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Toronto Stores Raided for Mixtapes

Toronto police effectively shut down the city’s mixtape market

On Monday, October 4, the Toronto police raided two Toronto mom and
poprecord stores|, seizing 3,000 tapes – the majority being DJ
mixtapes – andCDs. Five employees at TRAXXX and Play De Record each
face one charge offraud under $5,000. “Plain clothes officers came
in and got all thecustomers out,” said a Play De Record employee,
who requested anonymity.”They closed the store and just picked out
all the stuff.””It’s been an ongoing investigation for the past few
months,” says DetectiveGarry Deller of the Toronto Police
Intelligence Service, a division of theorganized crime unit. “It
was just sparked by the number of [mix]tapes thatwe had seen in
various outlets and places like barber shops and clothingstores.”

The Canadian Recording Industry Association supported the
investigation.”Part of [the CRIA] mandate includes investigations
and enforcement ofproperty rights, sound recordings, music videos
and anything else the recordcompanies own,” says Ken Thompson, CRIA
vice president. “None of theserecording were licensed. They were
being manufactured and sold at prices incompetition with the record
companies’own recordings.”

Mixtapes have long been used as a promotional tool for DJs,
artists,independent and major record labels. They create a
street-level buzz forupcoming major releases and are critical for
the exposure of independentartists. In Canada, where urban radio
and television outlets are scarce,mixtapes are a crucial means of
getting music to the masses. Confusionregarding the recent charges
has arisen since the CRIA acts on behalf of themajor Canadian
record labels, yet many of the labels recognize, and usemixtapes as
a promotion vehicle.

Approximately three years ago, Toronto DJ crew Baby Blue, which
producesmixCDs, was threatened with legal action, says Desmond
Hill, manager ofToronto clothing store Lounge, who up until the
raid did a brisk trade intapes. An employee of Play De Record
called all the Canadian major labels atthat time and was told:
“We’re just after the Canadian mixCDs, mixtapes arefine.”

“I believe we worked with most of the major labels for
mixtapes,” saysMastermind, a well-known Toronto hip-hop DJ who
pioneered mixtapes inCanada. “I’ve had labels get mad at me if
their songs didn’t get properplacement on the mixtape. That just
shows you how important they knew thetapes were.”

A court date for the five charged employees has been set for
November 15.

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