Latest News: Technology |  Celebrity |  Movies |  Apple |  Cars |  Business |  Sports |  TV Shows |  Geek

Trending

Filed under: News

 

Jay-Z Tape Extortion Opens A Digital Can Of Worms

Apr 29 2014, 7:20am CDT | by

11 Updates
Jay-Z Tape Extortion Opens A Digital Can Of Worms
Photo Credit: Getty Images
 
 

Tweets Comments

Full Story

Jay-Z Tape Extortion Opens A Digital Can Of Worms

Last week it was all over the news that some Jay-Z master tapes from the early 2000s were at the center of an alleged extortion plot where the holder of the tapes was asking for a significant amount of money to ensure their return. Because Jay-Z is such a major artist, this garnered a lot of national news, but the fact of the matter is that the circumstances surrounding the tapes is something fairly common, and it exposes a lack of musical inventory control that is only going to get worse now that we’re firmly in the age of digital music production.

To recap, engineer Chauncey Mahan, who worked for Jay-Z from 1998 to 2004, allegedly had in his possession the master tapes from some of the rapper’s biggest sellers, including Vol. 3: The Life And Times Of S. Carter, and The Dynasty: Roc La Familia. Engineer Mahan contacted Team Jay-Z and supposedly told them that he had the tapes in storage but couldn’t pay for it any longer and wanted $100,000 to cover his back expenses. Team Jay-Z took that to mean that he was holding the tapes for a $100k ransom. Both parties settled on a fee of $75,000 and when they met up at a storage unit in Northridge, CA, the police were also there to confiscate the tapes, but they made no arrests while doing so.

I have no idea if there are untruths being told or if one of the parties misunderstood the circumstances, but I do know why this might lead to rather murky situation. First of all, back in the days when everything was recorded on digital or analog tape, a project from a major artist could easily run into several hundred reels of 1 inch (digital) or 2 inch (analog) tape. Each tape would store three or four recorded song takes (depending upon the length of the song), and over the course of the six months to a year the project took to complete, every tape was kept and usually none were erased. The resulting number of tapes from several album projects could easily fill up a large storage area that could cost $500 per month or so, especially if it was climate controlled. Multiply that by the ten years that the tapes were stored and you have at least $60,000 in storage costs. While the extra money requested might be for time and labor involved, you can see why that figure might be in the ballpark.

But how does an engineer come into possession of master tapes said to be valued between $10 to 15 million (I doubt that’s the real value but that’s for another post)? The music industry has always been very laissez-faire when it comes to master tapes. Once a project is over, producers move on to the next project and the artist hits the road on tour. The last thing they want to think about is left-over master tapes, especially the ones that have all those takes that weren’t used. Often times master tapes are just left in the studio collecting dust until the studio gets tired of them taking up space and begins to call everyone even loosely connected with the project to tell them that they’ll throw the masters in the trash if they’re not removed, and sometimes that’s what actually happens. Many of the master tapes to some of the worlds greatest hits have been relegated to the trash heap because no one cared enough to claim them.

Record labels sometimes take the masters into their catalog storage warehouses, but that’s never been a sure thing either, as many have been misfiled, mislabeled, mistreated or just thrown away because they couldn’t be identified over the years.

Then there’s the case where the producer will ask the engineer to take the masters or copies of the masters home to edit, fix, or transfer because the costs are less than that of an expensive studio. My late friend Terry Howard, who worked for Ray Charles for years, was arrested for having masters in his possession that he was directed to work on by the late artist, but the manager was never made aware so he considered them stolen.

Given the fact that we rarely use bulky tape in the process of making records anymore, inventory control has become even more precarious, but in a different way. Artists want to hear what a song sounds like in their car, producers and engineers want to work on the project at home, and anyone in the control room with a large flash drive can easily walk away with an artist’s precious digital master files. Once in a while the record label will employ specialized security to make sure that nothing capable of carrying 1′s and 0′s enters or leaves the room, but these measures are sadly overlooked in these days of the do-it-yourself artist, who are more interested in the artistic side of the project than controlling where the bits are going. Add to that the fact that it’s so easy to upload a project to the someone’s partition of the cloud (not necessarily the artist’s) or directly send them to a reviewer or blogger, so song leaks are easier than ever, and this is one of the reasons that it happens so frequently.

That’s what makes Beyonce’s (Mrs. Jay-A) latest release that much more impressive. Virtually no one knew it was going to happen until the day that the album was actually released, which meant some airtight digital security. Of course it also meant some great analog (meaning all mouths were closed) security as well.

Master inventory control is a subject that has many more aspects than have been outlined above, but in these days where a blockbuster release can mean millions of plays, views and downloads, master security is more important than ever. While we don’t know how the Jay-Z “tape extortion” case will play out, we do know that what went down is far from the first time it’s ever happened, and probably won’t be the last time either.

 

iPad Air Giveaway. Win a free iPad Air.

