Coast 2 Coast Threatens Litigation Against DMN for Calling It a ‘Scheme’

What happens if you don’t like the press you’re getting?

One option is to look at your business model and address the issues, or address the coverage head-on.  The other option is to try to intimidate and bully publications that disagree and criticize, even if that coverage is accurate and protected by the First Amendment.

That latter option is apparently the strategy being pursued by Coast 2 Coast Mixtapes, a service that targets aspiring, unsigned rappers while offering the possibility of label deals and success.  But instead of addressing real concerns about this questionable approach raised by Digital Music News, Coast 2 Coast Mixtapes (and its parent company, Lil Fats, Inc.) has now threatened legal action against DMN for calling it a ‘scheme’ and ‘scummy’ in a late-January guest post.

The sloppy and threatening ‘nastygram,’ sent by New York-based music attorney Cassandra Spangler, accuses Digital Music News of defamation and libel, claims ‘significant injury’ against Coast 2 Coast, while demanding the total removal of all ‘libelous references’ and screenshots of Coast 2 Coast offers from our article.  The cease-and-desist also dangles the ‘possible filing of a lawsuit against Digital Music News seeking monetary damages and an injunction’.

In response, Digital Music News has not only kept the original post intact, we’ve pursued additional investigation into Coast 2 Coast.  Because if there’s one golden rule about defamation, it’s this: it isn’t defamation if it’s true.

Here’s another rule about lawyers: they often abuse their power by making grandiose, threatening statements in an attempt to scare people without legal knowledge.  Indeed, the c&d ‘nastygram’ is often a weapon used by overly aggressive, bullying companies with extremely flimsy claims that would never stand up in court, oftentimes filled with sloppy, ill-supported, angry language.  And it all typically carries one goal: intimidation.

One problem with this reprehensible practice is that the recipient of one of these nastygrams can fire right back, and effectively call bullshit.  Which is exactly what we’re going to do.  In this case, we see a number of critical and problematic issues with the letter sent to us by Coast 2 Coast’s counsel, including several outright incorrect assertions, many of which were confirmed by the attorneys we consulted.

In fact, after reading this ridiculous letter, one attorney suggested Coast 2 Coast fire their counsel.  For starters:

(a) Calling a business a ‘scheme’ doesn’t constitute defamation.

Far from it, a ‘scheme’ could apply to any business, including Digital Music News.  Perhaps business people prefer to call this a ‘model,’ but Google the term ‘scheme’ and you will find it technically defined as:

‘a large-scale systematic plan or arrangement for attaining some particular object or putting a particular idea into effect.’  

In that light, Verizon Wireless is a ‘scheme’ for producing revenues from mobile subscribers; Universal Music Group is a ‘scheme’ for attaining revenues derived from music, and Digital Music News is a ‘scheme’ for producing revenues from music industry coverage.

Now, to the extent that ‘scheme’ carries a negative connotation, we are certainly allowed to express the opinion that Coast 2 Coast can be characterized as misleading to the young, impressionable artists that it targets.  In the opinion of the author of the piece, Gaetano DiNardi, as well as that of Digital Music News, charging artists substantial fees for a chance at exposure in front of questionably anointed ‘celebrity’ judges and gatekeepers, while playing off of their hopes and dreams isn’t the most wholesome or honest business approach.  As far as we know, this isn’t illegal, though it raises ethical issues that all artists should be aware of.

(b) Calling a business ‘scummy’ does not constitute defamation.

Those concerns outlined above are why the author of the guest piece called Coast 2 Coast ‘scummy’.  It figuratively means dirty, not wholesome, and certainly not straightforward.  Coast 2 Coast, please don’t make a judge laugh at you.

(c) A lawyer shouldn’t be citing laws from the State of New York when nobody involved resides in the State of New York.

Digital Music News is based in California, while Coast 2 Coast has a listed address in Portland, Oregon (with Miami another listed location).  That means the only person in New York is the lawyer, which might explain why her letter constantly and specifically cites laws from the State of New York.  Spangler also repeatedly cites specific case law from the State of New York, even though any threatened legal action would have to be filed outside of her home state.

