An Album Leaks, Good Or Bad Situation For A Producer?

Props to Hip-Hop Is Read for a dope interview with Infamous, who along with Drew Correa, produced “Mr. Carter” for Lil Wayne. Now I know everyone on this side is sick of hearing about Lil Wayne (myself included), but there’s a portion of the interview that deals with the The Carter III leaking, and I think Infamous brings up a great point about other people who contribute to a project, particularly producers and engineers, that most people skim right over when addressing leaks.

Infamous says,

“I think people fail to see how much damage leaking an album does to the industry and the economy as a whole. The most common thing I hear from people when an album leaks is: ‘So what?! They’re rich already!’ But people fail to see that there’s a bunch of producers that lose money. Some of these producers are broke and an album release could really be their big break. When an album leaks, it fucks them up big time. Also, you’ve got to take into account that there’s people working in factories manufacturing the CDs, artists making the art work, engineers mixing the records, and all these people need to get paid. It’s never just the artists that leaking records fucks over. When ‘Light Up My La La’ leaked, I was devastated ’cause that was my big break. Luckily, I landed ‘Mr. Carter’ thanks to Drew and Fabian and everyone else from Cash Money, so I got really lucky.”

Lucky is the ideal word, because what about the other producers who had songs leak who didn’t have tracks that made the album’s final cut? They’re shit out of luck on their bread, unless someone pushed an invoice through and at least got them the front end of their money. The upcoming producer, the guy who is on his grind making 5 tracks a day and who’s manager is sending them out to every single person who will take a listen, they have so much to benefit from an artist cutting vocals to their record and a song being completed and included on an album that actually makes it to see a proper release. It’s not always the producer’s “big break” per se, but the more work a producer has out there in the marketplace, the more leverage they have moving forward.

When songs get leaked, even though people may love the track, if the song doesn’t make the final cut of an album, that producer may never get credited and nobody knows they even did the song. I didn’t know Infamous produced the “Light Up My La La” record until I read this interview!

Sometimes the artists themselves play a role in tracks leaking, and you as a producer don’t want to jeopardize your relationship with the artist, so it’s kind of a tough position to be in. You basically gotta place multiple songs just to get 1 that makes the official release. Even then, there’s no guarantee it’ll make it. That’s frustrating.

Also, when an album like The Carter III leaks, even though it sold a million copies the first week out, it was a rare thing. Because most projects these days are leaking and then going on to not sell much. So if you’re placing tracks on albums that don’t sell a milli, you’re shit out of luck. Because you need that album to sell for you to earn mechanical and record royalties. Unless you’re song is a single, and then of course you’ll get that BMI, ASCAP, or SESAC performance royalty bread flowing in. But other than that, you’ve gotta hope and pray that album sells so you some money on the back end, because them front end checks sure haven’t kept up with the rate of inflation in this country (producers were getting paid on average 8-10k a track in 1996, back when 8-10k was a lot of bread. In 2008 they’re getting the same or less? How does that make sense?).

All in all, album leaks hurt the other people involved with an artist’s project way more than the artist. The artist benefits from having more material in the marketplace, more songs that people know, more opportunity to perform, bigger buzz, bigger catalog, more visibility. It’s not like the producer or engineer is going to go out there on stage and do a concert, so it’s really those folks who are affected the most. Because they’re putting in major grunt work behind the scenes and they have no opportunity to monetize their contributions.

  • JE

    im done with this fuckin magazine, the week before the carter III drops, XXL is dickridin lil wayne giving him his own tab and featuring every one of his fucking promo videos… but the NAS album is droppin and theres not a single word said about the truest most talented rapper droppin the most controversial album rap has seen in a decade

    and yall wonder why hip hop is dying….

  • gooch

    there was an entire 5 thousand word preview of Nas album posted right here last week.

    Go kill yourself

  • JE

    you cant compare the publicity you faggots gave the carter III to the nas album, nas is the GOAT and cant even get a fuckin feature… get the fuck outta here

    • Rob The Music Ed

      Ya’ll fail to see what goes on behind the scenes. Give the #1 Rap mag in the WORLD a lil more credit fellas.

      BTW I just came back from purchasing the Nas album… how ’bout you? Hope you ain’t just Download it!

  • Jerod

    Nas fucking sucks.

