On Wednesday, the 43-year-old multihyphenate returned to Twitter to announce he’s giving back the artists his share of their masters. Kanye’s tweet suggested he only owns 50 percent of the recordings, and it’s unclear how the other half has been divided.
Kanye founded G.O.O.D. Music in 2014 and went on to sign big-name acts such as John Legend, Common, Kid Cudi, Consequence, and Mos Def—all of whom have since left the label. Today, the imprint is home to artists like Big Sean, label president Pusha-T, Teyana Taylor, Valee, Francis and the Lights, and more, which suggests Kanye is forfeiting millions of dollars by giving up control of the master recordings. It’s also unclear if his promise applies strictly to the G.O.O.D. Music roster or every past artist who had released music under the label.
The announcement comes amid Kanye’s highly publicized battle with Universal Music Group and Sony. Kanye has been very vocal about his attempts to gain full ownership of his masters, and taken legal action as part of his quest. Not only did he accuse UMG of refusing to sell him his masters back, he published over 100 pages from his record contracts to show how the industry tries “to bury us alive.”
Kanye has also offered a set of “new recording and publishing deal guidelines.” He proposes every artist own the copyright to their recordings and songs and can lease them “to the record label/publisher for a limited term.” He also states that labels and publishers are “service providers” who should only receive a share of the profits for a limited term.
“When you sign a music deal you sign away your rights,” he tweeted. “Without the masters you can’t do anything with your own music. Someone else controls where it’s played and when it’s played. Artists have nothing accept [sic] the fame, touring and merch.”