(d) Courts are typically extremely unfriendly to flimsy, bullying challenges based on loosely-defined ‘defamation’ and ‘libel,’ especially when they involve freedom of the press.

In fact, Coast 2 Coast’s attorney might want to look up Supreme Court rulings on the matter (I’d tell you the cases, but do your own research).  Turns out the right to express an opinion about a public figure, company, or government has been heavily protected in this country since about the 1700s.

(e) Further investigations into the business model of Coast 2 Coast validate our earlier concerns.

In our initial piece, DiNardi offered strong opinions on the way Coast 2 Coast used promises to lure money from aspiring, inexperienced young artists.  That involved follow-up interviews with a number of rappers who either were participating, previously participated, or canceled their participation with Coast 2 Coast based on concerns over their claims and general business approach.

Perhaps unsurprising given this company’s attempt to stifle Digital Music News’ critical coverage, most of those artists declined to go on record with their experiences.  One that did was 16 year-old $lim Tuc, who was accepted into the program, paid an initial $150 deposit, but withdrew based on unresolved questions about this company and its practices.

(Actually, you might want to check out $lim Tuc here, you can tell it’s early but it’s not bad!)

Additionally, Gaetano submitted an unedited Gucci Mane track as a submission into the Coast 2 Coast ‘tour,’ which resulted in an immediate approval (and immediate requirement to pay $150 upfront).  This proves zero selectivity on the part of Coast 2 Coast, and suggests that this company will approve anyone willing to pay for access (even if they have little-to-no chance of ever being signed or are ripping off someone else’s work).

Beyond this, we’ve also found numerous other indications of wrongdoing, including a high-profile complaint from Meek Mill over misuse of his likeness and misleading association.

Perhaps the most damning aspect of our ongoing investigation into this company is how many other people are actively questioning its ethics.  And that is most glaringly displayed by one little thing: Google Auto-Complete, which catalogs and presents the top search activity around key search terms from millions of users.

As later documented by DiNardi, Google’s top Auto-Complete around ‘Coast 2 Coast’ is ‘scam’.

Here’s a copy of the letter we received from Coast 2 Coast’s attorney, Cassandra Spangler.

32 Responses

  1. Bazooka Joe

    Wow. 2-Day Priority Mail and everything! OMFG! Stop the plugins! Circle the wagons! Alert the blogroll public!

    A boney fide cherry poppin’ saber rattle sissy fight is upon DMN. Cheers Paul.


    • Anonymous

      haha attonrney uses a gmail? hahaha. ya.. thats a secured line of communication u should have with yoru lawyer. hahahahahahaahaha

  2. Anonymous

    Nothing will come of this. The attorney doesn’t think so, either. Read between the lines: “it is my client’s position…”

  3. KevinC

    You should not respond here to it. You should write back and rebut the claims. If you don’t rebut it, you may end up giving silent consent. *

    * not legal advice

    • Paul Resnikoff

      Kevin, you’re definitely not a lawyer, so don’t worry, I’m not taking your legal advice. But what’s interesting is why you’d think I have to rebut anything. I’m amazed that people somehow think that you have to respond in a certain way to a bullying lawyer, or do anything they say for that matter (especially in situations like these).

      There are people that can legally command me to do things. If a Santa Monica Police officer tells me to get out of my car, I’ll follow that order. If a US District Court judge tells me to show up in his chambers at 9 am, I’ll show up at that time. If some lawyer tells me to do something with a bunch of questionable threats and zero court paperwork, then I have no obligation to comply.

      Now, if there was an actual legal breach, and I flatly refused to change it, then that can later be submitted in front of a court as part of a civil proceeding. But that’s not what’s happening here.

      Thanks for commenting on DMN!

      • KevinC

        You’re right i’m not a lawyer, i don’t want to be one, they are the scum of the earth. I sense a little hostility in your response, but lets leave it there.

