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Are record labels calling projects ‘mixtapes’ to avoid paying producers?

The streaming age of music has turned the industry on top of its head. Because retail is digital and artists can deliver music directly to the consumer’s ears, we’re starting to see albums classified differently.

Though a studio albums, Drake and Future’s W.A.T.T.B.A  and Drake’s If Your Reading Thus It’s Too Late were considered a “mixtapes”. Similarly, Drizzy’s very next compilation of songs, More Life, was not your traditional album either, but a “playlist”.

Well, Wiz Khalifa’s producer E. Dan, in an interview with BeatStars, expounded on why label heads are not opposed to this trend.

According to the the long-time producer, Atlantic Records didn’t compensate him fairly for his six production credits on the Pittsburgh rapper’s 2016 “compilation album” Khalifa.

“They came up with some really clever name that essentially meant… Everyone involved, you’re going to get paid half what you normally do… I’ve seen it happen often over the last few years.”

As Twitter caught wind of the interview, more producers began recounting similar stories.

DJ Burn One wrote that RCA employed similar tactics with A$AP Rocky’s Live. Love. A$AP mixtape. And Metro Boomin, who’s been vocal about Atlantics’s misdealings, tuned added that it’s been happening with labels across the industry and suggested a union be formed in their stead.

If 2017 has taught us anything it’s in the importance of the producer in hip-hop.

Metro Boomin released four joint studio albums with artist from Big Sean to Gucci Mane last year alone as a DJ/producer — the first feat I’ve seen by a producer ever — which will only open doors for more like him.

This kind of transparency from artist — or producers for that matter — are able to get this kind of recognition due to the digital age’s fast flow of information, and one can only hope that it puts the pressure of labels to do the right thing.