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Music supervisor sacked from Spike Lee film after charging to receive submissions

By | Published on Tuesday 2 June 2015

DJ Slugo

Producer and DJ Slugo has reportedly been sacked as music supervisor on Spike Lee’s new film ‘Chiraq’ after he attempted to charge artists to have their music featured in the movie.

DJ Slugo had seemingly been hired to scout music from Chicago-based acts. Last week, he emailed the artists and industry folk with whom he had been in contact about Lee’s new production, saying: “Unfortunately I may have lost my submission privileges for making a very bad decision in trying to charge Chicago artists for an opportunity to submit music for this film. This is not the way Spike Lee nor his team operates and I take full responsibility for my bad decision”.

“I am doing everything in my power to fix this problem with Mr Lee and his team so that the artist submissions that I have in my email are not punished for my wrong doings”, he continued. “Please forgive me for my actions and I hope that I can fix this and somehow get your submission to their staff. Again I ask that you forgive my poor decision making! Please hold me and only me responsible for this issue, what I did was in no way professional and whatever punishment Mr Lee wants to hand down to me I will accept it and ask him to please not hold it against any Chicago artist, period”.

Following the publication of this statement, artist manager Christine Infanger posted emails from DJ Slugo to her Thirty Roses blog, showing the requests for payment made by the producer. An initial email asked for a fee of $300 and 10% of future revenues per submission, or $500 to reduce the royalty cut to 0%. Later, this was reduced to $100 or $250 per submission.

Artists and rights owners being charged (or asked to give up rights) for sync opportunities – or even just to be considered for a sync deal – will always be controversial. It’s not the norm, but there are plenty of people out there who will seek a quick buck from new talent, and not just in the sync domain.

“The expectation of pay to play by DJs and blogs is becoming something of a regular occurrence, and one that leaves new artists in a difficult position”, wrote Infanger in her post on the issue. “This is nothing new in music, but with the increased popularity of independent websites, Tumblr pages, and podcasts, there are more outlets than ever for artists to find an audience. As wonderful as this is, it leaves much room for bad practices to become acceptable … One thing is certain; if artists don’t become more vocal about these incidents, not only will they become more commonplace, the cost will become far greater”.

As previously reported, last month The Hype Machine moved to delist music blogs featuring posts placed by marketers to falsely boost the popularity of certain artists in the aggregator’s charts. Also, during CMU Insights @ The Great Escape, the problem of payola on influential third party produced streaming playlists was raised, as placement of music in key playlists becomes increasingly important for breaking new music.