Election Section

Jackson says recording industry cheats minorities artists

By VERENA DOBNIK, Associated Press Writer
Monday July 08, 2002

NEW YORK — Multiplatinum singer Michael Jackson, already feuding with his record company, charged Saturday that the recording industry was a racist conspiracy that turns profits at the expense of performers — particularly minority artists. 

“The recording companies really, really do conspire against the artists — they steal, they cheat, they do everything they can,” Jackson said in a rare public appearance. ”(Especially) against the black artists.” 

Jackson, 43, who began his recording career as a child, spoke at the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network in Harlem. Sharpton and attorney Johnnie Cochran Jr. recently formed a coalition to investigate whether artists are being financially exploited by record labels. 

He also singled out Sony Music chairman Tommy Mottola, saying he was “mean, he’s a racist, and he’s very, very, very devilish.” Jackson also accused Mottola of using “the n-word” when speaking about an unidentified black Sony artist. 

Sony Music issued a statement calling Jackson’s comments “ludicrous, spiteful and hurtful. It seems particularly bizarre that he has chosen to launch an unwarranted and ugly attack on an executive who has championed his career ... for many, many years.” 

Sony produced Jackson’s last album, “Invincible,” which has had disappointing sales despite an estimated $25 million in promotion. The singer’s fans say Sony didn’t do enough to launch the album. Others in the industry say sagging sales were indicative of Jackson’s declining appeal. 

Jackson mentioned several black artists as victims of the industry, including James Brown, Mariah Carey and Sammy Davis Jr.