Ian Urbina ‘unequivocally apologizes’ after complaints about music project

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ian Urbina “apologizes[d] unequivocally ”after some of the artists who contributed to the tracks in his Outlaw Ocean Music Project complained about their involvement, alleging that Urbina initially distorted the nature of the collaboration or failed to properly inform them about the money that was owed to them.

In a response on Sunday, Urbina called the YouTube video that triggered the allegations “inaccurate” and described her project as “something of real beauty and innovation.” He adopted a more conciliatory tone on Tuesday. “[If] you convince artists to invest their time, brand, effort, audience, confidence and creativity in your project, it is important to fully communicate with them, to ensure that they receive royalty statements and that they are paid on time, to respond quickly to their questions ”, Urbina wrote in an article on the Outlaw Ocean Music Project website. “I failed to do these things. The label that I created to manage the project and the subcontractor that I hired to do these things also failed.

Urbina first contacted the musicians before her book The Outlaw Ocean: Journeys Across the Last Savage Frontier to see if they would make music related to the release. The Faq from tthe outlaw ocean projectThe ‘website says its mission is twofold. First of all, “to Disseminate journalism through non-media channels such as music platforms, ideally to reach a younger and more global audience ”and“ bring more attention to what we believe to be urgent and worthy reporting ”. Second, “to fund more reports using music-derived streaming revenue.”

Urbina reiterated these themes in her apologies. “The aim was to convert stories into a different language, namely music, as a creative way to grab the attention of a younger and more diverse audience – the audience even sometimes missed by mainstream media,” said he wrote. “I thought, and I still do, that this was a new way of getting journalism to flow through platforms other than news. All the money that came in was used to release new albums and recruit more artists.

However, some of the artists who spoke to Rolling stone about the project felt that Urbina had promised too much – a claim contested by Urbina – and that it had not been delivered, especially with regard to the exhibition, he said The Outlaw Ocean the project would receive. Additionally, an experienced music lawyer who reviewed the contract Urbina sent to at least one musician said she would advise a potential client not to sign it.

In her apologies, Urbina also reiterated some of her precedent Sub-stack station, saying that he would freely return musical rights to all artists unhappy with their involvement in tthe outlaw ocean project. “If the musicians now have (or previously felt) that the project has become too important or has not worked well for them, the ethical path to follow, it seems to me, is clear: we give you back. your music and you are free to publish elsewhere on your own, ”Urbina wrote.

At least one artist is already taking advantage of this opportunity. “I am in the process of signing an agreement to terminate the original contract, which means that the rights to the music will revert to me, and I will have no obligation to share royalties with Synesthesia”, Lassi Kotamaki, who makes music like Idealism, tell Rolling stone by email. (Synesthesia is a label created by Urbina for the Outlaw Ocean Project.) “I hope other artists can do it too.”

Another issue, however, remains to be resolved: a dispute between Urbina and Naymlis Inc. over the disbursement of stream royalties from the Outlaw Ocean Project. Until recently, the Spotify for Artists tool reported that Urbina was bringing in around 50,000 streams per day on Spotify, a significant amount. Naymlis, which is primarily a management company, handled the distribution of Synesthesia.

In a statement on Twitter on Monday, Synesthesia blamed Naymlis for any failed or delayed payments to artists involved in tthe outlaw ocean project. “To date, Synesthesia itself has not received any payment or royalty statements from Naymlis Inc. since June 2021,” Synesthesia wrote on Twitter. The label pledged to “continue, through our lawyers, to pressure Naymlis to pay artists what is due to them and provide them with the statements they are owed”. (This tweet echoes the Faq from tthe outlaw ocean projectwebsite.)

But Naymlis manager Kyle Dick hit back at Synesthesia’s claims in a series of statements provided to Rolling stone. Dick alleges that the fault of any late payment lies with Urbina’s etiquette. Further, he accuses Synesthesia of “blaming it” on Naymlis “to distract the public’s attention” that the Outlaw Ocean Project “has reached a scale where the needs and understanding of artists has been overlooked.”

“Our access to the information needed to prepare royalty returns was cut off by Synesthesia in August,” says Dick. “This access was only restored very recently. As a result, this delayed the preparation of royalty returns. All artists who owed royalties were made aware of this delay, and as soon as we regained access, we worked diligently to get those statements out. Since then, all artists who were owed money have received up-to-date accounting records of their royalties. “

Dick says Naymlis is now considering taking legal action. He keeps on, “Our hope in commenting in the midst of our own legal battle with Synesthesia is that artists can begin to find a sense of empowerment by understanding their level of value and control over their own creations.”

When presented with Naymlis’ statements, Urbina issued her own rebuttal. “There is no attempt to shift blame on the things that are under our control,” the reporter wrote in an email to Rolling stone. “Naymlis only provided us with our own account statement, a 13,174-page document that we’ve been asking them for months last night, December 6 at 7:27 p.m., going back to December 1, 2020.”

Further, Urbina described Naymlis’ claim that Synesthesia “cut off” access to key information as “a blatant evasion” of corporate responsibilities. “We received many requests from artists regarding royalties and accounting records before August of this year,” Urbina wrote. “And even after that time, Naymlis had access to all the information they needed, except for the password for a single streaming platform, Bandcamp, which we provided following their request in November. . We also heard reports from some artists that they contacted Naymlis on several occasions for copyright information, but never got a response. “

For now, Naymlis and Synesthesia remain at odds. Dick’s statement notes that “[we] are completely disillusioned with our previous partnership with Synesthesia.

“Unfortunately,” Urbina retorts in her email, “we were also disappointed with our experience with them.”


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