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Lauryn Hill Releases Statement about Industry Corruption, Her Safety, & Not Paying Taxes

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[caption id="attachment_245874" align="alignnone" width="1024"]radio facts,radio djs,urban adult,Urban Radio,
urban radio personalities, rap radio stations,r&b radio station, hip hop music radio, black female singers (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)[/caption] This story was origainlly posted June 9, 2012. This is a statement from Lauryn Hill about her recent tax problems and her views as an artist. Just like we talk about radio, syndication and many other issues that we perceive as problems in the industry we are not recording artists but we believe in freedom of speech. Ms. Hill's views are her own and they are not necessarily those of Radio Facts (radiofactsorg.wpengine.com) and we wish her the best in resolving her current challenges. "For the past several years, I have remained what others would consider underground. I did this in order to build a community of people, like-minded in their desire for freedom and the right to pursue their goals and lives without being manipulated and controlled by a media protected military industrial complex with a completely different agenda. Having put the lives and needs of other people before my own for multiple years, and having made hundreds of millions of dollars for certain institutions, under complex and sometimes severe circumstances, I began to require growth and more equitable treatment, but was met with resistance. I entered into my craft full of optimism (which I still possess), but immediately saw the suppressive force with which the system attempts to maintain it's control over a given paradigm. I've seen people promote addiction, use sabotage, black listing, media bullying and any other coercion technique they could, to prevent artists from knowing their true value, or exercising their full power. These devices of control, no matter how well intentioned (or not), can have a devastating outcome on the lives of people, especially creative types who must grow and exist within a certain environment and according to a certain pace, in order to live and create optimally. I kept my life relatively simple, even after huge successes, but it became increasingly obvious that certain indulgences and privileges were expected to come at the expense of my free soul, free mind, and therefore my health and integrity. So I left a more mainstream and public life, in order to wean both myself, and my family, away from a lifestyle that required distortion and compromise as a means for maintaining it. During this critical healing time, there were very few people accessible to me who had not already been seduced or affected by this machine, and therefore who could be trusted to not try and influence or coerce me back into a dynamic of compromise. Individual growth was expected to take place unnaturally, or stagnated outright, subject to marketing and politics. Addressing critical issues like pop culture cannibalism or its manipulation of the young at the expense of everything, was frowned upon and discouraged by limiting funding, or denying it outright. When one has a prolific creative output like I did/do, and is (read more click "next")then forced to stop, the effects can be dangerous both emotionally and psychologically, both for the artist and those in need of that resource. It was critically important that I find a suitable pathway within which to exist, without being distorted or economically strong-armed. During this period of crisis, much was said about me, both slanted and inaccurate, by those who had become dependent on my creative force, yet unwilling to fully acknowledge the importance of my contribution, nor compensate me equitably for it. This was done in an effort to smear my public image, in order to directly affect my ability to earn independently of this system. It took a long time to locate and nurture a community of people strong enough to resist the incredibly unhealthy tide, and more importantly see through it. If I had not been able to make contact with, and establish this community, my life, safety and freedom, would have been directly affected as well as the lives, safety and freedom of my family. Failure to create a non toxic, non exploitative environment was not an option. As my potential to work, and therefore earn freely, was being threatened, I did whatever needed to be done in order to insulate my family from the climate of hostility, false entitlement, manipulation, racial prejudice, sexism and ageism that I was surrounded by. This was absolutely critical while trying to find and establish a new and very necessary community of healthy people, and also heal and detoxify myself and my family while raising my young children. There were no exotic trips, no fleet of cars, just an all out war for safety, integrity, wholeness and health, without mistreatment denial, and/or exploitation. In order to liberate myself from those who found it ok to oppose my wholeness, free speech and integral growth by inflicting different forms of punitive action against it, I used my resources to sustain our safety and survival until I was able to restore my ability to earn outside of it! When artists experience danger and crisis under the effects of this kind of insidious manipulation, everyone easily accepts that there was something either dysfunctional or defective with the artist, rather than look at, and fully examine, the system and its means and policies of exploiting/'doing business'. Not only is this unrealistic, it is very dark in its motivation, conveniently targeting the object of their hero worship by removing any evidence that they "˜needed' or celebrated this very same resource just years, months or moments before. Since those who believe they need a hero/celebrity outnumber the actual heroes/celebrities, people feel safe and comfortably justified in (read more click "next")numbers, committing egregious crimes in the name of the greater social ego. Ironically diminishing their own true hero-celebrity nature in the process. It was this schism and the hypocrisy, violence and social cannibalism it enabled, that I wanted and needed to be freed from, not from art or music, but the suppression/repression and reduction of that art and music to a bottom line alone, without regard for anything else. Over-commercialization and its resulting restrictions and limitations can be very damaging and distorting to the inherent nature of the individual. I Love making art, I Love making music, these are as natural and necessary for me almost as breathing or talking. To be denied the right to pursue it according to my ability, as well as be properly acknowledged and compensated for it, in an attempt to control, is manipulation directed at my most basic rights! These forms of expression, along with others, effectively comprise my free speech! Defending, preserving, and protecting these rights are critically important, especially in a paradigm where veiled racism, sexism, ageism, nepotism, and deliberate economic control are still blatant realities!!! Learning from the past, insulating friends and family from the influence of external manipulation and corruption, is far more important to me than being misunderstood for a season! I did not deliberately abandon my fans, nor did I deliberately abandon any responsibilities, but I did however put my safety, health and freedom and the freedom, safety and health of my family first over all other material concerns! I also embraced my right to resist a system intentionally opposing my right to whole and integral survival. I conveyed all of this when questioned as to why I did not file taxes during this time period. Obviously, the danger I faced was not accepted as reasonable grounds for deferring my tax payments, as authorities, who despite being told all of this, still chose to pursue action against me, as opposed to finding an alternative solution. My intention has always been to get this situation rectified. When I was working consistently without being affected by the interferences mentioned above, I filed and paid my taxes. This only stopped when it was necessary to withdraw from society, in order to guarantee the safety and well-being of myself and my family. As this, and other areas of issue are resolved and set straight, I am able to get back to doing what I should be doing, the way it should be done. This is part of that process. To those supporters who were told that I abandoned them, that is untrue. I abandoned greed, corruption, and compromise, never you, and never the artistic gifts and abilities that sustained me."
The Break-Down: Understanding the Modern Day Music BUSINESS 1

