Killabite Media, a popular electronic music record label, has been accused of pocketing hundreds of thousands in unpaid royalties owed to artists.
The allegations arose after Killabite's songs abruptly vanished from digital service providers like Spotify and Apple Music, as well as a purge of all music on the label's verified SoundCloud page. Electronic artist Daniel Sanchez, who produces music under the moniker Paper Skies, was the first to come forward, taking to Twitter to claim that over 150 artists have had their royalties stolen.
Sanchez says that royalties had been remitted by an individual who was eventually forced out by one "Kenny Sam." The DJ alleges that "Kenny" is not the proprietor's real name, but a pseudonym used to scam artists. All social media accounts managed by "Kenny" have apparently been deleted since Sanchez—and a spate of his dance music contemporaries—came forward with allegations of negligence.
"In attempts to contact 'Kenny Sam,' we found no legal connection to any registered businesses, education or social media besides deleted accounts after my post went public," Sanchez told EDM.com in an emailed statement, adding that "Kenny" has severed communication channels with Killabite's artists. "Eventually, some personal connections of 'Kenny' reached out revealing his legal name and information, but we would like to keep this info disclosed to avoid any harassment. The pseudonym 'Kenny Sam' was used on all artist contracts and holds no legal grounds."
According to Sanchez, "Kenny" also used a bot to deceptively swell Killabite's music in lieu of promoting organic growth. He would allegedly start with a boost of 150,000 plays within the first two weeks of a song's release, artificially inflating the music's popularity in order to cut deals with promoters and influencers who thought they were investing a future hit.
Sanchez points to the streaming numbers of a single he released via Killabite called "Comet."
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"I trusted Kenny, had calls where we would laugh and share music, became his friend, and sent him 'Comet' with faith he could make it a special release," Sanchez tweeted. "At the time I was 16 and it was my all-time favorite creation I'd spent months on."
"If you see the majority of your plays on Spotify are coming from clickbait playlists, suspect something shady is happening. If you aren't being paid for your releases, put on the pressure," Sanchez said. "If you're comfortable with bots pushing your music, know another hard-working artist just had their spotlight revoked. Don't be a victim to industry cons turning your music into money-making products. We need more genuine people running the scene if we want to see it grow. Honesty needs to be the strongest policy."
Paper Skies and the other artists involved are currently determining their next steps. Sanchez tells us they've begun to serve termination notices in the hopes of seizing the rights to their music and retaining the royalties accrued from future streams.
"My main goal through uniting the artists," Sanchez said, "has been to help everyone get their rights back, not to seek any sort of vengeance."
Paper Skies has outlined the details of the Killabite debacle in a Twitter thread, which you can read in full below.