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MMM Radio - Canada's Mixtape Station
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This station is owned and operated in Edmonton, Alberta Canada. It is 100% artist supported by artist music. We are 100% underground culture. Slots are just $10, that will get your song into rotation on this station and also on a mixtape. Which means: Double exposure, if the song is really good it might be in rotation for 90 days+. We support unsigned, small label artists and their djs that push the music on a daily basis.

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Monday, August 23, 2010

@SCONPROMOTIONS Chromatics Keeps Evolving

“This job doesn’t come with a pension plan. This is our pension – our royalties.”

Pensions may be set up for future needs but what they represent is security that is psychological as much as it is an actual dollar figure.

Chromatics, co-founder with Stuart Fortuné of Highway Records, is thinking about his pension plan. Arguably the country’s most successful hip-hop artiste, he’s also thinking about other things that most of the workforce, whether private or public sector; blue collar, white collar or shirt-jack, tend to take for granted. Like whether or not they’re going to be paid for the work they have done in the past month.

On 23 July, The Trinidad and Tobago Publishers and Broadcasters Association (TTPBA) decided that the services of the performer were no longer necessary. At least, they weren’t necessary if they had to be paid for.

While the Copyright Organisation of Trinidad and Tobago (COTT) remains the largest and most familiar of copyright agencies for local artistes, there are others. Awesome, headed by Sherwin Fortune is another. After discussions with both agencies, Highway Records chose the smaller outfit. One of Awesome’s significant advantages is its superior media tracking capabilities and accounting practices. Every time a song from Awesome’s playlist – any song, any artiste - hits the airwaves, it’s digitally logged. When it’s royalty pay-up time, the logs are squared with a given station’s own records.

The TTPBA has not singled out Chromatics or Highway Records. The thinking behind the correspondence is multi-layered, almost impersonal. In her official letter, TTPBA’s president, Kiran Maharaj described the music genres and performers represented by Awesome as:

“not generic to all of us and is really targeted to specific niche markets… Your company does not represent more than 5% of any of our joint membership’s repertoire.”

This does not say “ban” or “blacklist”. The letter does make clear that no Memorandum of Understanding will be committed to between TTPBA and Awesome. In short, unsupported by TTPBA, no one is under any obligation to pay the royalties due the artistes via their chosen collectors.

“Not even 5%...”. So, in the specific case of Highway Records, not enough people listen to hip-hop, R&B, reggae, soca, rapso or any of the other forms of music as performed by local musicians who fall under their label. Apart from Chromatics, the label also represents Soul/R&B singers, John John and Andrew Prescod as well as two other Hip-Hop performers, Kane and Lil Saint. The release of “The Best Thing”, a new work from 18-year old Lil Saint featuring Andrew Prescod has been halted because of current situation.

In 2010 Chromatics and Highway Records received over 1000 plays collectively on 99.1, 94.1, 96.7 and Synergy TV between April and August, in addition to plays in the UK and the USA, as well as successful live performances both locally and abroad. Chromatics & John John’s hit music video “Cold Blooded” was #1 on Synergy TV’s top 10 count down for the entire month of June.

Since the circulation of the letter, all the stations with the exception of 94.1 have taken Highway Records’s repertoire off the air.

There are three stories here that call for a lot more answers.

One is the perennial story of the struggle between big business and smaller business. But regardless of the size, business it is. Highway Records has not approached its situation in the vein of the oppressed, victimized small-man. It is a business attempting a fair fight to maintain its viability in a tough industry.

There is another a story here – and old one, admittedly – about the monopolistic nature of agencies like the TTPBA and COTT, the stations and media houses that accept their dictates and – in doing so – make it almost impossible to grow a generation of local talent.

Finally, there’s the issue of the 5%. Is this an arbitrary figure? What if Awesome made it to 6.25%? Would they have been paid then? As the TTPBA’s letter drew to a close, the sign off included the hope that they would maintain relations with the evolving company. They were especially interested in staying abreast of Awesome’s media intelligence technology. This one’s an even older story, perhaps. Don’t call us, but we’ll call you. If what you have might be better.

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