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Artist ownership of masters has become relatively common in recent years, but from what I've seen, that's been driven by the indie labels and artists. A lot of major artists, often those at the superstar level, do own their masters. As Bob points out, they often get ownership when they re-up with a label, but does that apply to ALL of their recording for the label, or just their work from that point on? Buck Owens owned all of his Capitol masters, but that was a deal he negotiated when had the clout and the money to do so. Many artists own SOME of their masters, but not the most valuable ones. I believe the Beach Boys own their masters from 1969 on--some valuable material is included, but their earlier material is worth far more. I think the Kinks and Rolling Stones also own their later masters, but not the 60s hits. It doesn't surprise me to learn that Stevie Wonder owns his masters--he's a superstar. But do Motown artists like Mary Wells or the Contours own their masters? Certainly, Cameo-Parkway artists such as Chubby Checker, Bobby Rydell and others had no control over their recordings. That catalog was out of print and unavailable on CD until only a  few years ago, when Abkco reissued it. From what I can see, most authorized, legitimate reissues are produced by or licensed from the labels, or from the current owner of a label's catalog.

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From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of [log in to unmask]
Sent: Wednesday, August 17, 2011 1:20 AM
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Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Morning reading: One take on patents, somewhat related to discussions we've had on copyrights, plus a take on copyrights

In the jazz world bassist  Charles Mingus owned many of his masters and in the Latin world bassist Bobby Valentin did the same thing. Many artists self-financed as they did not want to owe the company store and they often struck better deals in the process. If I am.not mistaken Tom Waits also did this at a certain point with his latest label Epitaph. But perhaps the most remarkable example was Frank Zappa who owned every album he ever made.

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From: Bob Olhsson <[log in to unmask]>
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Sent: Wed, Aug 17, 2011 03:37:46 GMT+00:00
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Morning reading: One take on patents, somewhat related to discussions we've had on copyrights, plus a take on copyrights

-----Original Message-----
From Michael Biel: "  You often tell us you worked for Motown.  What Motown performer owns their masters?" 

Motown was launched by Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson buying back the lease of their master "Shop Around" from Chess as it climbed the charts! I know for a fact that Stevie Wonder owns all of his masters and I'm sure a number of the others do also. It's a pretty common part of any popular artist's second record deal with the same label. When I started asking around a few
years ago I was shocked by how common master leases have actually been.	

Bob Olhsson Audio Mastery, Nashville TN
Mastering, Audio for Picture, Mix Evaluation and Quality Control Over 40 years making people sound better than they ever imagined!
615.562.4346 http://www.bobolhsson.com http://audiomastery.com