5 Times Artists Battled Record Labels

Taylor Swift is re-recording most of her older music after her label and masters were purchased by mega-manager Scooter Braun. Here's how four other recording artists have fought back against their labels. 🎤

Fighting for their music rights

Taylor Swift said she is re-recording her old albums to reclaim control of her music from her record label. She hinted at her frustrations on Good Morning America. Here are 4 other musicians have gotten creative to keep their music from labels, agents, music executives. Warner Brothers was home to Prince’s most successful records — but the pop icon’s desire for complete artistic control put him at odds with the label. In 1993, Prince changed his name to a mystical glyph, hoping his record contract would

Not be enforceable if he was no longer known as Prince. He even appeared with the word slave written on his cheek. But Prince was forced to hold to his contract with Warner Brothers. In 2014 the label finally relinquished control of his masters. Frank Ocean was under contract with Def Jam to release one more album after his smash debut, 2012’s Channel Orange. In a deal to purchase his masters and buy out his contract, Ocean released the experimental visual album Endless. Days later, he dropped his true second studio album, Blonde.

Ocean described his relationship with Def Jam as a “7-year chess game.” Pop icon Janet Jackson decided to go for double or nothing. After signing a massive $40 million multi-album deal with Virgin Records in 1991, Jackson renegotiated to an $80 million deal in 1996. The tradeoff? Jackson would regain control of her masters in exchange for four albums — a contract she finally fulfilled in 2006.

In order to regain control of his masters, Jay-Z needed to sign a new contract with Def Jam in 2004 — this time as the company’s president and CEO. After leaving that post in 2007 to launch Roc Nation, he lost control of his masters for 7 years — until they reverted back to him in 2014 under the terms of his original contract.