Birdman Says He Owns 100% of His Masters and Publishing — ‘I Got Nothing But Love and Respect for Universal’

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Photo Credit: Steve-O’s Wild Ride!

In a recent interview on Steve-O’s ‘Wild Ride!’ podcast, Birdman says his relationship with Universal Music enabled him to retain 100% ownership of his masters and publishing.

In a climate where many artists have been quick to criticize their labels, rapper Birdman recently explained his relationship with Universal Music Group (UMG) has actually enabled him to accrue his wealth while still owning 100% of his masters and publishing.

The conversation, which took place on “Jackass” star Steve-O’s “Wild Ride!” podcast, kicked off with Steve-O congratulating Birdman on Cash Money Records having sold over one billion albums, for which he received a plaque to commemorate the achievement in 2017.

Birdman admitted that, like many musicians, he knew very little about the business side of the music industry when he first hit the scene in 1991 — but that didn’t prevent him from retaining ownership of his own music and publishing.

“I did own everything,” he told Steve-O. “I never allowed none of the labels to own anything. Universal never owned nothing. So when I figured out and found out, I went and established what was missing and what was lost because we always owned everything. Still today, I own 100% of my company. I own 100% of my masters.”

That actually wasn’t always the case; Birdman negotiated a distribution deal with Universal in 1998 once he better understood the ins and outs of publishing. But he appreciates that Universal didn’t try to take advantage of his ignorance.

“When I went to [Universal], I ain’t even know about publishing and all that,” said Birdman. “I ain’t know about none of that. I went to them with an attorney — whatever his name was — I was just like, ‘I ain’t trying to give up nothing.’ ‘Cause I felt like I lost everything already; I lost my family. […] So I was like, this is what I want to do, I want to own my s—t. I’m going to own 100% of my s—t.”

Birdman explained that he had seen multiple labels take advantage of other artists, and he didn’t want the same thing to happen to himself or anyone under Cash Money Records.

“I thought I was doing it for everybody that it already happened to,” he continued. “So I’m going to make sure it don’t happen to me. […] But we going to make mistakes — we human. We young and if we come across a lot of money at a young age, we going to make a lot of mistakes.”

The rapper concluded that his time in prison as a teenager made him a better businessman and forced him to take the business side of his music career more seriously. “It made me a better person. It made me see life different. ‘Cause I was just young in the trenches, but I seen what that could bring to me if I wasn’t smarter and if I wasn’t a businessman. It made me change my life.”