The Break-Down: Understanding the Modern Day Music BUSINESS

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rfocus.orgI was recently asked to tackle a question that seems to have reared its ugly head again: "Lamonte, where do you see the breakdown in today's music business?"

I decided to compare our modern-day music business to the circumstances of the Charles Dickens novel "A Tale of Two Cities." This infamous novel is based upon two classes of people who occupied the same geographic space and their two different worlds. One class was the French peasants who were demoralized by the French aristocrats, the more privileged class of people, in the mid-1800s. I continued giving the example, as today urban music would fall into the peasantry class in comparison to other genres of music, which comprise the "majority" or aristocrats of the music business.

"MORE TIMES THAN NOT, URBAN RADIO WAITS ON SOMEONE WHO ISN’T REPRESENTATIVE OF THE GENRE OR someone outside of radio TO SAY THAT A RECORD IS HOT, AND THAT WE SHOULD EXPOSE THIS TO THE CULTURE."

When I use the term "urban music" I MUST include the recording artists, recording business or record companies, radio stations, and now digital platforms.

Let’s break down this true "Tale of Two Cities" as it pertains to the music industry.

The first and most important factor in this breakdown is that the music industry isn't about music anymore! The entire focus is on business and not music. A large majority of today's recording artists have one goal in mind, and that’s to change their current financial circumstances. With that type of focus, the real emphasis on cultivating and perfecting their music artistry is lost. When they lose that center, it affects their creativity in music and it shows in all aspects of their artistry. That's a major factor in why today's music has a dwindling life span. Also, I believe artists today lack knowledge of the history showing how urban music created "cool"! Be clear: Nothing moves without urban music.

Since the beginning of our existence in this great land of the United States, we started singing in the cotton fields.  We created jubilant musical tones in spite of horrific living conditions.  Over the past 300 years, we have been responsible for jazz, blues, gospel, soul, R&B and now hip-hop – genres now known as "urban." Some will say that rock'n'roll, country, and pop music have stemmed from these creations. But somehow, at times, these formats have been positioned in various platforms as superior genres. I believe that with the knowledge of urban music's rich history, artists are instilled with a sense of pride and responsibility in themselves and their craft, and that will increase the quality of today's musical output and decrease the level of what I call "foolishly peasant-sounding music"!

