It was recently announced that in Chris Brown’s renewed deal with RCA, he was given the exclusive ownership of his masters, making him one of the few artistes to successfully negotiate this. The ownership of master rights in the music industry is one of the seriously negotiated terms in a record deal and a hot topic among artists, record labels, managers and management companies.
Masters (also master recording or sound recording) refers to the actual physical recording of an artiste’s interpretation/ performance of the underlying composition. Traditionally, when an artist signs a record deal, they assign the copyright of their masters to the label, meaning that they no longer own them and only have a right to a percentage of the royalties earned from them. This needs to change and is beginning to, as several artistes, such as SZA, 21 Savage are beginning to demand more control of their masters.
Owning your masters as an artiste gives you the ability to control the exploitation of your music. Whoever owns the master rights has the right to choose who can license those rights and/or who can re-record/ remaster the music. For example, television placements, sampling, distribution and so on of your music will be within your control- at your instance and on your terms.
We hope that our Nigerian artistes will begin to take the intellectual property in their music more seriously by negotiating for more control and ownership of their master rights with labels. With the power of social media, the negotiation has been made easier as these platforms allow artistes to create and promote their brands thereby building their audience bases. With a large and loyal fanbase, an artiste can come to the negotiation table with bigger bargaining power and can negotiate more control of his/ her master rights!
The contents of this news alert are meant for the general information of our clients and friends and do not amount to legal advice. All enquiries on the subject may be made to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Adepetun Caxton-Martins Agbor & Segun
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