Kanye West “won’t stop” until he gets what he wants.
He has declared himself the “new Moses,” after announcing that we will not hear any new music from him until he owns his own masters and is released from his contract with Universal and ATV/Sony.
But West should stop and think about how to proceed, instead of causing drama on Twitter by posting his recording contract, and other things like a video of what looks like him urinating on his Grammys. He could win his battle if he just looked at cases from his peers, like Prince.
West just posted more than a hundred pages of his ten recording contracts, but who would expect anything less of the artist? Here is one of the pages:
He followed the tons of pages up with tweets like,
Who made up the term major label in the first place???
He wants the rights to his music so his children will be able to benefit from the royalties after he’s gone:
Instead of sharing his contracts and tweeting,
I need every lawyer in the world to look at these
I wonder if Universal gonna call me … I promise I have more ideas … I will not stop I PROMISE YOU ON GOD,”
West should be more strategic.
He should probably look at what Prince did to secure his own masters. Kanye doesn’t have to stop making music, either.
Prince was a pioneer in releasing his music straight to his fans without the help of a major label, and other artists like Radiohead have done the same.
Prince, too had some interesting ways of showing he wasn’t happy with his label. He appeared in public with the words ‘slave’ painted on his cheek, and in 1993, he changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol called the ‘love symbol’ in the hopes that if he was technically no longer called Prince, he was therefore not bound by his contracts anymore .
One former Warner Bros. executive said this on the matter:
It felt like getting punched in the solar plexus. Especially all the racial connotations… That just wasn’t who we were.
In 1996, he was released from Warner Bros. but was continually changing labels. But he owned the masters to the new albums he was making. He essentially started to “crowdfund” his next albums by selling them directly to fans via phone or internet preorders and started the NPG Music Club in 2001.
You can watch what Prince himself had to say on record labels below:
In 2014, two years before his death, Prince got his masters back from the label with the caveat that he would release two more albums with them. The case looked through the Copyright Revision Act of 1976 , and some experts thought that it could be won with a:
negotiation of the ownership reversions and retain control of issuing artists’ catalog eligible for copyright terminations.
Prince chose to stay with Warner Bros. until he died but since he got what he wanted and his catalog was returned to him as the copyrights ran out, they worked together harmoniously.
Kanye might not want to paint ‘slave’ on his cheek or change his name to an unpronounceable symbol, but he can still release music the way he wants and attain ownership of that new music while he takes his case to the courts. West will have many people on his side, and he has the money to do it. His wife is training to be a lawyer after all.