Keep in mind that the blame for this dysfunction in urban music can't be placed solely at the feet of the urban recording artists. Over the past 20 years, I have witnessed the mammoths in the music industry dismantle almost every urban music department and minimize the influence of the urban music executive. Today, that job is nearly complete. Again, this circumstance mimics the aristocrat vs. the peasant caste system … or as Tyler Perry would say, "The Haves and Have Nots."

Let's look at what some would call the aristocratic class in today's major recording companies, with a focus on promotions. Pop, crossover and country promo departments may not have flourished over the years, but they have ALL maintained a level of non-dismantling – while urban departments have been consolidated and downsized. The average tenure of an employee in a pop, crossover or country division, in comparison to that in urban, is 35 percent longer (and, this is according to various executives who have been polled across formats).

From observing this decline, the takeaway is that a level of cultivation that all, not just younger, music executives need – to flourish and to harvest great product – is virtually non-existent. I believe the urban music executive not only understands the art of business but brings a sense of science – insights about what consumers in the genre want to see and hear.

Next is what I like the call the UBER peasantry mentality and dysfunction that plague the urban radio business today. I truly believe that many people have lost the understanding that urban radio has always created the "cool" I referenced earlier. Historically, the power of a microphone has been paramount in the urban community – way before the age of television and what we now call the "internet of things."

Not only is radio nostalgic but, per recent data, radio is still the number one driver of music introduced to consumers. This illusion – that the power of "cool" creation has been taken away by YouTube clicks and Instagram likes – needs to be abandoned. Today's urban radio landscape has a "wait and see" mentality instead of the trailblazing attitude of yesteryear. Other genres and their executives take an opposite approach.

Artist embracement also needs to be restored at urban radio, not only to new artists in the genre but especially to our core legacy artists.

Years ago, I took a Mary J. Blige record to a radio programmer and he said, "Lamonte, I really like this record and I know it's Mary J. But, remember it's my job to tell you why I shouldn't play your record and it's your job to tell me why I should."  I sat in his office, dumbfounded, saying to myself, "this is crazy." This happened years ago, but this type of dysfunction continues today, albeit covertly. It makes me wonder, does this happen at country, pop or rock radio?

More times than not, urban radio waits on someone who isn't representative of the genre, or someone outside of radio, to say that a record is hot, and that we should expose this to the culture. I'll use Donald Glover as an example; for the record, we in the culture knew him as Childish Gambino many moons ago. But, before Gambino shouted out the Migos during his Golden Globe Awards acceptance speech, we knew that the track "Bad and Boujee" was HOT! We've consumed and rubber-stamped the Migos' many singles before. If you haven't been under a rock for the past seven years, you know we have all sung or rapped the lyrics to "Versace," "Pipe it Up," "Handsome & Wealthy," "Hanna Montana" and don't forget "Look At My DAB" (no, Cam Newton did not create that)! What Gambino did on the Golden Globes stage was a great look for Migos, but it should not have been a license – or a form or research – for some urban radio stations to now embrace the Migos in a way they had not been over the past seven years. That's dysfunctional.

I truly understand urban radio and its hierarchy, where most local programmers are not empowered or given the autonomy to support artists and brand themselves as creators of "cool." We should find a way for urban radio to be loyal to their artists as well as protect the base of urban music again, just as other formats do, in such a way that this level of dysfunction is NEVER displayed.

A wise urban radio person once said, "If you are in the urban radio business, understand that this is a war and being on the front line is a thankless job and when the glory comes you will be the last to receive it, so figure it out and let's create 'cool.' " So, urban radio, it's time to embrace the fact that, historically, you have been the teacher to the community you serve, and you must take responsibility for some of the things that you do and the music you play. Urban radio is a teacher and it teaches people what to consume. Ratings may say one thing, but the people in the urban community are listening.

The digital music business is the newest sector of the music business; it does not show as much of the "A Tale of Two Cities" mentality. But through my lens, I see something that is still common practice that only seems to be formatted for urban music, "FREE DIGITAL MUSIC."   

Back in the late '90s and early 2000s, there was Napster. This free, online file-sharing platform had become massively popular within its first year until it caught the eye of some in the aristocratic class of the music industry.

