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Anita Baker asks fans not to buy or stream her music as she battles for her masters

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The soul music icon says she is legally entitled to her master recordings, referencing Prince in her tweets

On the eve of Grammy Sunday, Anita Baker has asked fans not to buy or stream her music. The Detroit-born icon posted on Twitter last week 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.

However, the law doesn’t mean that that reversion is immediate, or automatic, according to the Future of Music Coalition, a music education and advocacy group. Per their website, there are steps a musician must take to regain their copyrights under the law.

Tyler Perry Studios Grand Opening Gala
Anita Baker attends Tyler Perry Studios grand opening gala at Tyler Perry Studios on October 05, 2019, in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for Tyler Perry Studios)
Anita Baker, 63, says that the time is up and that until she can regain those copyrights, she wants her fans to avoid her music, which includes seven studio albums and one live album. They include classic releases like The Songtress, Rapture, Compositions, and the hits “Sweet Love” “Caught Up in The Rapture” and “Giving You The Best That I Got,” all of which Baker co-wrote.

When fans questioned the directive, Baker schooled a few on the finances of the music business. In the 90s, the late artist Prince, one of the most prolific musicians of his era, publicly fought his record label, Warner Bros., for the rights to his master recordings.

In most record deals, master recordings are not owned by the artists outright. Although artists make the music, in the complex financing of the music industry, artists are advanced money to record and promote their albums. This is basically a loan they pay back through record sales. However, royalties continue to be paid out long after artists are commercially viable and that is the essence of why artists try to negotiate their contracts to get the rights to these earnings before the copyright law is up.

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