Not Your Jukebox is known for often taking a negative tone. Despite what some have suggested in the comments section, we are not driven by bitterness (well, not completely anyway) but rather a desire to protect and elevate a culture that we (along with many others) spent over half a lifetime fighting to build from the ground up. A scene that was, among other things, built around fellowship in the face of adversity and a government that wanted to completely shut us down. That is why it is especially heinous when someone within the culture steals from their own and violates a trust that was essential to ensure the very survival of the music.
In this particular case, the accused, one Thomas Vitali, is a prime example of just such a violation, a violation that is a cancer in the already compromised immune system of dance music culture. His crime, you ask? That of giving himself writer’s credit to songs that he had nothing to do with the making of. This just one of many violations alleged against him, including claims that he has also outright taken music created by others, changed the title of the track, and released it under his own or someone else’s name.
If you aren’t fluent in the intricacies of the music business, you are probably wondering why putting his name down as the writer of a song is that big of a deal, or maybe even ultimately what difference it makes. It is a big deal because two things happen: 1) it gives him an element of control over a song that he absolutely should not have and 2) it allows him to syphon off money from the actual creator(s) of the music whenever the music is sold, streamed, licensed, etc. Not to mention that this is straight up copyright infringement, fraud, and plagiarism.
Your next question should be, “How did he even do this?” I’m glad you asked. As it turns out he bought up some labels (primarily under his Plusquam Records Label Group), notably the once respectable Baroque Records, which gave him access to an entire catalogue of music to manipulate. From there he updated the metadata sent to distributors with his name in the “written by” section.
Fortunately some of the artists effected by this discovered it took steps to have Baroque removed from sites like Beatport and Traxsource and even the original distributor, but the problem is that other labels continue to license the tracks for compilations and Thomas keeps moving to unwitting distributors, even utilizing various ISRC codes (basically a songs digital fingerprint) and pseudonyms.
While Thomas did not respond to our requests to discuss this matter, he has had some discussions with some of the artists effected, to which they have shared. One artist in particular, Hector “DJ Huggie” Merida, shared some screen shots of his conversation, which to no surprise, is very similar to the accounts provided by other artists.
I want to pause here and clarify a couple of things. Thomas references “88 listeners a month”, this is in regards to Huggie’s Spotify listeners. Thomas claims that he himself has over a million, yet all of his social media pages maybe add up to 600 fans. I find it hard to believe that these Spotify listeners (which he claims makes him a “real” artist) are actual fans and not just paid-for streams. Either way, if he is getting that many streams and adding his name to tracks that don’t belong to him, there are a lot of artists not getting paid money that is rightly theirs.
Many of the effected artists have clarified that he hasn’t been providing artists with any kind of royalty reporting or payouts, that makes it clear that he is keeping any money made from the these millions of streams to himself, which is not only a breach of contract, it is immoral. According to Dun & Bradstreet (a company that provides commercial data, analytics, and insights for businesses) Thomas, in 2018, made over $112,000 under his company name of “Thomas Vitali Tonstudio Psytropic Records”, $112,000 that no known artist saw a dime of or was even reported to, and that’s just one of his labels.
It got cut off in the screen grab, but Huggie provides a couple examples of the tracks that demonstrate exactly what Thomas did wrong.
Here you can clearly see, the song (as listed on Spotify) says it was written by Thomas when it definitely was not, in fact, this song was originally released before Thomas bought Baroque, meaning the data was changed after his purchase, keep this in mind for later. This is one of hundreds of examples. HUNDREDS of artists have been robbed by this guy, including artists like Astrix, Liquid Soul (who recently, and rightly, sued one of Thomas’ labels a few months ago), Ace Ventura, Mad Maxx, GMS, and so many others (all of which have songs that show Thomas’ name in the “Written by” section of the track info, songs that he definitely did not write).
In between threatening legal action and calling everyone an asshole and an idiot, he does go on to try to explain how this happened when talking to someone defending Huggie:
Here he tries to pass it off as mistake in the metadata resulting from the distributor. This is 100% false. A label has to provide the metadata to the distributor. So unless he is a complete incompetent idiot (the jury is still out on that one) there is no way this was a mistake, it was deliberately supplied by him to the distributor. Further, since the music has already been published BEFORE he bought Baroque, HE CHANGED THE DATA AFTER BE BOUGHT THE LABEL. Let’s play his game, let’s say it was a mistake, it would be easy to fix, easier than attacking everyone rightly asking “WTF?!” So why hasn’t he fixed all the effected music?
I also find it interesting that he constantly threatens legal action, no legitimate lawyer in their right mind would take this case or try to defend someone that is so blatantly stealing, committing fraud, and in breach of contract. This is theft, plain and simple. Based on his actions, I find it hard to believe that he invented this scam, leading me to believe that other people are running this scam. If you have music out there, you might want to do yourself a favor and check to see that everything is on the up and up.
If you have any music on any of the labels owned by Thomas Vitali or on partnering labels that have released or licensed music from his labels you definitely want to check things out. I’d, at the very least, send a notice that he is in breach of contract and get the rights to your music back.
Here is a list of labels known to be owned by or partnered with Thomas:
Amplify Your Music,
Bondi Beach Records,
Bosphorus Underground Recordings,
Cherry Lounge Recordings,
DC10 VIP Records,
Flat Belly Limited,
Flat Belly Recordings,
Flat Belly White,
Freaky Culture Futurefy Records,
Galore Music USA,
Groove Control Records,
Ibiza Party Squad,
Planet B.E.N. Records,
Plusquam Domestic Special,
Plusquam Records Label Group,
Prog Dog Recordings,
Sick beatz Records,
Tech Factory Recordings,
Turning Wheel Records,
Weekend Music, WMG,
Weekend Warrios Day,
Distributors known to supply the effected music (along with contact info, hint hint):
+1 (702) 793-7602
Isolation Network / Ingrooves
Digidis – Music Mail GmbH
+49 (711) 365-46900
Jürgen Wiesbeck Managing Director
+49(0)621 122 858 11
+31 (0)20–620 47 85