De La Soul’s Catalog Heading to Streaming, Band Say They’ll Only See “Pennies” The rap trio claim Tommy Boy will collect 90% of streaming money, cite “unbalanced, unfair terms”
BY: NOAH YOO FEB 27 2019 RAP De La Soul are sparring with their former record label Tommy Boy about bringing their back catalog to streaming services. In a series of posts on the rap trio’s Instagram, they communicated their dismay over the terms of their agreement with Tommy Boy. “We are not happy about releasing our catalog under such unbalanced, unfair terms,” they wrote on February 26. In another post, they said, “The music WILL be released digitally. After 30 long years of good music and paying their debt to hip-hop, De La Soul unfortunately, will not taste the fruits of their labor. Your purchases will roughly go 90% Tommy Boy, 10% De La. Thank you.”
Today, they released more statements via Instagram, claiming Tommy Boy had not done the due diligence of clearing samples in the back catalog before making plans to make it available to stream. “We are being placed in the line of fire... De La Soul cannot afford negligent hurried business. We are fighting for our livelihood,” a caption reads. “Imagine trying to settle a #phantom2milliondollardebt and now possible lawsuits lurking??? There goes that 10%.” De La Soul then revealed that Tidal had reportedly agreed not to stream their back catalog in solidarity.
During an interview on “Sway In the Morning,” De La Soul’s Maseo explained that after Tommy Boy’s rights were moved over to Warner Bros. Records, potential sample infractions within the De La Soul records kept the label from making them available on streaming services. The De La Soul catalog has since been reacquired by Tommy Boy. Trugoy cited Tommy Boy head Tom Silverman’s lack of faith in the group’s seminal debut 3 Feet High and Rising as a reason why the samples were never cleared.
“Because of the fact that Tommy Boy—Tom Silverman, in particular—didn’t think that 3 Feet High and Rising was going to do well at all,” he told Sway. “Because of that reason, they decided not to clear stuff.” The group also stated that they will only see “pennies” in royalties once the albums are put on streaming platforms. Find their full appearance below.
Pitchfork has reached out to representatives for Tommy Boy for further comment.
Read our Sunday Review of De La Soul’s 3 Feet High and Rising.
2. "Nobody cleared everything before Biz' lawsuit" In response to Reply # 0 Thu Feb-28-19 01:52 PM by OKdamn
..and the reason Biz got jammed up was because he lifted the melody, the chorus and the title. Before that, people were just sampling anything and thought they were gonna squeeze by with the 'it's a cover' & parody loopholes. Nope! Shoulda known not to take the white stuff. That's where they fucked it up.
4. "Doesn't matter if we did or didn't." In response to Reply # 3
Streaming is the way most people are consuming music these days. Even people who still have mp3s are streaming at work, on their phones, in their cars. And De La is getting fucked by Tommy Boy on their impending streaming profits.
-- "You can't beat white people. You can only knock them out."
"There is only one god and his name is death. And there is only one thing we say to death: not today."
9. "Dope, this is great to hear" In response to Reply # 8
I have everything already anyway, but it would nice to have it on streaming especially as it will allow a lot of potentially new fans to check them out. I hope they make a big deal of it when they roll it out to streaming services.
I have all their music in different file formats and on vinyl (well their studio albums). I would love to be able to actually share a link to their older songs or add them to playlists along with other music.
I'm sure there are a lot of people that haven't bothered checking them out because you can't stream their older music.
I'm hoping for the biggest rollout once they come to an agreement. Hopefully some official represses that have the groups blessings to go along with streaming.