Birdman: Cash Money Records makes $20-30M from artists’ masters
In a recent episode of Where’s Wallo, hosted by social influencer, Wallace Peeples, rap mogul Bryan “Birdman” Williams revealed how much money Cash Money Records is still making from its artists’ masters. In the conversation, Peeples asks about how having master rights over songs and albums makes money.
“Our music has value,” said Birdman. “We license the music, I just started letting people sample my s—. So yeah, it’s a gang of ways you can make money with your masters. We generate $20-30M a year just on our masters.”
The label was founded in 1991 by New Orleans native Birdman and his brother, Ronald “Slim” Williams.
In the interview, Birdman also shared that he owned his masters when he signed a $30M distribution deal with Universal Music Group in 1997.
“I think our deal was so underestimated, they didn’t think we would do what we did. I was still in the streets and went in there with a street mentality. Like I lost too much, too many people died for this s—,” said Birdman. “So I wasn’t trying to give them nothing but a P&D [pressing and distribution] deal.”
News about the astronomical earnings drew various reactions on The Shade Room and elsewhere online, with some praising the business savvy of Cash Money’s leadership and others questioning how artists signed to the label are fairing in comparison.
In the late 90s and early 2000s, Cash Money Records, helmed by the Williams brothers, took over the music industry with hits like Juvenile’s “Back That Thang Up,” The Hot Boyz’ “I Need A Hot Girl” and B.G. featuring Juvenile and Lil Wayne’s “Bling, Bling.”
In 2005, Lil Wayne launched Young Money Entertainment as a label underneath Cash Money, which catapulted artists like Drake, Nicki Minaj and Tyga into the mainstream.
In recent years, several Cash Money artists have gone public with their disputes over earnings through their deals with the storied record label. In 2015, Lil Wayne, born Dwayne Michael Carter Jr., sued Cash Money for $51M, alleging that the record label withheld money after delaying the Tha Carter V album and reached a settlement in 2018.
The same year, rapper Tyga filed a lawsuit against Cash Money and Young Money for $1M in unpaid royalties, but later dropped the case.
In 2019, Aspire Music Group, a label that signed Drake, settled a years-long dispute with Cash Money Records after claiming it failed to deliver on the portion of net profits and copyright controls.
While the news about how much Cash Money Records is still raking in might draw some side eyes from those who are familiar with the label’s legal battles, only time will tell if any more artists will take legal action against the label.
Despite their legal and financial disputes, Williams and Carter are apparently in good enough standing to collaborate.
Last month, the two were seen with rapper Roddy Rich shooting a video, but details haven’t been released.
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