About Our Host
Casey Handy-Smith is a contract law attorney who helps influencers and creative entrepreneurs who struggle with navigating the legal side of their online businesses and brands. Over the past 6 years, Casey has helped creatives negotiate fair deals while protecting and leveraging their creative assets with ironclad contracts. Beyond her work with 1-on-1 with clients, Casey also provides DIY contract templates for entrepreneurs needing instant clarity and confidence to legally protect their businesses.
3 Key Takeaways
- Leverage is real and knowing how to position yourself to negotiate is important! Make sure that you come to the table knowing what you have to offer and already thinking about the terms that will protect you in the future.
- Know your rights (specifically your intellectual property rights)! Is this my mantra? I think this is now my mantra.
- We are not all the same. This is more apparent now than ever, in America. The deal Kanye wants artists to have actually already exists (à la Taylor Swift). Kanye’s new mission isn’t all about Kanye, you know. On Sunday (September 20th), West tweeted: “This is a call for all artist[s] to unify … I will get my masters, I got the most powerful lawyer in music and I can afford them but every artist must be freed and treated fairly.” In addition, West tweeted new “guidelines” for recording and publishing contract templates he wants to see adopted industrywide.
[6:00] – Background of the Situation:
- In his latest string of tweets about his recording deals Wednesday, Kanye West said he was going to upload his Universal Records contracts, while once again referring to the music industry as “modern-day slavery.”
- “Here are my ten Universal contracts … I need every lawyer in the world to look at these,” he shared before telling followers that the PDFs would not load on Twitter. Twenty minutes later, he shared screengrabs of 10 documents that included what appeared to be several amendments, a profit sharing agreement, and a recording agreement. He tweeted of the images: “This is what me Kanye West deal looks like today … I PRAY IN THE NAME OF JESUS THAT IT DONT LOOK LIKE THIS TOMORROW.”
- West had spent much of Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning posting a series of more than two dozen tweets, some featuring favorite Bible verses, others pointed missives at the music industry demanding that what he claimed were overly complicated contracts be “simplified now.”
[Sidenote – 8:08] – Keep your ears to the ground:
- Understanding the types of deals and contracts that your peers are getting helps in your negotiations. So, networking and talking to others in your industry will help you get the best deals possible.
[10:58] – Master Recordings:
- When an artist refers to their “master recordings,” they are referring to the original recordings of their music (as opposed to the composition itself). The owner of these master rights, along with the copyright owner, controls where the recording itself is licensed and earns money from it.
- Labels often secure an artist’s master rights in exchange for promotion and support during the recording process. These deals allow the label to release an artist’s music and earn money through its distribution and licensing. They customarily arrange deals in which an artist receives royalties once they recoup the advance given by the label to record their music.
- Writers generally maintain the copyright to their music, which affords them certain rights with how it is used. They often work in tandem with the label when the music is licensed elsewhere.
[16:56] – Interesting points in this situation:
- West sued Roc-A-Fella last year, as well as Universal and his publishing company, EMI. In the EMI suit, which has since been settled, he appeared as a plaintiff alongside a newly formed company, “Please Gimme My Publishing Inc.” Kanye is now waging the same battle against Universal for his recorded copyrights, a.k.a. his masters.
- Kanye’s Twitter ultimatum may not elicit widespread sympathy from the artist community: For one thing, the contracts posted by West revealed Universal paid him an $8 million advance for his sixth studio album, Yeezus (2013), not including an additional $4 million with which to clear samples and make the record. Universal also paid him a $3 million advance, plus a $3 million recording/clearance budget, for The Life of Pablo (2016). Your common or garden-variety megastar just doesn’t get handed this kind of money from their record label. But there are also reasons for Kanye to be optimistic about at least some of his stated objectives regarding the reclamation of his masters. Here are three of them, connected to a trio of fellow superstars.
[20:48] – Key Takeaways:
- Leverage is real and knowing how to position yourself to negotiate is important!
- Know your rights (specifically your intellectual property rights)! This is now my motto.
- The deal Kanye wants artists to have actually already exists (à la Taylor Swift). Kanye’s new mission isn’t all about Kanye. West tweeted new “guidelines” for recording and publishing contract templates he wants to see adopted industrywide.
Resources Mentioned During The Episode