The TRUTH about " I Wanna Go" (In my own words...)
Written By, Jannae Jordan
Over two years later and this still hasn't been resolved.. I have begun taking action and speaking out on the matter by every creative means possible. My hope now is to bring people together to educate, encourage and hopefully make some changes if not to the business, to ourselves and how we maneuver in the business.
Intro: I write these words not to slander anyone, I used no names as in the grand scheme of things this isn't just about "them". This is me talking about MY song and how I feel and have been affected by a case of severe and blatant copyright infringement. My objective is to convey the impact of such matters on the affected Artists. Sadly, my story isn't special, this happens all the time. But my story is unique for me as it is mine. If this touches you and you wish to join me in TRUTH, please share my story and perhaps yours with others.
This is for my Mom & Dad and STRONG and talented Family, who taught me to respect GOD, the law, stand up for what is right and do so with grace,intelligence, dignity, humility and honesty. I stand, I write, I sing because they are my heritage, foundation and the beautiful proud body I come from. We don't break or bow down in the face of adversity or intimidation, we over come it!
Peace, Respect & God Bless,
PS. Happy Black History Month!
Back in the summer 2006, I wrote a beautiful song about peace, understanding, humanity, equality, the “Have Not’s” surviving the “Haves” and making the world a better place. I titled it " I Wanna Go" . This song meant the world to me as the lyrics weren’t simply inspired but they truly had emotional weight to them as well as a deeply personal reference. Although there was much on my mind and weighing heavily on my spirit when I first heard this song in my heart, I mainly wrote the song for my Stepchildren, who at the time were struggling to find their way in this unfair and sometimes cold world. As I wrote I thought of them, as well as all of the children in my Urban NYC hood. I also thought of us Adults who even as grown ups still struggled to make sense of the world, politics, our place in this politically fueled world and how we could make things better. And lastly wrote the song for all of my fellow 9-11 survivors...victims...witnesses, all of us. Not just those that were physically there but all of us who were impacted personally, profoundly and directly as I was. All of us have had to reconcile what happened and find a way to move forward. For me that meant returning to what I love doing, writing and music.
The melodies that I heard, sang and arranged came to me while I dreamed. I put my soul and my heart out there, which is why I often refer to not only this song but all of my songs as "My baby(ies)" , I feel like I birthed this thing! Music heals, this song "I Wanna Go" , came from that healing in creativity space within me, and no matter what it remains in that place for me. Even through the many tears I have come to shed, and walls I have hit along the way while fighting for my rights and this song; what inspired and helped me to create this song can never be tainted or claimed as it is between me and God. Call it the Universes divine copyright.
The project as a whole kept me up many nights off and on over the course of months. So when I finally felt ready to share it with the world for a critique, I did so with great hope and even greater apprehension. I hadn’t shared a piece that I produced in years, not since the last song had gotten “shared“ when a friend passed it on to someone they believed would respect it and keep it close. But then again this time was different, this wouldn't be the entire song, just a little snippet , a little sample to show that I could still sing after having taken a few years off. A little sample to show that I still had my songwriting chops and now I could also put a nice simple track together as well. Following posting the snip of this “baby” of mine, the reviews started coming in. My fellow singer/songwriters totally got it, the message in the lyrics and the reason I kept the track basic to show case the lyrics and delivery. Mentors urged me to run with it and develop it further as it was new vibe for me, and it worked. Needless to say I was so happy! But it would be when these two Producers from the UK stepped up and proposed taking it in a different direction even if only temporarily; that would serve as a herald of how things would never be the same.
In the months that followed our initial introduction, I proceeded with caution as this would be what wound up being the last 50/50 back end deal I would ever do. I have always been about the art first and because this was a young Label I was willing to compromise, as long as the legals were in order. So we moved forward and I held fast to my hope that this temporary joining of my lyrics, voice and vocal arrangement with their digitized dance groove, would be the beginning of a beautiful long term creative and professional relationship. As the project proceeded, I had my Attorney review and modify the contract,(It wasn’t cheap either). We proceeded with transatlantic phone calls, countless e-mails, sent contracts back and forth and made plans. I even used a promotional photograph of mine that I paid for to design additional promotional material for the release. I reached out to everyone and anyone I knew to get behind the project and push once it came out.
