Kanye West, who is demanding to be released from his recording and publishing deals, has uploaded photos of his contracts to Twitter.
“I need every lawyer in the world to look at these,” he told his followers, while referring to the music industry as “modern-day slavery”.
Taking aim at the wider music industry, he later posted a video of someone urinating on a Grammy award.
West says he won’t release new music until he is released from his deals.
The cache of documents he posted on Wednesday night included details of advance payments for his albums, royalty rates, a profit sharing agreement, and several amendments.
Some are only partially complete, and their validity has not been corroborated – but they appear to show that West was given a $12m (£9.2m) advance for his sixth album, Yeezus, and receives royalties of between 14% and 25% on his sales and streams.
According to music industry lawyer Aurelia Butler-Ball, such multi-million-dollar advance payments are “rare in today’s industry, because the money just isn’t there”. However, West’s royalty rates are typical of the deals she sees for her clients.
“If the label is going to take the risk and give that upfront investment, then they want the majority of the income when the record is sold,” she told the BBC.
“A very high-profile, well-established artist can sometimes negotiate slightly higher royalty rates, but that’s really just the industry standard.”
Butler-Ball, who is a senior associate at Irwin Mitchell, said it was “difficult to pinpoint” West’s aim in revealing his densely-worded contracts, but it appeared that his relationship with the label was irreparably damaged.
“Ultimately, the success of a record deal isn’t necessarily how good the contract is. It’s about the strong relationship between the artist and the [people] at the record label.
“And once that relationship has broken down, which it looks like here, it’s very hard to have success with each other, and make good music together, no matter what the contract says.”
Universal have yet to respond to West’s statements.
‘I’m fighting for us’
The dispute comes a year and a half after the rapper sued EMI Publishing, seeking to terminate what he called a “lopsided and oppressive” contract that prohibited him from retiring.
EMI counter-sued West for damages in March 2019, after what it called “West’s efforts to renege on his bargained-for contractual obligations to the company.”
They reached an undisclosed settlement last September, in which it is likely that West renegotiated his terms and royalty rates.
On Monday, the star took a break from his faltering Presidential campaign to post a string of statements about his music career.
He began by announcing he was “not putting no more music out til I’m done with my contract with Sony and Universal”.
West continued by demanding apologies “immediately” from fellow musicians J Cole and Drake, adding: “I’m fighting for us” and “I’m not gonna watch my people be enslaved”.
The implication seemed to be that he wanted to form an alliance of artists who could combat unfair recording contracts. He later implored Bono, Kendrick Lamar “and even Taylor” Swift to join the cause, adding: “All the musicians will be free”.
At the centre of his dispute appears to be an attempt to buy back the master tapes for his recordings.
“When you sign a music deal you sign away your rights,” he posted. “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 the fame, touring and merch[andise]”.
“In COVID artist need our masters… it’s more important than ever before”.
On Tuesday, West claimed that Universal Music “won’t tell me what my masters cost because they know I can afford to buy them”.
He also tweeted texts from an unnamed adviser, who presented options for getting out of his contracts, and estimated the cost of his masters at more than $300m (£232m).
The 43-year-old later called out several senior executives at Universal by name.
Writing in capitals, he added: “Please understand that I will do everything in my legal power and use my voice until all artist contracts are changed. I will not stop. I promise you I am petty and very personal”.
West also highlighted that record contracts often contain “hidden costs” – which force an artist to pay for the distribution of their CDs, amongst other things.
Butler-Ball said that forcing labels to be more upfront about these fees “could only be a good thing”.
“If he forces the hand for more transparency, in terms of where those costs are going, the days of artists having to cover the cost of printing 10,000 vinyl are over,” she said.
‘Vile and disrespectful’
West’s Twitter account was later suspended after he posted the private phone number of Forbes’ chief content officer Randall Lane, writing, “If anyone wants to call a white supremacist … this is the editor of Forbes.”
Twitter was said to have frozen the account until he removed the post and agreed not to commit further violations of privacy.
The video of his Grammy award, lodged in a toilet and apparently being urinated upon, remains on the site.
It was criticised by hit songwriter Diane Warren, who called it “vile and disrespectful”.
“This was given to you by your peers out of respect for your work and you are literally pissing on them,” she wrote. “I’ve won one Grammy and I’m forever grateful and humble that my peers found me worthy of it.”
Billie Eilish’s brother, Finneas O’Connell, simply responded: “This is so sad, man”.
Pelosi: Covid relief deal could still happen before Election Day
On Friday, Pelosi told CNN she sent Mnuchin a list of concerns “that we still had about ‘what is the answer?'”
“My understanding is he will be reviewing that over the weekend, and we will have some answers on Monday,” she said Sunday.
