For much of the summer, Kanye West‘s main goal seemed to be securing a position on this year’s presidential ballots. However, as the seasons changed, so has his main pursuit. Now, Kanye seeks to spark an enormous change in the music industry, having spent the last week calling for changes to be made to the recording contracts that labels give their musical acts. He arrived at this obsession after discovering issues with his own contract with Sony and Universal. In a new interview with Billboard, Kanye elaborated on his new pet cause.
When asked if Universal has reached out about his contract complaints, Kanye replied, “We are in discussions but I don’t want them to just fix my situation.” He added, “I want this to be about fixing everyone’s situation.” He also argues that due to new elements in the music industry, such as apps, DSPs, and more, the old construct of recording contracts is no longer:
The music business is new now. You sign to a major, you put your songs in a huge pot of titles they use to negotiate with. Their power now comes not only in selling but INVESTING our songs into Apps, DSP platforms and so on. We create their value in getting our songs to earn us sales, but also equity. Removing things like [label-wide licenses] is just me pointing out the old deals cannot just [change] by adding the word “streaming” in the sales section. The business changed. Our catalogs, combined with other catalogs, equals POWER. If we contribute to that power, we get paid […] You have to adapt. You can’t have old rules for new games. No other business in the world would suggest you don’t adapt to a completely new supply chain and income sources. And yet we are tied to a contract formula for vinyl.
While some commend Kanye on his new fight, many believe he’s only in it for himself and not the rest of the industry, a claim he denies. “I will help set precedents, I will help develop better royalty portals and deal shapes. I will design how this flows with them. It won’t just be an ecosystem & numbers,” he said. It should be noted that Kanye announced Wednesday that GOOD Music artists will receive the 50% share of their masters that he owned.
He went on to reveal his strategy towards creating an improved industry.
Free All Artists by any means necessary. I will work to rip apart the structure we are attached to that pays people for music. We cannot have designed streaming, but not designed a new method for payment and ownership around it where we all benefit […] The balance of power is too off, the gap between major label profit and artist profit too wide; and I will work to re-think the design of the entire way we move in this space. Streaming re-invented the wheel and we all stuck on the sidewalk wondering if we have cab fare. We have to get out the Matrix.