        The law is based on presumption and that presumption is always NOT on your side. You may want to do some research into “tacit acceptance or agreement” If you rebut the claim, you remove any attempt that may lead into tacit. It only means writing back to them and deal with it administratively. Cocky responses will get you nowhere, the law requires that you always act in honor *

        * not legal advise – use it, don’t use it

        • Paul Resnikoff

          I was screaming at the world, please don’t take it personally.

    • Anonymous

      “You should write back and rebut the claims”

      No need to do that, most of the mail you get from lawyers can be dismissed as haressment.

      And if you think the word ‘scheme’ is defamatory, you’re more thin-skinned than Donald Trump. I think these guys have it confused with ‘scam’…

  4. Daniel Hartnett The Corporatethief Beats

    Interesting investigation , I also took a look at officialgaetano’s article which is well written too. These articles have really opened my eyes about C2C. I really just that they had rap blog connections and that’s how they were able to promote artists. But it’s starting to a look a bit weird when the place a spin on Meek Mills Co Sign Tag , and Artist submitting Gucci Mane Tracks to the site and their is no selection process.

  5. Roy

    Just out of curiosity, has anyone who has ever participated in a Coast 2 Coast mixtape ever signed a major label record deal?

    By the way, NY and California music laws are VERY different. Most NYC lawyers aren’t up on those differences. I have done several deals in both markets, and there are significant differences that people going into the music business should read up on. It can unnecessarily cost you a lot of money, otherwise.

    • Gaetano

      Hey Roy, thanks for your comment. And no, we have found zero evidence of a success story that was directly attributed to the efforts and platform provided by C2C. If such evidence does exist, we’d love to hear from that artist.

    • Clockwork

      I have never heard of one. You shouldn’t have to PAY to be Heard ? Either You are going to Break my Artist or you are NOT ! Simple ! If all involved are smart WHOEVER breaks an Artist is actually Breaking themselves ! It is enough money to be made for everyone.

  6. Vail, CO

    Cassandra I’d say back out of this client but a good lawyer gives good advise and pushes back on stupid demands to do stuff like this. But go get in the mud with DMN, smart idea. You’re not a legal monkey mercenary, you’re not a gun, you should have told this client how stupid this was. Now your name is dragged into this, prospective clients will be finding this.

  7. Literally Can't Even

    Bliugh! In yo’ FACE DMN. Don’t mess with Coast 2 Coast unless you want some BEEF bitch! Just banged yo baby mama! Now I’ma bang yo ho fo sho!

  8. Shlomo

    C2C puts on showcases in cities across the country. It costs money for them to travel, cost time, granting venue and confirming judges requires relationships. There’s a price to pay and 50-150 per act is not unreasonable. The judges ARE local deejays, record industry professionals, music producers etc. not such a sham. Also their marketing actions are no different than most businesses. They have no cause to sue DMN. That letter is ridiculous. I personally sent a lawsuit to DMN in order for them to cover my suit against a major label and they never covered it. Yet the opinion of the scheme author was covered. I really wished DMN focused on facts and not mere opinions.

    Without C2C most of these artists would never have a stage to perform on. At least it gives them experience performing to a crowd. Isn’t that worth 100 bucks?

    • Gaetano

      @Shlomo – Kind of just sounds like you’re angry that DMN didn’t cover your story. And no its not $100, its $300 to perform one song, in front of an audience that has zero interest or care about the artist on stage. You should go back and re-read the original article.

    • King

      Artists are supposed to be paid to perform. It’s not their job to pay for C2C’s expenses. If these are artists that never performed or had a stage to perform on, what makes you think they are ready to perform in front of industry pros?

      Stop making excuses for shitty people who want to take advantage of new talent.

  9. Rick Shaw

    They better stand in line when it comes to the DMN complaints department.

  10. Universal Indie Records

    They ripped off an artist that I’m currently working with. He was flying from the Cayman Islands where he lived to perform at this little spot in Vegas and they had cancelled a show one night and he just lost that flight money.