Pelosi said she’ll not hold out to see whether Democrats win the White House and the Senate and keep the House after in the Nov. 3 elections to pursue a bill more to Democrats’ liking. Instead, she said she’ll continue working to get a relief bill passed “as soon as possible.”
The speaker went on to say that a relief bill could be passed as soon as this week in the House, but that it’s up to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell whether it would go to the Senate floor.
McConnell has largely steered clear of stimulus talks recently and many GOP senators are opposed to the $2 trillion deal being discussed by Pelosi and Mnuchin. On Tuesday, McConnell softened his stance a bit, saying he would allow the Senate to vote on a Pelosi-Mnuchin agreement — assuming that first Trump agrees to sign it.
Earlier Sunday on CNN, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said, “We’ve identified those Senate Republicans most likely to vote” for the relief deal to pass. But he said Republicans will not blindly pass the bill without first reading its terms fully.
“We are not Nancy Pelosi. We are not going to vote or opine on a bill and pass it before we have read it,” he said.
one man’s reflections on what has gone wrong with ‘the family’
4 min read
At times searing in his criticism of those he holds responsible for trashing the prospects of the Labour party, Gisela Stuart finds Matt Forde’s new book both entertaining and insightful
Matt Forde’s “Politically Homeless” is like an episode from the Archers’ in the early months of the lockdown. One man’s reflections on what has gone wrong with “the family”. To be fair to Forde, unlike the Archers, he does make you laugh.
We often think of political parties as families, and there is a reason for that. We like some members more than others, every so often we have a big row, but eventually we find a way of rubbing along. And we have secrets; things which we either all know to be true, but we would rather not talk about or which we hope will go away if we ignore them long enough. Even when things get really bad, we rarely pack our bags and, move in with the family on the other side of the road.
Matt Forde is as entertaining as he is insightful and like many of us, he wants to get back to the days when Labour was in government, invested in Sure Start centres, schools and hospitals, introduced a national minimum wage and ended boom and bust.
Every MP or party activist who has ever screamed and shouted at Regional Office for not doing this, that or the other, would benefit from Forde’s take on what it is like to be a regional organiser. The joys and tribulations of by-elections, ministerial visits, and photo calls. Needs must, and if that means dressing up as a chicken and stalking Charles Kennedy, then so be it. He is generous in naming some MPs he’s worked with who genuinely cared about their constituents and even occasionally said “Thank you”. He thought the late Tessa Jowell “made you behave better by her just being there” and he is right.
Every MP or party activist who has ever screamed and shouted at Regional Office for not doing this, that or the other, would benefit from Forde’s take on what it is like to be a regional organiser
But he is searing in his criticism of the string of events which started with Ed Miliband trashing the achievements of the Blair/Brown governments and culminated with the party electing Jeremy Corbyn as its leader. He barely hides his contempt for the MPs who put a Marxist on the ballot paper. He wonders if those who did so to “broaden the debate” were gutted because they couldn’t find a fascist.
Anyone who is still in doubt about the mountain Labour has to climb only needs to read his chapter on Stoke on Trent. A collection of six towns, represented by three Labour MPs, where the local council was so divided that a grand coalition of Britain’s three biggest political parties could only muster a majority of one against a collection of BNP and independent councillors who were either hard-left ex-Labour or had never been part of any political party.
Corbyn’s Labour Party hoped that by ignoring the stain of antisemitism, which became attached to the party as a whole, it would just somehow go away, which of course it didn’t. But there is an even bigger secret much of today’s Labour Party tries to not talk about. It is the simple fact that the whole point of a political party is to win elections. If you are not in power then you can’t make the changes necessary to help the people you claim to care about.
Jacqui Smith, when she was chief whip, used to remind MPs that the “worst day in government was better than the best day in opposition”. Entertaining as opposition might be, it can’t be your purpose.
It’s unlikely that we’ll be able to have a good heart-to-heart with our friends about the state of the party, drown our sorrows with a glass of wine and have a good laugh, but we can give each other Forde’s book as a Christmas present.
Baroness Stuart of Edgbaston is a Non-Affiliated peer and was Labour MP for Birmingham Edgbaston 1997-2017
Politically Homeless by Matt Forde is published by Quercus
Nasa moon announcement: What is on the Moon?
The US space agency, Nasa, has revealed conclusive evidence of water on the Moon.
Unlike previous detections of water in permanently shadowed parts of lunar craters, scientists have now detected the molecule in sunlit regions of the Moon’s surface.
Nasa has said it will send the first woman and next man to the lunar surface in 2024.
But what does this new discovery mean for this mission and future missions to the Moon?
What else is on the surface of the Moon?
BBC Science Correspondent Laura Foster explains.
Video by Laura Foster, Terry Saunders and Mattea Bubalo.
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