A busy day for Universal Music’s legal department yesterday, as Kanye West tweeted a bunch of his contracts with the major label, page by page, as part of a sudden campaign seemingly hoping to buy back his masters.
And it really was page by page, after an initial, unfortunate attempt to post PDFs (not a feature that Twitter supports).
“In the streaming world master ownership is everything… that is the bulk of the income … in COVID artist need our masters … it’s more important than ever before,” was one of his early salvos, before a period of all-caps blasts (“UNIVERSAL WONT TELL ME WHAT MY MASTERS COST BECAUSE THEY KNOW I CAN AFFORD TO BUY THEM” and “MY CHILDREN WILL OWN MY MASTERS … NOT YOUR CHILDREN … MY CHILDREN … MY CHILDREN … MY CHILDREN”), then the contracts with an exhortation for “every lawyer in the world to look at these”.
Which, indeed, they are.
Some thoughts: Artist ownership of their masters is an important topic in 2020; sharing contracts with the world is an… unusual negotiating tactic; and these contracts may not be the smoking gun of Big Evil Label that West thinks – early interest seems to be focusing on the size of the advance for 2013 album ‘Yeezus’ instead.
But they’re quite the conversation starter.