Author Exposes Links Between Music Business, Slavery, And Sharecropping

Written by admin   // November 25, 2011   // 0 Comments

Deeann D. Mathews, Author Of ‘The Freedom Guide For Music Creators’

San Francisco, CA ( — Author and speaker Deeann D. Mathews draws a bright line between the philosophy of slave holders, the exploitation of African Americans during the era of sharecropping, and the phenomenon of musicians dying broke while generating billions of dollars for the publishers, record companies, and labels they sign with.

“The idea that a whole group of people could exist solely to enrich another group without just compensation has lurked in the background of modern thought and business since chattel slavery was invented,” said Ms. Mathews. “The music business, particularly for African Americans, is a place where that evil philosophy lives, breeds, and impoverishes creators of music.”

Deeann D. Mathews

In her book, The Freedom Guide for Music Creators, Mathews describes how standard record company practices bear an eerie resemblance to what former slave owners did to African Americans who had no choice but to work under their former masters as farmers under the sharecropping system.

“My ancestors – our ancestors – were able to gain seed, equipment, and a place to live from their former masters in exchange for a share of future crops,” Mathews said. “But our ancestors did not have the right to see if their labor had repaid their debts by looking into the books of their former masters. So, year after year, white southern planters were able to keep our ancestors working without just compensation until well into the 20th century.”

Mathews said that the record industry’s standard practice of charging everything from studio time to packaging on digital downloads against artists’ royalties without giving artists and songwriters the right to audit company books is a music-centered version of southern planter practices.

“Every musician needs to insist on getting an audit clause into every contract they sign – they need to have the right to look into a music company’s books,” Mathews said. “Otherwise, no matter their race, musicians are going to be honorary African Americans in the worst way – sharecropped, chewed up, and spit out.”


Deeann D. Mathews is an African American musician, author, speaker, and business owner living in San Francisco, California. She is presently sharing her book, The Freedom Guide for Music Creators, as a Twitter project at

For more information on audit clauses and other record contract basics, please visit


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