There's nothing worse than putting your blood, sweat, and tears into a studio album only for some fool to leak it and have hundreds of thousands of people download your music for free. And even though the days of Napster are long gone, chances are you haven't paid for a song since the last Sam Goody closed in your town. You’re guilty. Admit it.
Having your music leaked isn’t uncommon and certainly isn't a recent phenomenon. But these days, it seems more common than ever. Google "music leaks" and you'll get a list of sites dedicated to scanning the web for the latest leaks in the music industry. It's happened to Kanye West, 50 Cent, and just about every other major player in the music industry. And for Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter Mýa, one time was enough. After her fourth studio album, Liberation, was leaked in 2007, she took extra precaution to make sure this would never happen again.
Although there is no single way to make sure your hard work never goes uncompensated, she does give us a few ways to make sure it isn’t leaked so easily.
New Times: What were you doing when your fourth studio album, Liberation, leaked?
Mýa: I just finished part one of my Planet 9 Tour at the end of June. Planet 9 is the name of my label. I was in rehearsals for upcoming part-two dates and in the studio all month working on my next project.
After Liberation leaked, you ditched the label Universal Motown and became an independent artist. How has that been going?
In these last seven years as an independent artist, I've released seven independent projects internationally and domestically — from albums, double albums, mixtapes, EPs. Though I stepped away from the major-label system, which can mean more mainstream exposure and radio presence, I have never stopped making music or working. The unreleased archive is deep. I constantly rehearse, record, train, travel the world to perform, speak, teach, take classes, meetings, draft and execute my own contracts, make the calls, collect and write the checks, dedicate myself to other causes, and live life in between as well. I've been doing it in a different way, the way Prince suggested I do it – independently. And I like it. Although, it doesn't look like much to the masses, it's much greater on many different levels.
Do you feel that music leakage can be prevented? How so?
In some cases, yes. In other cases, no. When you’re investing your soul, gift, personal experiences, time, money, and hustle into creating something, firm conversations with those you work with must be had initially to lay down the law, expectations, and repercussions. Then paperwork must follow. I drafted and now service a pre- and post-recording agreement to hold the producers, writers, artists, and engineers liable for the leakage, sharing, placement, and playing of my music.
I've heard my voice thrown on a random artist's song before. I've had songs I've written leaked by producers, writers, and internal team members and even sold to other artists without my knowledge or approval. In addition to keeping a cap on who has access to it, expectations and consequences must be laid out from jump. Ain't nothin' like paperwork.
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What precautions do you take now to make sure this never happens again?
Do not email your songs, as email accounts can and have been hacked into. Keep a lock on your computers, phones, and devices.
What advice can you give upcoming artists to prevent their music leaking or damage control if it does?
When sending out songs for feature inquiries, submissions, listening, feedback, etc., use sites that give you options to stream versus just downloading. Soundcloud and Fileblaze are good ones, to name a few.
What can we expect from you musically in the long run?
Expect to feel many things.
Mýa with Bobby Valentino, Raheem Devaughn, Melanie Fiona, Glenn Jones, and more.The Overtown Music and Arts Festival. 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, July 25, in the Overtown Business District, NW Third Avenue between Eighth and 11th streets. Admission is free. All ages. Visit overtownmusicartsfestival.com.