What happens when you sign a Music Contract? Ep. 1

I love music. I hate the industry. It’s an entirely shitty situation. I’m all over the fucking radio. These motherfuckers love me. Why the fuck am I broke? You know D, that’s how you felt, like Goddamn. That’s the fee you pay to get into the game. Wow. So this piece of paper really holds this much power. They just spend these kids, man. People get fucked over all the time. Where do you learn it? There’s no school for hip hop. Well, Puff is like my idol. You know what I mean? He’s one of the reasons why I wanted to be a part of Bad Boy, why I wanted to be hit man. So Puff was like, “I wanna sign you to a publishing thing.

I wanna do this, I wanna manage you,” and I was like, “This is, like, Puff wants to do this for me?” And I’m thinking, I’m like, “Wait a minute … If I sign all this stuff, that means he gets paid from everything I do. And even if I produce with him, it’s like he’s getting paid twice.” And I was like, “Get the fuck outta here.” I remember we were in the studio and I screamed at him, it was the first time I screamed at Puff. I was like, “How am I supposed to get any money?” And he was like, “Alright then.” It wasn’t like there was no beef, but then it was like, alright so you about to go to this party afterwards. So at that moment, I realized is a difference between friends and business. He never stopped being my friend because I didn’t sign those papers, but like, shit, if you gonna let me do it, I’m a try. I never told him, I appreciate you for that because that was one of the best learning experiences I ever had in the music industry.

We are about to sign our recording contract. Over here, we got all the Cristal we about to pop. They have fucking clauses in these shitty contracts that say, “We’re only gonna pay you 15%.” In that 15%, the label’s charging you for every fucking thing that takes place. Yeah, you see we’re getting D Dots joint down there now. Proof. The artist has to pay everybody. The producers, the songwriters. Every dime they spend, they either gonna charge you half or 100%.

So most of us, including myself, had no clue what the fuck that meant. All these motherfuckers with your shitty paperwork, your money’s gotta go through all them. Damn, we only getting 12 cents off a dollar? And outta my 12, I gotta pay you, you, you, you and you? What the fuck? Damn, can you at least put some Vaseline on it? Can we have some wine and cheese before? Goddamn, like, what’s happening here? You have a lot of kids coming from these inner cities that never even seen 10,000 dollars cash before. So if you have a person that’s coming to you like, “Here’s 20,000. Sign to me, I’m a put your album out.” They’re not looking at no legal team where like, “Let me call my lawyer and make sure that this deal is right.” You’re taking the 20,000, you’re going to sign the contract and you’re going to figure it out later on when the money is gone. It’s too much coming at them too fast. A lot of people just are so thirsty for a platform that they sell themselves short. You just see a big label, and you’re like, “They wouldn’t do me wrong.” Where do you learn that? There’s no school for hip hop.

You know, I definitely signed some bad contracts in my time. Some still pending. Now, I’ve got a piece of paper. It make you just think, like, “Wow. Do this piece of paper really hold this much power?” You dangled, like, this fucking career in my face and, like, yeah, I want to do it. Of course I’m not reading this shit, like, not to say that, like, it’s the smart thing to do, but you’re young. But, at the same time, you a grown man. You know how to read, too. You told not to read that contract. So I don’t get when people say, like, “Oh, don’t sign with such and such, you know, they be fuckin’ people.” You know, hell, they aint fuck nobody. You had it, you could have read it.

You chose not to read it. You look at the fact, that they put this two bit stats of a minor over here next to the contract. This is all you gonna ever get. You aint even look at the contract. We have a frustrated artist who wakes up one day and realizes that, “I’m all over the fucking radio. These mother fuckers love me. Why the fuck am I broke?” And then they explain to you, like, “This is why. Paragraph 64 clause B says you don’t get shit.” When you’re a artist, you gotta make hot records. That’s what your job is to do.

You’re not making hot records, we have to move on. It’s nothing personal. It’s business. Even as a executive, if I’m not putting out hit records or I’m not signing hot artists, they’re gonna be like, “I think we can find somebody else to fill your position.” Everybody at the label could get fired just like the artist could get dropped. You could go to war with your label and the label war is probably, like, one of the major contributions to failed careers. At the end of the day, I’m trying to take care of my family, too, just like you are, so what makes your life better than mine? You start arguing with these executives, and they just fucking turn the switch off on your ass. Don’t like you anymore. First thing you gonna say is, “Well, let me go.” They don’t do that shit.