I was a bit nervous across the board, but felt so damn good about it because it was just that good! In hindsight I think I felt okay with everything more so because I really wanted to believe there was no hidden agenda, after all my role and compensation as Licensor was clear just like my ownership of my song, plus we signed contracts, what could go wrong? It came out in early 2007. We collectively pushed and promoted, the people loved it and the project did very well. It got my name back out there and reignited my desire to record again after a long hiatus. However, by the end of 2007, all of my joy and excitement had begun to sour and turn into fear and dread. Communication slowed, and the tone of the communication that did transpire changed, became evasive and aggressive and inevitably stalled and ceased. By August of 2008, all of my worst fears about the business of making music had officially come to pass with this project.
Over the past three plus years I have been absolutely heart broken over how people I trusted stole my “baby” and ran off with it, giving me their collective asses to kiss every step along the way. What fans of the music need to know is this; Artists are constantly told to keep the issues to themselves. We are warmed early on in our careers that if we speak up we will get black listed as trouble makers, in turn we wont work. When you are trying to build your brand you try to chalk a lot of the negative that goes on behind the scenes up to paying your dues. So what happens more often than not is we suffer in silence when deals go wrong. And those like myself who believe in handling things as professionally, legally and discretely as possible, attempt to do just that to the point of mental and financial exhaust sometimes. Sometimes you get a resolution. And sometimes you have to just walk away and take the loss. But when you’re trying to be a professional and put your emotions to the side and move on whilst your opponent publicly rapes your work, your creation for their own gain…I cannot, and will not be silent anymore.
A situation like this leaves one with a few thoughts, questions… How did this happen? How is this allowed to persist? How do you justify stealing not only all of someone’s earnings by way of violating your contract and copyright laws for a highly successful release by saying “Well, she got lots of exposure…” Exposure??? I wrote and recorded a hit, you wouldn’t have had this song if I had not written, arranged and recorded it. Exposure… I am due considerably more than exposure! BTW: When I did finally get a half done statement , after all the sales and licensing deals ,my share of the money was substantial. For those in the business, you know what I mean. I’m not talking typical digital release numbers which are paltry at best these days. I’m talking enough money for me to have upgraded my whole production set up after first paying some bills that took precedence at the time. However, I was denied that because one of the Producers impending divorce took precedence over me receiving my money( YES, I was told the initial delay was due to one of the men needing money for a divorce. Seriously I still have the e-mail, I can’t make this sh*t up!)
I digress; bottom line this has been a full on nightmare for me! I have released other successful records with amazing Producers and quality Labels worldwide since this all started. And each time I find peace and progress in a new release... almost like an evil time release capsule of malice, they violate and release another mix! That or they license it for more compilations. But what really set me off was when two things were brought to my attention by personal friends in the business and long time supporters/fans who I love and so appreciate. The first being that a female who looks nothing like me…( lets just say they took something of a white wash approach) was on the cover art. What a slap in the face! Add to that the song is about world peace, yet this dark sunglass wearing female is slumped on a bathroom floor much like a nodding heroin addict . Okay, so ya don’t want my face on it, WHATEVER! But could you at least have found a stock photo image that has something to do with the meaning in the song? I mean damn a generic group of children or even a rainbow made out of Pez or Skittles would have made more sense and would been more respectful. Yeah, so that was nauseating. However, as ugly as that was, it was no where near as devastating as finding out that not only had they continued to capitalize off the remixes, but had gone above and beyond violating me by releasing the Acapella as a Protool! Here’s where you need to pay attention.
