Which musical artists really own their masters?

November 22, 2019 | 4:13 p.m.

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Taylor Swift is in all-out war with mega manager Scooter Braun after his company bought his old label and, in turn, the rights to the main recordings of much of his old music. But having these rights in the music industry is rarer than you might think. Swift has all its masters after 2018, which already puts it ahead of many artists signed with major labels.

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One of the first changes Jay-Z made when he became president of Def Jam was to change the ownership of his masters.

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Rihanna has proven to be a businesswoman over the past few years, so it’s no surprise that she took control of her masters in 2016. In an interview with Vogue, it was revealed that after fulfilling her contract with Def Jam, she created her own imprint. named Westbury Road Entertainment on Universal’s Roc Nation label. She obtained in passing all the masters of her old albums. Perhaps his close ties to Jay-Z, who served as CEO of Def Jam from 2005 to 2007, helped the deal.

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In a 2017 Tumblr post, Frank Ocean wrote: “I redeemed all of my masters last year at the height of my career.”

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Iggy Azalea doesn’t have the rights to all of her old music, including her # 1 hit “Fancy”, but she doesn’t make the same mistake twice. “I’m so happy to own my master for this new album (In My Defense).

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U2 has not done a show of ownership of their masters, and details are unknown, but their former manager has revealed that they actually own 100% of their masters and copyright.

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Ciara also started her own record and entertainment company called Beauty Marks Entertainment in 2017. Any music she has released since then is her own, masters included. “Being able to own my masters has been really cool,” she revealed at the Makers Conference. “When I see opportunities arise, I say to myself, ‘Yes, I do.’ Having this freedom and flexibility has been amazing. ”

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Metallica gained control of their masters through an agreement signed in 1994 stating that they would take control of their masters from Warner Music in 2012. “It’s always been about control for us as a band,” he said. said their drummer Lars Ulrich. “Former Blackened Recordings is the pinnacle of independence, giving us 100% control and putting us in control of our own creative destiny. ”

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Kei Henderson, who manages 21 Savage, revealed in a tweet that the rapper has his masters.

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Chance the Rapper was offered a recording deal with Kanye West’s Good Music label in 2016, but declined, choosing to remain independent. It paid off. “I’m independent because I own all of my recording and publishing and distribution rights, everything,” he said during a podcast in 2018.

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LL Cool J was clear when he tweeted “FYI. I own my music masters. Past, present and future.” He added: “Ps. I have had them for over 20 years …”

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Stevie Wonder took control of all of his pending Masters after a deal he signed with Motown Records in 1971.

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William N. Fernandez