An Open Letter to Rap Artists: 9/23/2003
My name is Alan Berry; I have owned and operated Berry’s Music in Indianapolis, Indiana for thirteen years. We have been a rap store since day one. When other retailers were hiding their copies of NWA “Straight out of Compton” we had it proudly displayed and playing in the store non-stop. Remember that neighborhood store up the street or around the corner you used to get all the newest jams from? The store, were the guy behind the counter knew what was tight and what was weak. That’s Berry’s Music.
We breathe rap day in and day out. Today, a RIAA agent and local police authorities raided both of my stores and warehouse. They confiscated $10,000 worth of inventory. Only 5% of our total inventory. The other $190,000 is regular label bought cds. No counterfeits, just DJ mixes. Like DJ Green Lantern’s latest. Not a booted copy but the real mix cd. So, I ask rap artists why do you endorse mix cds but not defend the retailers against the RIAA for selling what you endorse? How many times on a mix have you dropped a line telling the listeners to check out DJ Whoo, DJ Clue, Kayslay, or whatever mix cd your hosting? Berry’s Music customers already knew 50cent was going to be tight. Everyone had been hearing him on mixes for a while. 50 was a marketing genius on how he pre-marketed his album before it dropped. Did mixes hurt him or help him? We don’t sell bootleg copies of a regular album. The local DJ comes in with a new CD filled with songs that your label gave him to put on his newest mix, plus has you saying, “This is whoever and your listing to blah-blah mix”. But if I sell it I can be arrested and have product confiscated. Please, I mean no disrespect to anyone. I’m just making you aware of the fact that in Indianapolis, Chicago, and who knows where else; the street mix is going to die. We all have bumped our favorite mix while ridding. But now if you don’t know the DJ, how will you get that new tight mix that just dropped? The mix that has a new artist you never heard before, now you can’t wait for his cd to drop. I’m not talking about eating off someone else’s plate. If DJ Green Lantern drops a new mix, don’t you want to sell them? If so then let the RIAA know, so we can sell it. Because it’s the retailer that will be arrested, not you. You will see a lot of urban music stores closing without mixes. Street mixes are an integral part of rap’s continuing dominance on the charts. Please Eminem, Jay-Z, 50 Cent, let your voice be heard to the RIAA to back off busting stores selling mixes you endorse or make. Continue to have the RIAA busting stores for counterfeiting your record label cds. Or do nothing and ignore this one retailers day of unexpected injustice.
1101 North Arlington Ave
Indianapolis, IN. 46219