The following poignant message was written by founding member, JP Concepcion, of Philippines based band garage punk band The Dropouts in regards to their song Langit-Lupa being used in the recent Netflix video Happy Jail. We fully support the band’s stance in regards to this matter and also support the band in asking for some sort of clarification and recognition of their music and art:
“Last Sunday, a concerned friend showed us a footage from a Netflix show, “Happy Jail”, wherein “Langit-Lupa” by The Dropouts was used.
At first, we thought it was used illegally so I immediately messaged our label and posted a Facebook status to survey if anyone from my network knew someone from their production team so that I could talk to them directly. After researching, I discovered that the director has a Facebook account. I wanted to settle this discreetly as much as possible, so I immediately deleted my initial post and proceeded in messaging the said director. To the director’s credit, she responded to my questions immediately. She said she really liked our song and she really wanted to highlight Filipino music in Happy Jail. She was also suggesting that I also contact our label/rep (which I already did); because as she and her team is concerned, they obtained the license to the songs legally thru Seven Seas, an intermediary rep.
Okay, so no problem with that – as we were still checking on the digital album distribution agreement which unfortunately (as per our label) includes a sync licensing clause. I then proceeded in politely explaining that my bandmates were upset and slighted with regards how the song was used and presented in the show, and that I have a request – I wanted proper crediting for the song.
Here is my message to her:
“I just have a request, maybe you and your team could update the subtitles like the ones I usually see in Netflix and in most films. As me and my bandmates were really slighted by the “upbeat punk rock music playing” subtitle.
Obviously, we cannot do anything right now with regards the usage of the song in your show as we’re still looking into the licensing issue. Like you, I assume, we also don’t settle for anything less. We are unique individuals working as a unit to create art. Art that we honestly think is beautiful and done to the best of our ability.
“Langit-Lupa”, to me, is our magnum opus. We hold the song dearly to our hearts. And it is not about suspects or criminals. For me, it speaks about innocence, coming of age, a flawed thinking of a young individual that will eventually result into adult wisdom. It captured my imagination as an artist. Hence, me and my bandmates decided to curate it as part of our album.
Artist to artist, you as a director and us being musicians committed to the excellence of your/our craft, we are humbly requesting for you to at least give proper crediting to the song by mentioning the title and the artist. We may not agree with how the song was used. But that’s out of the question as of now due to the licensing debacle. But at least honor our request. This is not a request out of legality. My request is anchored on what I think an artist should grant another artist; morally and ethically.”
I was surprised on how she reacted. She lambasted me on contacting her, us having issues with our label, being a professional musician, that she didn’t criticize our work and me asking her to give proper crediting for our song. I told her that I contacted her directly, because I think that that’s the most logical and practical way to address the situation as opposed to discovering my concerns thru a viral post. As the captain of her ship, she’s expected to have answers to my inquiries about her show and materials that they used. Also, as the end-user of our song and given the situation, she will be able to answer more openly and give us information that a middleman will not be able provide easily.
Us having issues with our label? Well, obviously, there is an issue – that’s why I messaged her and our label. If there is none, I would not have messaged her. I was merely asking for her assistance and some clarification since she was the end-user, and obviously, her answers would be different from the label.
As for criticizing her work, it was not meant to offend. It was just to relay that my bandmates weren’t pleased on how the song was presented and used. Again, the song was acquired legally as per her argument, so we’re okay with that as of now. But it doesn’t mean that because it was obtained legally, that everything is okay. It is not.
As for the proper crediting, she said she was not cool with it because as per Netflix standards, they don’t normally indicate the title of the song and artist in the subtitle and in the closing credits to which I respectfully disagreed. I even sent her a photo of a Mindhunter trailer which includes a song title [“Night Shift” playing] in the subtitle.
She then proceeded in mentioning that she is an Emmy-winning film director, and that she was not treated “this way” before. That irked me, as I did not see the connection of her mentioning an Emmy award to our conversation. But as an Emmy-winning film director, I was expecting more from her; I was expecting she’d champion crediting artists for their work. But it seems to me that what she was trying to imply to me is that we’re a charity case; that we should be thankful that our work was included and used in her show, a show directed by an Emmy-winning director.
Well, that’s not the case.
I said that I admire that she won an Emmy, but I really don’t care (no offense). With or without an Emmy (or any award for that matter), our work will standout. We just want proper crediting for our song. Because of this, it is as if the prisoners and the jail was just being romanticized by the show because they went viral on YouTube. For a show (Happy Jail) being promoted that “everyone is deserving of dignity and respect”, I am quite disappointed. If the director cannot even give proper credit to the song that she liked and used for her show, there’s a disconnect.
TO ALL TV, MOVIE & COMMERCIAL PRODUCTIONS:
Please make an effort to properly ask an artist when you’re considering licensing and using their music, especially those who are independent and are represented by an “intermediary rep”. Not everything legally done is acceptable morally and ethically. And also, lesser known artists don’t have lesser rights. Times have changed, it’s very easy to reach out to an artist for verification and permission – 2019 na po.
I just binged watched Stranger Things yesterday. All songs were properly credited, even in the subtitles. I can’t see why our song should be treated differently.
Please address the issue regarding the proper crediting of the song:
From the album, “The Dropouts!” (2016)
Written & Music by Vik Laugo (2013)
Performed by The Dropouts!
Produced & Engineered by Ced Concepcion
Released by Bomba! Press
We, The Dropouts!: Vik, Beejay and JP collectively stands for artists’ rights.
And to the one reading this, you should too.”
What are your thoughts?