In the music industry, ownership and credit have always been a point of contention. And Detroit’s own Royce da 5’9 has just got full ownership of the original recordings of his work. It’s a big win in an industry flush with copyright disputes. With this newfound creative freedom over his work, Royce released a compilation named “The Heaven Experience, Vol. 1” that includes five new tracks from the artist and 10 of his most popular tracks that featured Pusha T and Rick Ross.
While an artist typically gets credited for their songs and earns royalties from them, it is customary for record labels to actually own the songs themselves including their original recordings, also called “masters” or “master recordings”. This means that labels can use it, reuse it and remix it or parts of the song without ever needing to pay the original artist who created them. This also means that the musician who created the song needs to seek their label’s permission to even reuse or remix their own work.
“The biggest thing for us was taking ownership of the masters and getting them back up on streaming platforms,” Royce told The Root. “The greatest part of owning your masters is being able to have whatever conversation I want about it. Only the owner can have the conversation about what we’re doing with it. Who’s pressing play and who’s pressing stop? Who’s buying and who’s selling?” Royce’s win is part of the saga of musicians working — while sometimes feuding with their labels — on getting the royalties due to them and the creative freedom to build on their previous work outside of their music labels. Prince famously rerecorded 17 of his albums when his negotiations with Warner Bros failed. More recently, Rihanna took control of her music’s masters back in 2016, and Jay-Z did the same when he came the president of the label Def Jam back in 2004.