American rapper Kanye West has questioned a ‘Billboard’ report that his ‘camp’ has been quietly shopping his song catalogue.
He wrote in the story section of his Instagram on Tuesday: “Just like Taylor Swift… my publishing is being put up for my sale without my knowledge,” reports Variety.
Billboard reported that members of the rapper’s team “have met selectively with prospective buyers to explore what kind of valuation his song catalogue could fetch,” estimating that they are seeking $175 million.
In another Instagram Story, West posted a screenshot of a text message with an unnamed person, with West asking, “Can you ask Gee who is selling my publishing,” likely referring to his manager Gee Roberson.
As is often the case with West, there’s a lot to unpack in the situation. First, it is difficult to imagine anyone in his camp shopping the rights to his music without his knowledge, although with the frequent and rapid turnover of his management staff and his multiple ongoing projects, there is certainly potential for miscommunication.
According to Variety, as the value of publishing and recorded-music catalogues has soared in recent years, virtually every major artist has explored such sales. So, it’s not surprising that representatives for West would test the waters, especially as rising interest rates and fears of inflation have cooled off the market in recent months.
Second, although West compares himself to Swift, the situations are drastically different, even if someone were shopping his publishing without his knowledge. Variety further states that Swift’s publishing catalogue was never for sale; instead, a consortium led by Justin Bieber/Ariana Grande manager Scooter Braun paid a reported $300 million for the rights to the masters owned by her former label Big Machine, which included her first six albums (Braun managed West for a couple of different stints in 2016-2018).
While Swift has said that she was initially unaware of a potential Big Machine sale and much about that situation remains unclear, she attempted to buy her masters from the label before the Braun-led deal closed, but found the terms unacceptable.
West has made noise about acquiring the rights to his publishing and recorded-music at least twice in the past, even going so far as to post excerpts from his contracts on social media in 2018.
In September of 2020 he wrote on Twitter: “I’m not putting no more music out till I’m done with my contract[s]” and in a different post included a screenshot of a text from an unnamed adviser apparently claiming that his masters are worth more than Swift’s.