If you don’t know who I am, you’re not alone. My name is Phil Dutra. I am an Austin, TX based Singer/Songwriter with 2 CDs and a digital single on all the music streaming services including Spotify, iTunes and Apple Music. I used a great DIY distributor named CD Baby to get them online. To be perfectly honest, my stats, both streaming and downloads, have been lame at best. Granted, 3 of my songs have been “watched” on youtube, where they have received over 20,000 views each. That’s due to them being played in Supermarkets and drugstores all over the country and people searching online to find them. But, that’s the most exposure my songs have received. People hearing my tunes, interrupted by “clean up on aisle 12”. Let’s just say my marketing degree from NYU has not been utilized to its full potential. In other words, I suck at self-promotion.
About 2 months ago, I was checking out my streaming stats on the Spotify For Artists portal. I noticed a huge spike in streams for my song “Feel This Way” from my debut CD “See The World”.
Wow! Seriously?! A 674,200% increase in streams month over month!! Where did that come from?! I guess someone liked what they heard and I was lucky enough to be added to a popular playlist! Yup, “rhits” is the playlist and I was getting about a thousand streams a day. That’s up from oh… about 3 or 4. So, yeah! I was Thrilled
Then, 4 of my other songs got added to that playlist and a few more to boot. Granted, these aren’t "Drake" numbers but I was feeling like kind of a big deal!
After a few days, I was checking my stats again a decided to dig a little deeper to see what other songs were on these playlists. I clicked another playlist called “bestnewmusic”, where 4 of my other songs were added. I scrolled down to find my songs and there was the first one. “Anything You Need” by “Daniel Havasi”. Wait. What? Daniel Havasi? Who the hell is Daniel Havasi? I clicked on the song. Sure enough, it’s my sound recording with another artist’s name. Okay, now I’m confused. I click on his name and I see 4 Albums released in 2019. One of is titled “Another Day Alone”. That’s the title of one of my songs. I click on that Album and I see TEN of my songs listed on his release. They’re all my songs. This POS stole my songs, with a couple of others, I assume, that were stolen from other artists. I checked Apple Music and there it was. I checked Youtube and there they were. My songs, showing him as the artist, uploaded by DistroKid, another online distributor like CD Baby.
Suddenly, I am filled with rage, confusion, fear. How does this happen?! How can someone get away with this?! How can I find and beat the crap out of Daniel Havasi?!
I reached out to my Austin Songwriter friends on Facebook. What the hell should I do? “Call a lawyer” was the universal reply. Granted, I’ve done my due diligence by registering all my songs and CDs with the Library of Congress. I even have them registered with BMI. But, this was uncharted territory.
I reached out to The Legal Referral Service of Central Texas and got the contact information for a local entertainment attorney. He advised me to reach out to DistroKid and request a “DMCA Takedown Notice” for this copyright infringement. He gave me some suggestions with the proper legal wording such as “I am requesting this, under penalty of perjury” and other scary stuff like that. He was kind enough to not charge me for the time and advice he gave! I wrote it up and submitted it to DistroKid. I included all the links to my songs, showing me as the rightful owner of the sound recordings. It was a fairly painless process, but I was still worried about the outcome. I finally heard back from DistroKid, confirming that they were taking down the entire album “Another Day Alone” that the thief known as Daniel uploaded. It took about a week to have the album removed from all streaming services. Then suddenly, it was gone. I succeeded in getting my songs back! And the best part is, they are still on those playlists! They’re still getting thousands of streams daily, with my name and CD artwork displaying, instead of Daniel Havasi’s!! I am getting “credit” for all those streams and will be paid for all of them. So, in a way, it may have been a good thing that my songs were temporarily stolen? I’m still trying to figure that one out.
A few side notes. I searched for any links to Daniel, if that’s his real name. All I saw were links to Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube. Nothing else for him. Nothing on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. DistroKid provided me the email address he used to create his account but that also came up empty when I searched for it online. I am still contemplating contacting “Daniel” via email. I’ll let you know if I do. Daniel still has 3 other CDs online, which I assume are also stolen form other artists. My next step will be “Shazaming” the songs to see who the real artists are and contacting them, so they can also get their music back!
Phil Dutra is an Austin based Singer/Songwriter. His Melodic Retro-Pop sound can be heard on all the major streaming platforms and at www.phildutramusic.com.