Obviously, all the cash money we single doin this. Tyga claims that Birdman owes him like 12 million dollars. You know, hey, Birdman, you robbed me, so I’m going to put on a loud speakerphone and tell everybody that you robbed me and everybody else that comes to you is going to be very careful about how you, you know, they do those contacts. If anybody can take that stuff personal and have stuff goin, they might not want to choose this job. Literally everything in the industry, they will try to get over on you if you let it slide. I’m the type, like, I will pull up the complex, you know what I’m saying? Like, “Hey, where’s the footage?” You know, to be a boss, sometimes, you have to be a bitch. You don’t work a nine to five, so you don’t get, like, you know, your insurance and your income tax check. You don’t get none of that shit. Published shit is kind of like your paycheck for writing. You get paid for when people listen to your music over and over again. Those are checks that just come.

You don’t want to give that shit up. Sometimes, you might have to, like, break a little piece off of somebody, you know what I’m saying? But make it worth it. Don’t give it all up. Ever. Ever. Yo, Kanye, you gonna play something? Yo, West! Kanye! Talk about Kanye and the publishing. To manage him, I had an opportunity to own some of his publishing. I didn’t want to do that to any producer I manage because they were my startup guys and Kanye was a sample producer. He took a sample from Jay-Z. Sample from this music, and then you put it together. I was gonna pretty much let him know that you’re not gonna make no fuckin’ money in royalties with all these samples you’re doing.

I rearranged the deal for everybody to where he got his publishing back. The industry just wants to rape and take. Labels should do what’s fair, and that’s why the artists today are saying, “Fuck you, record company.” And they should. Everybody’s trying to figure out how to get that money even though the sales have dwindled. There was one time I met these execs, like, brought us to the house, laid, everything is crazy and gave us this whole big pep talk, speech. And then, literally, like, I think it was eight months later we went and met the same guys, but this time in the office, and they came in and gave us the whole same exact spiel. Like the same exact speech, like the introduction, everything. And that’s when I knew, like, “Man.” Like they just spin these kids, man. I’m 19. He’s 21, like, we’re young, so a lot of people try to take advantage of us. Yeah. But the thing is, they don’t realize that we actually already know what’s up. We already know. I’m so scared to sign my name on shit.

I’m scared to give you a autograph, let alone sign a contract. It’s kind of like old school verses new school. Most kids now feel I don’t need to sign with a label. They have all this amazing music and I’m like, “I know some people, you wanna … ?” And it’s like, “No. I just want to put it out myself.” When we were coming up, we didn’t foresee MP3’s, but somebody did because in contracts we were signing, they would say things like, “You making records for cassette cd’s and any form in the future.” That line meant a lot. All of a sudden, Itunes showed up and now, we’re fighting our contracts because we didn’t take time to study what was in it. Somebody else did. Make sure, before signing anything, to have somebody look over it just to make sure you just don’t sign your life away. A lot of artists, from day one, they walk into a shitty situation.

Shitty paperwork, shitty deal, shitty people around them sometimes. In my case, we had the shitty paperwork. We went beyond that and we sold a lot of fucking records. You seen MC Hammer lose, what, 20, 30 million dollars? Like, it can happen. We didn’t know nothing about anything. I’m doing this shit. That was my first hundred thousand dollar check. At that point, we just started ballin. And that’s what you do it for. They givin’ us money to do this and we get to go shopping. I’m like, “Oh, shit. This is real. And I’m broke.” You check your account, it’s like, “Where did that go?” Shit woke you up fast. Really, really fast. The day we got our first check, we ran out of gas, dog. That was, oh my God, that’s hilarious! Yeah. We got our first pay, so we ran out of gas on the freeway. We got our first- And we had to walk all the way to the gas, it was like, how many miles? A lot of miles, but, we had to walk.

It was hilarious and we were so happy. Yeah. I was driving, too. I was so happy, I went, I didn’t even look at the gas. I didn’t even look at the gas meter on the freeway. I’m like, “Hold on. What’s wrong with the car?” Yeah. Yeah. Looked at the gas, I’m like, “Ohhh.” Ohhh. It was 400, but it was 440 because maybe he gave us like a tip, too. First pay stub ever was $440. Yeah. .

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