  • Y.O.

    yo JE why are u posting that same cmnt all over the blogs..we saw it in the game article too
    jus fuckin relax..ders been nuff Nas articles. ye not as muchas lil wayne but some nontheless
    Nas is not the GOAT so calm the fuk down and stop your bitchin and stop fuckin pole jocking Nas’ album

  • TOO REAL

    O YEA I AGREE^^^^NAS CD IS FUCKIN HORRRIBLE ANYWAY!!DAT SHIT IS DRY AS FUCK, IT WASN’T EVEN POLITICAL! PLUS TOO ALL DA SONG WERE FUCKIN LEAKED TO DIS WEBSITE (DONT BELIEVE IT SUX GO 2 TARGET AND WASTE 15 BUCKS)..DAVID BANNER CD SUCKED ASS TOO!!! FUCK THESE CLOWNS MAN CARTER 3 WAS THE BEST THING DAT HAPPENED TO HIP HOP SINCE GRADUATION (AND LUPE’S ALBUM BUT DAT GOT SLEPT ON) TELL NAS TO PUT OUT TOP 10 RECORDS AND MAYBE HE’LL GET A BETTER BUZZ..SORRY NAS BUT WHOLE “NIGGER” STRATEGY JUS DIDN’T WORK, U JUS MADE YOURSELF LOOK LIKE A BIGGER DUMBASS!!! GOOD LUCK IN DOIN 100K FIRST WEEK OUT! BITCH!

  • http://hiphopisread.blogspot.com/2008/07/hhir-interview-with-dj-infamous.html Ivan

    Thanks again man!

    - I

  • grp03

    couple things:

    1. “this is why hip-hop is dead” has to be the most overused phrase ever in the world of hip-hop
    2. as much as i got sick of Lil wayne, i was equally sick of hearing about how Nas’s new album was gonna be titled “Nigger” when obviously a record company would never allow such bullshit to occur
    3. 1994 was 14 years ago
    4. whether you liked the Carter III or not, people should be fucking happy that someone actually made hip-hop relevant again in terms of album sales
    5. Since no one actually commented on the post itself, lets just say theres no fucking way an album leaking can be good for a producer. which you have obviously already stated yourself

  • http://www.myspace.com/alsween AlSween

    i feel what infamous is saying. as a producer myself it would hurt me tremendously if 1 week i have a song done by a huge artist and told that it will be on an album just for it to leak and be told that i won’t get placed. now the exception would be a song that leaks and does so well that it is forced to be a single. ppl like polow realizes that he can afford to take risks like that cause he’s already secure.

  • GOD

    “4. whether you liked the Carter III or not, people should be fucking happy that someone actually made hip-hop relevant again in terms of album sales”

    So I should be HAPPY that The Carter III, with all of it’s stagnatory topics, lame-ass concepts and underachieving glory, sold a mil…when niggas like Lupe, Common and Mos Def who make hard-hitting powerful social commentaries will NEVER see those kinds of numbers?

    If that’s the case I hope hip-ho sales continue to flop, maybe then we’ll see who does it for the art or for the money.

    • http://www.xxlmag.com pain94

      yo god fuckin realize that them 3 boring ass fools u mentioned aint what sells!and that hop fans dont wanna hear that social commentary shit and they wont see them #s ever!

  • grp03

    people like common and most def will never sell a million whether they’re talented or not, because they don’t attract a large enough fan base. your missing my point. im saying that we used to have rappers that were both somewhat talented and could also attract the non hip-hop fans, like em and 50 and others did all the time several years ago. we finally have someone that fits that description and is making hip-hop relevant to people who wouldnt normally listen to it. if you don’t think thats a plus for the game, then you need to fucking open your eyes.

  • VARep

    “Light My La La La” was supposed to be Infamous’ big break? That track was dope, but it was a straight jack of “Red Hook Day” by Shabazz the Disciple, it was just slightly sped up. I don’t know who produced the original, but he would be the one getting screwed, not Infamous.

  • GOD

    grp, I got your point perfectly; sales = good because you are reaching a wider base of people and earning hip-hop some long-overdue exposer and gratitude amongst music fans and the elite music critics (i think the hip-hop segment of the Grammy’s still dont get televised) – i get it.

    My point is what exactly are we “reaching” these people with: rhymes that express what it means for everyday people to be living during this era complete with all of the social and political shit that surrounds it and rules our lives, or syrup-induced ramblings about how rich a muh-fucker is? I believe it’s the latter, and I believe it’s completely backwards from what it should be.

  • ALL CITY UNSEEN

    YALL THAT HAPPEND TO ME

    JIM JONES & BYRD GANG….. CITY BOYZ
    ICE WATER ……. MERCEY ME
    JOELL ORTIZ MA BARKER…….. NOTHING ON ME TO NAME A FEW

    BUT I MADE DEALS WITH THE RECORD LABELS TO RELEASE IT ON Y LABEL

  • http://www.dynamicproducer.com dynamicwayne

    WOW @ these comments…lol

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