I’m not a Kanye West fan, but here are seven tweets he put out there a week ago that would ruffle some feathers.
- The artist owns the copyright in the recordings and songs and leases them to the record label / publisher for a limited term. 1 year deals
This is the big one.
The record labels have a powerful seat at the negotiation table because they have the copyrights to valuable songs locked up for a very long time. Even investment companies are now buying out these valuable assets because they realised the return on investment on these popular songs is huge.
- The record label / publisher is a service provider that receives a share of the income for a limited term. The split can be 80/20 in the artists favour.
The record labels believed that it was all about them, and that in order to get a person to the top, it was the label that did all the hard work by outlaying money. And they got pretty pissed when they didn’t get the recognition.
Well, that’s not really true is it. The artist had to write the songs and people had to connect with the song for the artist to rise to the top. It didn’t really matter what the label did in relation to marketing. If people connected, then word of mouth would have been enough.
And in today’s reality, no established artist needs a label. They can write music and release to digital service providers immediately. The physical aspect might be a bit challenging, but if you have an established fanbase, well you don’t need a label in between. The artist should go direct to the fan.
- DEPENDANTS – Artists must be dependent on no one but themselves to manage their catalogue. You should need NO ONE else to understand the business you’re in.
Imagine being told that the songs you wrote in your bedroom or on the floor at the place you were staying while broke and almost homeless is now under the control of someone else, like an investment firm or a label. All because you signed a contract to record and release music and you never really knew what you signed.
- LAWYERS – the first thing that changes about Record Deals is actually lawyers. We need Plain English contracts. A Lawyers role is to IMPROVE deals…. not charge for contracts we cannot understand or track. Re-write deals to be understandable from FIRST READ.
I remember when the Breaking Benjamin contract was put out onto the internet about a decade ago. It had a lot of pages as to what the label owned the rights to and the powers the labels had.
Then there was ONE page on the money. It showed the advance payments for each album and when each album is expected to be delivered and the royalty split.
But the contract was only with Ben Burnley. And Breaking Benjamin is a band. So Burnley then needs to engage a lawyer to draw up a band agreement, so they have some payment system in place with the other members of the band. And those members would also need lawyers to read the band agreement and make sure they do not get ripped off.
- ADVANCES ARE JUST LOANS!! – On Artists re-signing, these stop. Advances are Loans with 75% interest rates (or worse). NO other business in the world takes a look at the business, buys shares, starts to profit, when it profits. Record Companies have to buy into you, not loan you.
Be careful about that advance payment. It might feel like you are rich, but that advance payment is just buying you out at the rate you are worth now. You might be worth a lot more later on, and there’s a high chance that you are still paying back the advance payment you got two decades ago.
- ROYALTIES – Again back to dependents. You need a business manager to read how you did? So you pay to see your money!!! NO MORE. Royalty portals need to show (and do not now) Every song you delivered, Every store you are in, How many streams per song, Income per song.
Umm, this is happening right now Kanye.
Artists can see what is happening with their songs, the streams and in which store. The only thing missing is the income per song because Streaming services don’t work that way.
- PORTALS – Are not just for royalties. They are for your entire business. Every audio file, every asset, every deal stored WITH the money. Money and Music must stay together. When your term ends, download it all. Leave. This is a call for all artist to unify … I will get my masters , I got the most powerful lawyer in music and I can afford them but every artist must be freed and treated fairly.
And who is in charge of this portal and in which country are the servers stored and how secure are the servers and what do artists need to pay to have access to this portal, because in tech, nothing is free.
It’s already old news because the PR machine behind the labels likes to kill news like this.