The Acapella IS the master. As per the legally sound and binding contract that we all agreed to, I retained my exclusive rights and control to the MASTER that was not a part of the deal in any way shape or form beyond remixes, full stop. Their music is their music, my song in its entirety/the master/Acapella mine and only mine. (note: the terms also included a 3 year limit for remixing which they long exceeded). In essence I don’t care if they tweaked it or whatever, Acapella = MY PROPERTY. So, not only did they sell me out, rob me, treat me as a slave, but they set me up to have my song further violated. It’s like snatching up my proverbial kid and selling it off to a pimp, and now anyone can have a turn for a few coins. How disgusting! Seriously who does that? What doesn’t help is that far too many of today’s Independent Dance/House/ Electronic Record Labels fall short with their “don‘t ask don‘t tell” approach to verifying the legal details. They like putting new music on the market but they have no real desire to do the administrative work…ex. Verifying all parties have granted clearance etc. Hell if these labels who went along with this creative rape had really cared to do the right thing, they would have asked that these men at minimum produce a work for hire vocal release (there isn't one as this wasn't a work for hire...duh!), they would have asked to see all the paperwork. They would have cross checked a few things. Now you may still think they're innocent, I say BULLOX!
Some of these Labels and Distributors are just as guilty and in some ways no different from those we typically think of when we think in terms of Internet Pirates. Their hands are not clean, and in my case, the Labels hands are sooo not clean, especially the most recent cohort out of Germany. I'm not new to the Rodeo, this label unlike any other label that I have worked indirectly with; they never reached out to me, not on myspace, facebook, my website, nothing. That’ s odd if you’re promoting and remixing the hell out of a record and the actual Artist is very much so alive and working. In my book that means they are fully aware of the true nature of this thing and that makes them guilty...willfully complicit of creative rape as well, period.
Even though the laws cover all intellectual property both great and small; even if you spend a lot of money on a lawyer, far too many gatekeepers of product just don't do due diligence and will not invest but so much time assisting in cleaning up the mess. And they don't have to, and they shouldn't have to. But when you know there is problem in the industry I think you should out of good faith and self preservation. The Pirates play you too when they pull this. Either way, there are no real checks and balances. Which brings me to why I truly plan to get off the Digital Music Plantation as my sole means of creating with others…there is no respect for those who really truly create in this arena, no honor, no money and I'm tired of being tossed scraps while others eat steak off of my work. I was born free, physically, spiritually,creatively and mentally. I will not be shackled or bound and gagged by fear of reprisal. Especially when I'm the victim and did nothing wrong. No one should be subjected to this level of disrespect and systematic thievery.
There’s so much more, countless e-mails requesting payment, un-answered pleas for help to Producers/ Remixers who were heavily involved, who I once believed had consciences. I have been trying to sort this matter out for years. So today on my blog I post the following statement of the facts for all to see. Just as I have been creatively raped and robbed both financially and emotionally by the actions of all involved, and had it done repeatedly in public, I speak up and out in public. This is the truth. I have all of my documentation in order as I am meticulous when it comes to such things. I have archived e-mails that support my statements as well. I have witnesses by way of others who tried to intercede and get me my money. This is not a joke! This is very real and has been a very real part of my personal and professional life for years.
In closing my friends, supporters, fellow lovers and or creators of Music and Art in general: I implore you to remember, every time you support this brand of Creative/Artistic rape, you take food off the tables of people like me, or cut us short on paying rents or mortgages, hold us back from reinvesting in ourselves, employing other creative sorts looking for a chance, or perhaps providing financial assistance to family and friends especially during these lean times. That last one hits painfully close to home for me. And I’m not alone. No one has the right to steal your money or your work. You wouldn't tolerate being mugged once let alone every day right? If you know the truth about a Label or a Producers less than clean business practices, stop supporting their deviltry by paying your dollars for their tunes, or events in turn rewarding them for their misdeeds and excusing them because the music is hot. Stop excusing them by saying “Well they didn’t do anything to me so we’re cool…”, how ignorant! Would you let a convicted...known pedophile hang out with your kids? I would think not! And if you have no kids I guess that same predator is perfectly cool to hang out with even if you know who and what they are; after all you don’t have any kids for them to damage so it’s all good...right? Again I would hope not! Get my point? It’s a matter of principle and ethics, dare I say morality. Every little bit counts when it comes to doing the right thing and effecting a change. This must stop, period.
***Humanity, love, peace, giving a damn, all the good things my song is about. All the good things that these predators have made a pretty penny off of and a mockery of as they personify everything this song is not about but rather against. “ Make our world, where we’re free. Free of fear, free of greed…” These are my words…some of my lyrics…what they have exploited. Disrespectful, ironic, tragic, sad and twisted isn’t it…***
This is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help me God!