Kanye West is refuting a report from Billboard that says that he “has been quietly and intermittently shopping his publishing catalog.” In a since-deleted Instagram Story, per Pitchfork, the rapper wrote: “Just like Taylor Swift, my publishing is being put up for sale without my knowledge. Not for sale.”
In its report, Billboard cited sources who said, “Over the past 10 months, representatives for West have met selectively with prospective buyers to explore what kind of valuation his song catalog could fetch.” The publication estimated that the songs in the Kanye West catalog “could generate upward of $13.25 million annually in publishing royalties.” The publication “estimates that West has a 35% share of the songwriting on his first four albums, while on the later albums, it appears he has a 20% share of the writing. Sources say West’s share comes to $5 million annually.”RELATED: Why Artists Sell Their Publishing Rights and Why They Get So Much Money For It
As with lots of West’s recent disputes with big companies, it’s a bit confusing. His situation is different than Swift’s: her publishing was never up for sale, but her master recordings were. Swift signed with Big Machine Label Group at the beginning of her career. Scooter Braun’s company Ithaca Holdings LLC bought the Nashville-based independent record label Big Machine, founded by Scott Borchetta in 2005. Ithaca then became owners of the masters of Swift’s first six studio albums. They later sold the rights to a private equity company called Shamrock Holdings. Swift has since started to re-record her albums starting with Fearless and Red which were previously released 2008 and 2012, respectively.
West’s publishing is currently administered by Sony Music Publishing, according to Billboard. They have not publicly stated if they are looking to sell Ye’s music catalog. Ye later posted a screenshot of a text exchange to Instagram stories. He’s texting someone asking, “Can you ask Gee who is selling my publishing.” The response: “From Gee: Fake news. Of course every publisher wants to pitch there [sic] hardest to buy. Smh.” We don’t know who Gee is, but it could be his former manager Gee Roberson.
Back in 2018, West posted parts of his original recording contract to social media. Variety reports that, according to those excerpts, he is still legally bound by those contracts. However, they “had been renegotiated more than once at terms very favorable to him, by current standards. It also has become clear that West apparently already owns the rights to many of his recordings: The copyright on all of his albums from 2016’s Life of Pablo album onward is credited to his company Getting Out Our Dreams II, LLC (a variation on the name of his earlier label, Getting Out Our Dreams, often abbreviated to G.O.O.D.) and licensed to his longtime label Def Jam, while the rights to his previous recordings are credited only to Def Jam.”