The music industry is not a great place for the majority of artists. Many can attest that the star-maker machine comes with a lot of sacrifices, sometimes even the rights to your very own name if you sign the wrong contract. Master P recently talked about walking away from a million-dollar deal with industry titan Jimmy Iovine because it meant he could potentially be trapped in a bad situation. Decades later and we are still hearing about artists signing terrible deals and fighting to win back ownership of their catalogs. Let’s take a look at some acts who signed bad contracts and have been struggling.
Master P has always argued that labels do not care about their artists. Because of this, he made sure to be the exception and took care of his artists. Never taking their publishing or never leaving them homeless. P says that labels take artists off the streets, make them stars, and then put them back in the hood to struggle and die. He argues that he would have taken better care of an artist like Whitney Houston, who was notoriously let down by the same industry that made her a star. She struggled with substance abuse and a lack of guidance till the end of her life.
We’ve seen in recent years the surge in labels putting money behind Soundcloud rappers or social media influencers with zero interest in making sure they have all the tools to succeed. From Lil Peep to JuiceWLRD and XXXTentacion, they all became massive stars before passing from silly things that could have been avoided with the right guidance.
For those who have not flat out lost their lives, they are struggling to make ends meet or see any money from their labels. Even some of the more successful acts have been making it clear that this industry favors no one. Meek Mill took to social media last year to call out his label for reportedly never paying him. He claims he never made money from his actual music and has no idea how much the label is making off of him. He then deleted the tweet but left up several others with advice for new artists. He encourages them to ask the record label how much they’ve spent on you as an artist? Then inquire how much they have made off of you. He promised to make his record deal public for fans to see but never followed through. In a separate tweet, he also said he was ready to go to war and make back all the money he was owed.
ask the record label? how much have you spent on me as a artist? then you ask how much have you made off me as a artist? i’m about to make my record deal public by monday just to let the world see what these people on!!!— Meek Mill (@MeekMill) October 25, 2021
Vince Staples opened up about bad contracts as well during an interview with Peter Rosenburg. Staples argued that the music industry is using violence to promote music and feels labels are profiting off of dead acts more than ever before. Staples says that when he heard stories from older artists, he explains how they often had the help of their label to move them out of bad neighborhoods and help set them up for success. Staples feels that now it’s not the same. He says back in the day, violence ruined the money, but now it seems like violence helps them sell more records. He argues that the labels do not care as long as money is involved.
NBA Youngboy joined the list of disgruntle artists last month amidst rumors that his label was blackballing him. Youngboy has been an anomaly amongst new artists as he’s managed to achieve a series of #1 records despite not having an actual hit song to his name or any massive mainstream appeal. Despite this, the label seems to block his recent mixtape and pull it off the charts despite it sitting at #1 for two weeks in a row. Youngboy has been at odds with Atlantic Records for a while and hoping to get out of his contract, telling DJ Akademiks last fall that he only had one project left before he was out of his deal.
The stress of bad contracts and too much access has taken a hold on many of our favorites who end up turning to drugs to cope with the madness of the music industry. Azealia Banks has famously come under fire for her many outbursts online. She argues that the music industry owes its artists some type of health insurance since it wrecks the mental health of so many. She took particular issue with this following DMX’s passing, stating that it could have been avoided if he had some kind of health insurance to help him cope with his demons. Banks also famously feuded with he labels over bad contracts too, getting dropped a few years ago.
With all of these stories, it’s obvious that Master P had the right idea with his label. To date, most of his acts seem to be in good standing and well taken care of.
Do you agree that the music industry is only out to profit off its acts and does not care about their well-being?