October 1, 2020

Kanye West Says He Won’t Release Music Until He’s Freed From Contracts, Claims His Masters Worth More Than Taylor Swift’s

Topline

After deleting a tweet Monday declaring that he would not release new music until he is released from his contracts with Sony/ATV Music Publishing and Universal, Kanye West on Tuesday shared a screenshot of what appeared to be a text message conversation with an unnamed advisor who proposed potential game plans and claimed West’s masters are worth more than Taylor Swift’s. 

Key Facts

West, who has been open about his diagnosis as bipolar, tweeted he’s “not putting no more music out till I’m done with my contract with Sony and Universal.

“West demanded to see “everybody’s contracts” at Sony and Universal and said he would not “watch my people be enslaved” and would put his “life on the line” for them, comparing the music industry and the NBA to “modern day slave ships” and himself to Moses. 

West tweeted Tuesday that he had not heard from Universal or Sony and that it was “go time,” including the apparent conversation with his advisor who shared three possible strategies. 

West’s advisor claimed they could argue that Universal and Sony breached their contract by not supporting West “fully,” noting “this is the lawsuit/termination nuclear option” and would mean they would litigate and ask for his masters as part of a settlement agreement. 

West, who Forbes this year estimated had become a billionaire, could buy his masters or re-record them, “but if Taylor’s cost $300 million yours would cost a lot more I assume,” the advisor said referring to Scooter Braun’s 2019 acquisition of the label Big Machine Records from Scott Borchetta.

West could also propose a Yeezy Media and Universal joint venture that is “equal and not one sided,” but West replied he is “not open to any form of business with Universal or Sony.”

Key Background

Braun’s Ithaca Holdings last year bought Big Machine Records, which had owned the rights to the master recordings of Swift’s first six albums, reportedly for $300 million. 

Tangent

Swift, who signed with Big Machine Records in 2005 when she was 15 years old, said she learned about the label’s sale when everyone else did. In a Tumblr post, she said she had “pleaded” for a chance to own her work for years and knew it was likely that Borchetta would sell the label. She said she felt betrayed that he sold it to Braun, who she said bullied her for years, sometimes alongside West. She often alludes to it in her new album Folklore.  

Big Number

$1.3 billion. That’s West’s net worth, according to Forbes. West owns 100% of his fashion brand Yeezy which pulled in an estimated $1.3 billion in sales in 2019.

What To Watch For

Watch to see if West moves forward with any of the deals reportedly proposed by his advisor or if he is busy focusing on his presidential campaign. West had previously tweeted that he would release a new album Donda in July.

Further Reading

Kanye West Declares Himself ‘New Moses,’ Says He Won’t Release New Music Till Freed From Universal and Sony/ATV Deals (Billboard)      

Scooter Braun Makes $300 Million Deal for Big Machine Records (Wall Street Journal)

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