You Might Also Like

Updates


Top Tweet


Sponsored Update

Update: 11

Tweets


Advertisement


Update: 10

4 Firms In Iskandar Malaysia Get Facilitation Fund Totalling RM16.2 Million

Source: Malaysia Today

(Bernama) – Four companies have received the facilitation fund amounting to RM16.2 million from TERAJU@Iskandar Malaysia in an information sharing programme on business opportunities and assistance for the ...
Source: Malaysia Today   Full article at: Malaysia Today 6 days ago, 7:42am CDT
 

More From the Web

Update: 9

Selangor’s Watergate about to explode

Source: Malaysia Today

Anwar brought Wan Azmi to meet Khalid to try to resolve this matter. Anwar supports the RM2.5 billion claim but Khalid is stubbornly sticking to the figure of RM250 million.... REA ...
Source: Malaysia Today   Full article at: Malaysia Today Jul 23 2014, 4:12am CDT
 

Update: 8

GLCs told to provide RM7 billion to develop Bumiputera firms

Source: Malaysia Today

(The Malaysian Insider) – Putrajaya has directed government-linked companies (GLC) to generate RM7 billion in business opportunities for Bumiputera firms this year, Prime Minister Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak... R ...
Source: Malaysia Today   Full article at: Malaysia Today Jul 17 2014, 2:05am CDT
 

Update: 7

Rafizi shows proof of Putrajaya’s hand in contentious carpet-trader loan

Source: Malaysia Today

Eileen Ng, The Malaysian Insider PKR lawmaker Rafizi Ramli today revealed documents to prove Putrajaya interfered in the RM32 million Bank Rakyat loan to ‎controversial businessman Deep ...
Source: Malaysia Today   Full article at: Malaysia Today Jul 16 2014, 2:16am CDT
 

Update: 6

PAS MP claims Bank Rakyat loaned carpet-trader RM215m, interest free

Source: Malaysia Today

(Malay Mail Online) – Controversial businessman Deepak Jaikishan (pic) was given a whopping RM215 million interest-free loan from state-owned Bank Rakyat, a PAS lawmaker alleged today, despite Pu ...
Source: Malaysia Today   Full article at: Malaysia Today Jul 14 2014, 5:52am CDT
 

Update: 5

MRCB, Nusa Gapurna and PKNS settle suit over RM3 billion PJ Sentral project

Source: Malaysia Today

(The Malaysian Insider) – Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd (MRCB), Nusa Gapurna Development Sdn Bhd (NGD) and PKNS Holdings Sdn Bhd have reached an out-of-court settlement over the ownership o ...
Source: Malaysia Today   Full article at: Malaysia Today Jun 21 2014, 2:53am CDT
 

Update: 4

Story behind Syed Mokhtar’s ‘RM2.25 billion tax-exempt’ Bernas deal revealed, says PKR MP

Source: Malaysia Today

(The Malaysian Insider) – An innocuous written reply in Parliament has provided a peek into the cosy relationship between the Najib administration and Malaysia’s best-known businessman, Tan Sri Syed Mo ...
Source: Malaysia Today   Full article at: Malaysia Today Jun 15 2014, 12:56pm CDT
 

Update: 3

Constitutional monarchy still murky concept

Source: Malaysia Today

After the RM4.5 billion land sale, the Sultan of Johor secured a 15% stake in MOL Access Portal (MOL) for RM396 million and took a 20% stake in Ber ...
Source: Malaysia Today   Full article at: Malaysia Today Jun 14 2014, 12:37am CDT
 

Update: 2

Sultan of Johor’s RM4.5 bil backlash?

Source: Malaysia Today

Has Sultan Ibrahim of Johor’s succession of big money deals over the last six months caused the tide of public opinion to turn against Johor’s royal palace? KiniBiz exami ...
Source: Malaysia Today   Full article at: Malaysia Today Jun 11 2014, 8:49am CDT
 

Update: 1

Putrajaya denies carpet dealer given interest-free loan

Source: Malaysia Today

Eileen Ng, The Malaysian Insider Putrajaya today refuted allegations that Bank Rakyat had allowed carpet dealer Deepak Jaikishan to repay a RM32 million loan without interest ...
Source: Malaysia Today   Full article at: Malaysia Today Jun 11 2014, 5:44am CDT
 

Shopping Deals

 
 
 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/31" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

 

Comments

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Jessica Alba Rocks Bikini on Maxim Cover
Jessica Alba Rocks Bikini on Maxim Cover
Jessica Alba looks super hot on new Maxim Magazine issue. See the Sin City actress in a bikini below.
 
 
Heidi Klum and Jimmy Fallon Roll through TV Studio
Heidi Klum and Jimmy Fallon Roll through TV Studio
German model and entertainment mogul Heidi Klum is up for anything. She formed a human wheel with Jimmy Fallon and rolled through the studio. Watch the funny video below.
 
 
Derek Jeter Honored by George W. Bush
Derek Jeter Honored by George W. Bush
Retiring New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter was honored by former president George W. Bush before the Yankees' game against the host Texas Rangers on July 30. Bush gave Jeter a framed autographed photo of the two of them from the 2001 World Series.
 
 
Sharknado 2: The Second One Premieres Tonight
Sharknado 2: The Second One Premieres Tonight
Sharknado 2's about to strike Manhattan, New York City. Find out how to survive SyFy's latest monster movie.
 
 
 

About the Geek Mind

The “geek mind” is concerned with more than just the latest iPhone rumors, or which company will win the gaming console wars. I4U is concerned with more than just the latest photo shoot or other celebrity gossip.

The “geek mind” is concerned with life, in all its different forms and facets. The geek mind wants to know about societal and financial issues, both abroad and at home. If a Fortune 500 decides to raise their minimum wage, or any high priority news, the geek mind wants to know. The geek mind wants to know the top teams in the National Football League, or who’s likely to win the NBA Finals this coming year. The geek mind wants to know who the hottest new models are, or whether the newest blockbuster movie is worth seeing. The geek mind wants to know. The geek mind wants—needs—knowledge.

Read more about The Geek Mind.