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Kanye West denies he’s selling his songs catalogue

By | Published on Wednesday 21 September 2022

Kanye West

Kanye West has denied that he is trying to sell his songs catalogue, initially suggesting that one of his business partners was probably courting buyers without his involvement, and then later concluding that all talk of a catalogue sale was “fake news”.

It was Billboard that reported that talks had been occurring regarding a possible sale of West’s songs catalogue, which is currently controlled by Sony Music Publishing.

Those reports said that West’s reps were pushing for a particularly high valuation of his repertoire, employing a higher metric than has been the norm when it comes to comparing current annual earnings and the requested upfront acquisition price. The option of involvement in West’s future output was seemingly being used to sweeten that deal.

But – according to Pitchfork – in a post on Instagram, West denied any knowledge of those talks. “Just like Taylor Swift”, he wrote, “my publishing is being put up for sale without my knowledge”.

Of course it was Swift’s recordings catalogue that was sold without her knowledge back in 2019, when Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings bought the label that had released all of her initial albums, Big Machine. The sale of song rights is generally more complicated because of contractual and ownership conventions in music publishing, and the whole writer’s share / publisher’s share thing.

Nevertheless, in his Instagram post, West was possibly suggesting that Sony – as his current publisher, who he sued back in 2019 – was trying to sell his catalogue without his involvement, maybe to cash in on the recent interest in song rights among investment types.

Though that seems unlikely. Not least because the more traditional publishers see the equity funds that have been busy buying up catalogues in recent years as unwelcome new competitors. And while they might partner with such funds to get involved in some song acquisitions themselves, it seems unlikely they’d want to sell off prestigious works to those companies.

Or maybe West was suggesting someone else involved in his music rights was behind the rumoured sales talks. Either way, West later returned to Instagram to report on a text exchange he’d had with his former manager Gee Roberson which seemed to say that no talks to sell the rapper’s songs catalogue ever occurred, and reports that they had were simply “fake news”. So there you go.

Presumably this means we can expect the press release announcing the record breaking sale of West’s songs catalogue next week?