Masters ownership is a hot topic right now in the world of music. Many of our favorite stars have been opening up about bad deals and the fight to insure they own their work. Ashanti has been a trailblazer in the realm of independent artists and ownership for years now. Despite making loads of money as a songwriter for both herself and others, she is looking to really cash in on her back catalog now that she owns her master.
Pop Country star Taylor Swift just scored a major win in the world of re-recorded albums. Swift’s catalog was purchased without her consent by Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande’s manager Scooter Braun awhile back. She very publicly called him out but was not able to retain ownership of her songs. As a way around it, she opted to re-record the bulk of her back catalog. A re-recorded version of Taylor’s album Red is crushing it on the charts for her, forcing labels to reconsider ownership clauses in their contracts. Swift is on track to best sales of the original project released in 2012. Even better, all the money made from this new version goes straight to her.
Red broke two Spotify records in one day, including most streams for a female artist in a single day. According to Yahoo! Music “[Taylor’s] music totaled over 122.9 million streams on Friday, approximately three-quarters of which came from “Red (Taylor’s Version).”
R&B singer JoJo used a similar method in 2018 to make money back that she’d lost over the years due to her first two albums being unavailable on streaming. JoJo’s self-titled debut and follow-up High Road were nowhere to be found on streaming platforms due to Blackground Records keeping their entire catalog off Spotify and Apple. While they did eventually release JoJo’s projects this past summer, she was able to reap the benefits of pocketing the money earned from all streams on the re-recorded versions.
Ashanti’s situation is a little different. While there is no legal loop hole she’s looking to exploit with re-recordings, and she makes a good amount of money as the primary songwriter on many of those records, for her its about quality. While speaking with Angie Martinez, she said the re-recording is more of a way to celebrate the 20th anniversary of her debut while giving fans a new and fresh way to listen to the songs. She also plans to include some guest verses and possibly tour.
Former collaborator and label head Irv Gotti is not too happy about this. In a lengthy response to Ashanti’s Angie Martinez interview, he spoke his peace. He acknowledges that Ashanti is fully within her rights to redo her songs under the Cover Laws. However, as part owner of the original masters, this means he will make no money off these new versions. He says its messed up that she will be making fans choose between the original and updated version and thinks that what they made back in 2002 was “magic” and cannot be duplicated.
According to Ashanti, the re-recorded album is expected to be release around April 2022. For those of you who are Ashanti day one fans, you may recall her debut album dropped April 2, 2002, which was 20 years ago to that date. Around that time, Ashanti is also slated to receive her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. During the interview, Ashanti and Angie spoke about the importance of the album dropping around the time she receives her star. The singer stated people will want to hear her music after she receives her star and will have an opportunity to hear the latest updated version when searching on streaming services.