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Former ‘New York Times’ Journalist Ian Urbina Apologizes After Multiple Artists Accused Him Of Exploiting Them

Former New York Times journalist Ian Urbina is apologizing after multiple artists voiced their displeasure with him after they contributed music to a project tied to a book he released in 2019. The book, The Outlaw Ocean: Journeys Across The Last Untamed Frontier, was released in August 2019, and with it came a soundtrack that featured music from a number of artists. As a part of their deal, Urbina would receive 50% of the profit that was made from the participating songs in exchange for helping to promote the artists with help from platforms like Spotify, Netflix, and more.

However, multiple artists said Urbina failed to hold up his end of the deal, leaving one person to call it a “scam.” “It was all 100 percent about his book and even that, not many people seemed to care,” another said. “I’ve worked in music long enough that I know that sh*t happens and I just moved on, but the whole thing left a bad taste in my mouth.”

Now Urbina has apologized via a statement on the Outlaw Ocean Music Project website. “[If] you convince artists to invest their time, brand, effort, audience, trust and creativity into your project, it’s important to communicate with them fully, ensure they get royalty statements and paid on time, answer their questions quickly,” the statement read. “I failed to do these things. The label I created to run the project and the subcontractor I hired to do these things also failed.

“The aim has been to convert stories into a different language, namely music, as a creative means to grab the attention of a younger and more diverse audience — the very audience sometimes missed by legacy outlets,” Urbina continued. “I thought, and still do, this was a new way to circulate journalism via non-news platforms. Any money that came in went toward publishing new albums and recruiting more artists.”

Danielle Rhoades Ha, a spokesperson for NYT, says the publication is aware of the accusations against Jordan. “The allegations are troubling,” she says. “We are currently looking into the matter.” It should also be noted that Urbina departed the publication on May 30, 2019.