    • Paul Resnikoff

      You could pursue small claims litigation to recover the expense, or even seek class action if a larger number of artists were involved.

      Give me a shout if you want to discuss possible remedies: paul@

  11. Shlomo

    That’s an amateur response @gaetano. where do i sound angry? again DMN shouldn’t be covering your opinion. Perhaps you’re angry because you’re an indie artist who spends time blogging instead of performing. Makes perfect sense that I’m an employee but I don’t know the rates of the performance? You sound like a fool. Accuse me of being an employee while not knowing the performance rate. I thought your opinion article said some dude paid $150 or something like that.

    At the end of the day, I said C2C has no claim against your dumb ass or DMN. Would an employee say that? I always appreciate bad companies getting called out but do your full research. Have your ever owned a company? Operated a business? There are costs involved and C2C occasionally doesn’t make money on their performance events. Do your homework.

    • Remi Swierczek

      I’ll ALWAYS BE A FAN

    • Gaetano

      @Shlomo – DMN can choose to cover what it wants. They cover a mix of breaking news stories about the industry, and real life stories from people like me who speak on their experiences. Opinion pieces are a part of what PRESS COVERAGE is. Every large/small media site in the world does it. Get realistic. Guess what the goal of most sites are these days? To earn ad revenue based off site traffic. My stories are interesting enough to resonate with DMN’s target audience, and drive traffic. Your boring lawsuit story probably sucked, hence why they didn’t cover it.

      Secondly, why do you think they choose to cover my pieces? Because I don’t just go off on rants like you. If you payed attention to my original article, you can see that I had specific examples that backed up all of my claims. I even did investigative research by interviewing indie rappers who participated in C2C showcases. For some reason, you are choosing to miss the point (or you just aren’t smart enough to see it). You’re embarrassing yourself by defending an unethical company that sells empty dreams.

      After every point that I called out in the article, you’re defense is that they don’t always make money on every show? You’re clueless. On average, they are making $10,000 per show. They do 30 shows per month. Do the math. They’re booking events at banquet halls and dive bars. The overhead is a fraction of what they’re profiting. Get real.

      Thirdly, Yes I am an indie artist who writes blogs, so what? If you know so much about the industry, let’s see YOU write something thoughtful, intelligent, and impactful. I’m a content curator. I perform at CREDIBLE shows and events, like BET Music Matters. I perform at REPUTABLE venues like BB Kings, SOB’s, Apollo Theater. (Not these hole in the wall spots that C2C hosts for their shitty fake showcases). I have production and songwriting credits on major artist’s albums. I play 4 instruments at a professional level. I’m fluent in 3 languages. And finally, yes, I have operated business on my own. I’m an SEO / Digital Marketing consultant to medium, large, and fortune 500 brands. How’s that for “dumb ass” ?

      Stop hating, learn how to articulate yourself intelligently, and do your homework on someone before you go off calling them stupid. If my opinion pieces suck so much, why you reading and commenting? If you don’t like DMN covering my articles, go read something else, because I won’t stop writing for them anytime soon.

      • Epademik

        They do small venues because they operate mainly during the week to avoid bar crowds. Plus they’re the largest touring showcase in the world. Even Strange Music does small venues, so what’s your problem with small venues?

      • Epademik

        So, do you have problems with iStandards platform?

  12. Remi Swierczek

    I am fully in support of Coast 2 Coast, they are going to help the music industry make $100Billion$ PER YEAR! NOT EVEN DMN WANTS TO DO THAT!


  13. Epademik

    Coast 2 Coast will be fine , respectively a reputable company from first hand experience

  14. Anonymous

    All i know is that my friend paid to have the right to perform in a c2c concert and when we arrived there was no concert at all at the pub.they didn’t even have never heard about c2c concert happening here in sydney!!! Who the fuck are you guys!! Hopefully you’re not here you would have problems fucking americans!!!