Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Harlem Shake Gets Busted

Harlem Shake image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
Harlem Shake - Kansas Basketball Style
Use a sample, go to jail. Well, not exactly, but unless you get permission, you're going to be hearing from an attorney. The latest episode of uncleared samples comes with the recent viral hit "Harlem Shake" by Baauer. It seems that the DJ used pieces of Hector El Father's 2006 single "Maldades" and Plastic Little's "Miller Time" without getting permission first, and now they want some money.

The fact of the matter is that most major labels have business affairs departments that would've made sure that all samples were cleared before the song was released, but "Harlem Shake" was on the tiny Mad Decent Records, who had no such resources. It was only after the video for the video went viral with it's crazy dance (if you can call it that) that the song became a hit.

"Harlem Shake" has spent the last 3 weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart and had over 800,000 downloads, and the video has over 27 million views. All of that has been very recent though, as the song was actually released last May and until the video broke, was destined to be one of the many songs that with little traction in the marketplace.

To a small record label who considers a couple of thousand sales a hit, clearing samples is hardly a priority. Chances are that the sample owner will never hear it, and if they do, there's hardly enough money involved to make a legal case of it. That all changes when the song is a hit however.

It will be interesting to see just how much El Father and Plastic Little settle for. I've known people in the past who know that they're being infringed upon and purposely wait until the song is a big hit before they announce the situation to the world. You get a bigger payday that way.

Regardless, it's just another lesson that if you don't get the proper clearances, it will cost you in the end.


Interested in the Music 3.0 archives? Buy The Music 3.0 Guide To Social Media. The best of over 800 posts.

You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Check out my Big Picture blog for discussion on common music, engineering and production tips and tricks.

No comments:


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...