(Hypebot) — Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Ian Urbina charts a course for the nonprofit Outlaw Ocean Music Project that includes navigating the choppy waters of the music industry.
A guest article and a podcast by Rutger Ansley Rosenborg from Chartmetric’s How Music Charts.
Ian Urbina is the director of The Outlaw Ocean Project, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit journalism organization that produces investigative reporting on human rights, the environment, and labor issues. work on the high seas.
Urbina’s reporting won him a Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News and a George Polk Prize for Foreign Reporting. He was also nominated for an Emmy Award and several of his stories have been adapted into major feature films. before joining The New York TimesUrbina was a Fulbright scholar in Cuba, and he has also written about the Middle East and Africa for various media, including the Los Angeles Times, Harper’sand vanity lounge.
In this episode we talk to Urbina about The Outlaw Ocean Music Project, an offshoot of The Outlaw Ocean Project which is “[a]speaking to people who might not have come across this report otherwise. According to the project’s website, “[T]Music makes stories more visceral and delivers them to audiences through different channels. The aim of the musical project is to raise awareness and create a sense of urgency regarding the human rights, labor and environmental violations that occur at sea.”
As a self-proclaimed newbie to the music industry, Urbina probably never expected to have to navigate such choppy waters once he got into the music business. In December 2021, Benn Jordan, also known as electronic composer The Flashbulb, uploaded a video that raised some doubts about the Outlaw Ocean Music project (which he was asked to contribute to but never did. part). This, in turn, led to a small firestorm on social media and various articles being published about the dispute.
Jordan’s mindset is completely understandable, as people and corporations have long exploited the naivety and helplessness of artists. Some common examples experienced by artists:
- Pay-to-play programs where the artist effectively pays their own money to work i.e. they pay to access playlists or they are financially responsible for any tickets that are not sold for a show in direct.
- Exposure diagrams“We can’t pay you, but you’ll be exposed.” If it’s really a good opportunity, then maybe it makes sense, i.e. performing in the Super Bowl; however, the vast majority of cases are simply exploitative.
Artists and musicians who have been there for a while, like Jordan, recognize these schemes as “scams”. They are not illegal, but they knowingly exploit.
Unfortunately for Urbina, Jordan’s frustration found an outlet in The Outlaw Ocean Music Project, distracting from what Urbina originally wanted the project to bring attention to. Regardless of your position in this debate, we have tried to ensure that our conversation with Urbina is as transparent, nuanced and fair as possible. If nothing else, it’s a lesson in how prickly brambles the music industry’s walled garden are. Hopefully it’s also an exercise in how to have civilized discourse and debate, leaving room for growth for all perspectives.