It’s not often that a singer asks fans to stop buying or streaming her music but legendary songstress Anita Baker has done just that as she battles with her record company for ownership of her master recordings.
The Detroit-based icon recently tweeted the request and referenced the late musician Prince in her tweets. Prince was in an infamous fight for artistic control over his music and recordings in 1992, when he changed his name to a symbol and painted the word “slave” across his cheeks. Record companies treat artists like slaves, Prince said.
Now Baker, 63, is fighting for her musical freedom.
A master recording is the official original recording of a song. Also referred to as “masters,” it is the source from which all the later copies are made.
Baker noted on Twitter that “she’d outlived all of her recording contracts and that the right to her masters should legally revert to her. Baker is referencing copyright reversion, which allows musicians to retain their copyrights after 35 years,” Yahoo reported.
The law, however, doesn’t mean that that reversion is immediate, or automatic, according to music advocacy group the Future of Music Coalition.
Baker is considered one of the most popular singers of soulful romantic ballads during the height of the quiet storm period of contemporary R&B in the 1980s.
Baker’s fans are encouraging her to fight.
“That’s so ridiculous. You’ve truly opened my eyes and helped me to understand how undervalued you all are and it just isn’t right. I’ve stopped streaming your music because I am standing with you & I am also believing with you that you WILL get your Masters,” tweeted one.
Another posted, “Thank you Ms. Baker for giving us the inside #’s on how unbelievably tiny the pay is for streaming music. Stay strong in your fight for your masters”
Baker wants her masters for seven studio albums and one live album. They include hit singles like “Sweet Love” “Caught Up in The Rapture” and “Giving You The Best That I Got,” all of which Baker co-wrote. If she does get her masters, she can control how the songs are used and she can benefit financially from song placement in commercials, movies, etc.
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