Now, it should come as no surprise to any of us to hear that every so often a musician gets himself/herself in trouble with the law. It happens, and usually the legal system handles it. We may complain sometimes that the legal system is a little lax with celebrities, but we certainly don't expect anyone outside of the legal system to manage artist behavior.
According to attorney Lauren Raysor, maybe we should. Raysor, who represented the victim in the Remy Ma shooting case two years ago, made a plea yesterday for record labels to add a morality clause to their contracts. Raysor's main concern seems to hip hop contracts, and she justified her claims by presenting a timeline of violence in the hip hop industry.
Leaving aside the ludacris notion that criminal behavior is genre specific, I think Raysor is way off base. Criminal behavior is criminal behavior. We have systems in place for dealing with criminal behavior, and labels already have ways of distancing themselves from artists who become a PR nightmare. There's no practical reason to add a morality clause to a music contract. Raysor must be pretty unfamiliar with the music industry if she thinks labels should be meddling even more in artists' lives than they already do.
Further, the wording of the clause suggested by Raysor is hopelessly vague and open to a million different interpretations. Check it out (quote taken from XXL):
The artist agrees to conduct himself or herself with due regard to public conventions and morals, and agrees that he or she will not commit any act of contempt, scorn or ridicule that will tend to shock, insult or offend the community, or ridicule public morality or decency, or prejudice the company, producer, and others in the public or in the industry in general.
Who gets to decide what "public conventions and morals" are? Who decides what is shocking? How about what is insulting or offensive? Me? You? Lauren Raysor? Some label boss looking for an excuse to dump an artist from a contract? Puh-leeze. Raysor is a lawyer. Surely she wouldn't advise a client to sign a contract that has wording so vague and open to interpretention...would she?
What do you think? Should labels be involved in creating a code of conduct for musicians?