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  • Writer's pictureTristra Newyear Yeager

Clearing the Unclearable: Dubset Helps Bring J.PERIOD, Rakim, Black Thought, and Pharoahe Monch’s Gr

Three icons of hip hop on stage, rapping over beats assembled by a mixtape master. All live, all in one take. J.PERIOD, one of the key forces behind the Billboard #1 album, The Hamilton Mixtape, gathered three legends, Rakim, Black Thought, and Pharoahe Monch, for a night at Sony Music Hall, with a few very special guests. The Live Mixtape [#Top5MCs Edition] captured the MCs at their most dynamic, wowing the audience, transforming hip-hop classics, and possibly forging a few new ones.

It’s the stuff of fans’ dreams--and clearance and copyright teams’ nightmares. But it’s a breeze for Dubset, the tech-meets-rights-management powerhouse that can clear everything from mixtapes to remixes at scale and turn them into revenue for artists and writers. This is the first time a project of this kind in this format has been cleared for commercial distribution. “The goal of The Live Mixtape is to create a real Hip Hop moment—to gather these incredible artists together on one stage, to perform and record a mixtape live, in one take. That’s something that hasn’t really been done before,” states J.PERIOD. “The Live Mixtape is a return to Hip Hop’s core principles—real MCing, real DJing—captured for the world to hear. Opening that experience up to the streaming world was the only missing piece of the puzzle."

Enter Dubset. “The traditional clearance process is broken. It requires artists to retain lawyers, individual requests to be submitted. It requires lengthy clearance periods and often hefty advances. This simply doesn’t work in a world of exploding content creation,” says Dubset CEO Stephen White. “Dubset uses very advanced matching technology and broad licenses that enable clearance at scale, while ensuring artists get paid for their work. This unlocks the tremendous creativity of artists like J.PERIOD and allows them to create amazing projects like the live mixtape while ensuring rightsholders’ wishes are adhered to.” This kind of work may feel deep in the weeds, but it’s been a key stumbling block to putting popular forms of sampling and remixed tracks on large music services like Spotify and Apple Music. Hip hop, House, and Electronic music launched an entire ecosystem of remixes, DJ sets, samples, and mashups. This ecosystem grew even richer with the advent of user upload sites like YouTube and SoundCloud. There’s been money to be made, deep catalogs to be revitalized and royalties to be created. However, sites like YouTube and SoundCloud are where these tracks and sets have been forced to live, as there’s been no solid licensing structures in place to deal systematically and quickly with the clearance process. Moreover, these “derivative” works were often viewed with suspicion by labels and publishers, even as they were pillars of the hip hop and club communities. Dubset decided to address this dilemma by building licensing technologies along with trust from publishers and recordings rights holders, in fact creating an entirely new licensing approach and metadata system to ensure everyone gets identified and paid. Urban and rap artists can now simply upload their mixtapes and Dubset’s MixBANK platform does the rest. Beginning with identifying underlying recordings and compositions and assigning new track identifiers prior to distribution, Dubset provides ecosystem transparency and royalty accuracy. Thanks to Dubset’s extensive catalog of over thirty five million tracks, broad sets of content can now be properly cleared and compliantly delivered to the world’s music services. “Mixtapes have been recorded, sold, and shared for the last thirty years. However, very little monetization has ever occured. By establishing a valuable library of this content within music services, the music industry can now open a new segment of consumers to subscription services, the label and publisher’s Holy Grail,” notes Dubset SVP of Global Licensing Bob Barbiere. “There’s a massive vault of back-catalog that’s ready-to-go, not to mention the millions of hours of Hip Hop mixtapes being created each year. Our success is not only a win for music fans, it’s a big stride forward for rightsholders by accelerating the subscription pie for all.” “What Dubset has accomplished here is truly groundbreaking. If The Hamilton Mixtape changed the game, Dubset has redefined the ground rules from here on out,” points out J.PERIOD. “The idea that we can create and capture a moment like this, and then share it in the streaming realm, opens up a world of creative possibilities for the future of DJs. We set out to create a moment, and showcase three of Hip Hop’s greatest MC’s. Now, thanks to Dubset, that moment, frozen in time, can be shared openly with the entire world.”

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