out there for me to buy. I would love to throw my money at a record company that released mixes from professional DJs like Adam Beyer, Eric Sneo, Donald Glaude, Surgeon, or T-1000. The music industry in the United States decided several years ago that it didn't want to fight for my money, so I look elsewhere for the music that I love.

That kinda leads me directly to Roger Friedman's column today:
The recording industry, or what used to be known as the music business, is in a free-fall disaster.

Last week, the total number of CDs sold in the top 10 came to less than a half million. The actual number is closer to 445,000. And the No. 1 album, the soundtrack to the "Dreamgirls" movie, sold only 60,000 copies, according to hitsdailydouble.com.

This should be considered a crisis. Tower Records is gone, and if things keep up this way, more record stores and chains will start disappearing.

And it’s not like downloading has completely taken over from physical CD sales. Despite the hype, Apple reported a 65 percent drop in downloading in December.

Hmmmm. The music industry is sending high priced lawyers to squeeze blood from the P2P community, and casting its life-long customers as criminals. And now they are trying to crack down on arguably the most popular form of underground music today. What next? I wouldn't be surprised if the RIAA starts talking about invading Iran. They'd rather spend time doing anything BUT search for and promote the deserving artists that are withering on the vine.

Note to RIAA: There's a reason why producers continually give new, unsigned, unreleased music to the hottest DJs. If you worked with the DJs and utilized their resources to find hot, new producers/artists and promote/support them over time then you might actually start selling CDs again. In the meantime, I'll be grooving on the newest mix that I made this weekend...

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