Thought you might want to read this
to know how deep the music industry is spread.
THIS IS A TRUE STORY.
After more than 20 years, I've finally decided to tell
the world what I witnessed in 1991, which I believe
was one of the biggest turning point in popular music,
and ultimately American society. I have struggled for
a long time weighing the pros and cons of making this
story public as I was reluctant to implicate the individuals
who were present that day. So I've simply decided to leave
out names and all the details that may risk my personal
well being and that of those who were, like me,
dragged into something they weren't ready for.
Between the late 80's and early 90’s, I was what
you may call a “decision maker” with one of the more
established company in the music industry.
I came from Europe in the early 80’s and quickly established
myself in the business. The industry was different back then.
Since technology and media weren’t accessible to people
like they are today, the industry had more control over
the public and had the means to influence them anyway it
wanted. This may explain why in early 1991, I was invited
to attend a closed door meeting with a small group of music
business insiders to discuss rap music’s new direction.
Little did I know that we would be asked to participate
in one of the most unethical and destructive business
practice I’ve ever seen. The meeting was held at a private
residence on the outskirts of Los Angeles. I remember
about 25 to 30 people being there, most of them familiar
faces. Speaking to those I knew, we joked about the
theme of the meeting as many of us did not care for
rap music and failed to see the purpose of being invited
to a private gathering to discuss its future. Among the
attendees was a small group of unfamiliar faces who
stayed to themselves and made no attempt to
socialize beyond their circle.
Based on their behavior and formal appearances,
they didn't seem to be in our industry. Our casual chatter
was interrupted when we were asked to sign a confidentiality
agreement preventing us from publicly discussing the
information presented during the meeting. Needless to say,
this intrigued and in some cases disturbed many of us.
The agreement was only a page long but very clear on the
matter and consequences which stated that violating
the terms would result in job termination. We asked several
people what this meeting was about and the reason for such
secrecy but couldn't find anyone who had answers for us.
A few people refused to sign and walked out. No one stopped
them. I was tempted to follow but curiosity got the best of me.
A man who was part of the “unfamiliar” group collected
the agreements from us. Quickly after the meeting began,
one of my industry colleagues (who shall remain
nameless like everyone else) thanked us for attending.
He then gave the floor to a man who only introduced
himself by first name and gave no further details about
his personal background. I think he was the owner of the
residence but it was never confirmed. He briefly praised
all of us for the success we had achieved in our industry
and congratulated us for being selected as part of this small
group of “decision makers”.
At this point I begin to feel slightly uncomfortable at the
strangeness of this gathering. The subject quickly changed
as the speaker went on to tell us that the respective companies
we represented had invested in a very profitable industry
which could become even more rewarding with our active
involvement. He explained that the companies we work
for had invested millions into the building of privately
owned prisons and that our positions of influence in the
music industry would actually impact the profitability of
these investments. I remember many of us in the group
immediately looking at each other in confusion.
At the time, I didn’t know what a private prison was but
I wasn't the only one. Sure enough, someone asked what
these prisons were and what any of this had to do with us.
We were told that these prisons were built by privately
owned companies who received funding from the
government based on the number of inmates. The more
inmates,the more money the government would pay
these prisons.It was also made clear to us that since
these prisons are privately owned, as they become publicly
traded, we’d be able to buy shares. Most of us were taken
back by this. Again, a couple of people asked what this had
to do with us. At this point, my industry colleague who had
first opened the meeting took the floor again and answered
our questions.He told us that since our employers had become
silent investors in this prison business, it was now in their interest
to make sure that these prisons remained filled. Our job would be
to help make this happen by marketing music which promotes
criminal behavior, rap being the music of choice. He assured
us that this would be a great situation for us because rap
music was becoming an increasingly profitable market for
our companies, and as employee, we’d also be able to buy
personal stocks in these prisons.
Immediately, silence came over the room.
You could have heard a pin drop. I remember looking around
to make sure I wasn't dreaming and saw half of the people
with dropped jaws. My daze was interrupted when someone
shouted, “Is this a f****** joke?” At this point things
became chaotic. Two of the men who were part of the
“unfamiliar” group grabbed the man who shouted out
and attempted to remove him from the house.
A few of us, myself included, tried to intervene. One of
them pulled out a gun and we all backed off. They separated
us from the crowd and all four of us were escorted outside.
My industry colleague who had opened the meeting
earlier hurried out to meet us and reminded us that
we had signed agreement and would suffer the
consequences of speaking about this publicly or even
with those who attended the meeting. I asked him why
he was involved with something this corrupt and he
replied that it was bigger than the music business...
To read the rest of the story go here:
Let me take you back 1991