In early 2000, the rock group Metallica discovered that one of its songs appeared on Napster before its release date and the single made it to radio before its actual release date. The group and its label were not happy. Also, Metallica found out that its back catalog was available online for all to share. Several weeks later, the group contacted its attorneys and a lawsuit was filed against Napster for copyright infringement.

Also, multi-million-selling hip-hop producer and artist Dr. Dre got caught up with Napster. He filed a lawsuit against Napster exactly one month after Metallica did, using the same litigators. One year later, both cases were settled out of court and Napster was completely shut down.

Fast forward 15 years. In the digital space today, you have a plethora of music platforms that peddle urban music with a special emphasis on hip-hop, that is downloadable for free. The availability of these urban music downloads is embraced and encouraged by the music business. But in 2016 Metallica released an album titled "Hardwired to Self-Destruct" and sold more than 2 million copies. I couldn’t find one website where I could download it for free. NOT ONE! This is utter aristocratic behavior that feeds right into the narrative of "what’s good for urban music isn’t good for Metallica and other genres."

Let's look at the uber-talented Chance The Rapper from the great city of Chicago. He is a rap artist who recently won Best New Artist, Best Rap Album and Best Rap Performance at the 59th Annual GRAMMY Awards. He travels the world performing on the biggest stages, sells tons of merchandise, and was a regular at the White House during Barack Obama’s presidency.

In 2016 Chance released an album titled "Coloring Book" that was available on every digital platform imaginable, all for FREE. To date, it is still available. Chance and his team believe that he should give his music away for free because it gives his fans FREEDOM. Let's be clear – when it's time to acquire some Chance concert tickets or some of that super-fly merchandise on his website, that isn't free! No FREEDOM is needed there. So, I ask you: Is a fan of Metallica more important than a fan of Chance the Rapper? Does a Metallica fan need to be set free? Why would Metallica make more than 2 million people pay for their newly 2016 released album?

Many would say these are silly questions, but I say that the aristocrats of this newly created digital music business didn't play that in 2000 when Metallica was the example and they surely aren't playing that in 2017 with that FREE foolishness. Whereas Chance the Rapper – although very talented and successful in certain circles – can be found on Datpiff.com, Mixtapes.com and even on his own website, giving away his musical excellence for free.

This brings us back to the initial question of where I see the breakdown in today's urban music business.

We first must acknowledge that we are inside the Charles Dickens novel, "A Tale of Two Cities," and the urban music business continues to be blocked from the music aristocracy. Urban music must recognize and understand some of our current dysfunctional behavior with our artists, inside our record companies, at urban radio and even in the digital space. This all starts with us, as we are the architects of this culture. Urban music has dominated and led popular culture around the globe. We must embrace the love and channel it back into our music so that it increases our artistic measure. This disconnect between consumers and the industry must cease. 

And finally, and most importantly, we must internalize the fact that we determine what's "cool"; we are the Architects of "Cool!"

This story may not be reposted or reprinted without the permission of Radio Facts .

SoundExchange to Provide Monthly Payments to Artists and Labels

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Radio Facts: moneyIf you are a songwriter, producer, or publisher this sort of news is music to your ears. Beginning this month, SoundExchange will provide monthly royalties to artists, labels and rights owners signed up to receive electronic payments. Previously, SoundExchange sent royalty payments quarterly to its registrants, and is now the first sound recording performance rights organization in the world to offer monthly distributions. Most sound recording performance organizations in other countries pay only annually. "While SoundExchange was already a market-leader with quarterly distributions, moving to monthly payments takes our service to the next level," said SoundExchange President and CEO Michael Huppe. "By making performance royalties available sooner, we are making it easier for recording artists and record labels to focus on creating the music we all enjoy." Initially, monthly royalty payments will be sent to those that are signed up to receive electronic payments, and have royalties due of at least $250. Artists and labels that do not meet this minimum threshold will continue to be paid on a regular, quarterly schedule under the organization's existing guidelines. After the initial roll out period, SoundExchange will re-evaluate eligibility qualifications for its monthly payment program. SoundExchange, which recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary, represents recording artists, rights owners and record labels from every type of musical genre. Since inception, SoundExchange has put nearly $2 billion into music creators' pockets. SoundExchange administers the statutory license for more than 2,000 digital music services that rely on it for the use of sound recordings.

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