Pharrell Williams belies that labels are using advance payments to artists as an entrapment to own their creative works. The artist was speaking to Steve Stoute about the pitfalls of advance loans the devastating effect it has had on artists.
The discussions were centered on United Masters hosting SelectCon on Twitch in a two-day conference. CEO of United Master Steve Stoute and Pharrell Williams discussed various aspects of music and its operations as they discussed the problems arising from contracts with labels that are unfair to artists.
Many artists have come out to accuse labels of taking advantage of them with unfair deals and contracts, and this has led to many artists even forming their own record labels and distribution companies to avoid the issues with labels.
Among those who have complained are the likes of Kanye West, Teyana Taylor, Megan Thee Stallion, and many more artists who claim they have not received any income from their labels.
However, the issues are said to be stemming from the types of agreements that artists have with the labels, and now many new artists are falling into the trap of advances, especially.
In response to a question, Stoute asked Pharrell about what he thought of these advances. The experienced artist/producer and Stoute agreed that the way labels operate should be illegal.
“You shouldn’t walk into a company and say, ‘I’m gonna make this record.’ They give you an advance then for the tenure of that, the entire time you’re album’s out, you’re working to pay back that advance,” said Pharrell said. Stoute then interrupted to add, “It’s illegal.” Pharrell continued, “No bank gives a company a loan to start a company and walks away with the trademarks.”
According to Pharrell, “No one should own you. No one should own your actions. No one should own your creations. But you.”
The current situation in the music industry has led to many artists suing their labels for unfair deals. The latest person to do so is Megan Thee Stallion, who alleged that her contract with 1501 Entertainment saw her receiving little to no income from her deal. The CEO of that label admitted to giving Megan a $10,000 advance. However, what he took in return was far more.
“we gave her a $10,000 advance when we first signed her and gave it to her mother. I don’t know what happened[with that]. 300 (the distribution company she had signed to) gave us $200,000 check when we first signed. I gave her $50,000 of it. I didn’t have to give her that. That was mine at the time,” he said in a Billboard interview.
In her initial lawsuit to void her 30 recording contract with 1501 Entertainment, Megan claims that she was only given $15,000 from the label after earning a billion streams and selling over 300,000 individual track downloads that estimate earnings of $7 million.
The matter is still before a court.