Kanye West has come out with claims that his publishing catalogue is “being put up for sale” without his approval, involvement or even awareness – contesting reports that his team had pitched the sale to prospective buyers.
Earlier this week, Billboard reported that West was “quietly and intermittently shopping his publishing catalog”, and that representatives for the rapper had met privately with prospective buyers to “explore what kind of valuation” his extensive discography could net.
It’s said that West is eying a valuation as high as 35 times that of the net publisher’s share – around $175million (£153.9million), based on the estimation that West’s catalogue earns him $5million (£4.4million) of annual revenue.
West has now denied his reported involvement in the potential sale, taking to his Instagram Story overnight to declare that his catalogue is “not for sale”, noting that “just like Taylor Swift, my publishing is being put up for sale without my knowledge”.
The situation West is referring to is the 2019 sale of Swift’s material released between 2006 to 2017, which was acquired by Scooter Braun (with whom Swift had long feuded) when he purchased her former label, Big Machine Records, for $330million (£290million). That sale was enormously controversial, with Swift herself describing it as her “worst case scenario” and leading her to re-record two of the albums she no longer owns the original masters to – 2008’s ‘Fearless’ and 2012’s ‘Red’ – with the suffix of ‘Taylor’s Version’.
The rights to West’s catalogue currently lie with Sony Music Publishing. According to Billboard, the company has “slowed down” their efforts to “test the market for [West’s] catalog” in recent months.
Doing so indicates one of three things: that the rapper’s team have secured a prospective bidder, have failed to generate interest in the sale due to its exorbitant asking price, or had potentially never actually shopped it to begin with.
West now appears adamant that the lattermost scenario is the case. In a follow-up to his aforementioned Instagram Story, he shared a text exchange between himself and a member of his team, who told West that his former manager Gee Roberson called the report “fake news”. The unnamed team member noted that “of course every publisher wants to pitch [their] hardest to buy”.
Last week, West filed a number of new trademarks to expand his Donda Sports clothing brand. He also made waves for opening his own private school – a Christian prep institution called Donda Academy – which reportedly aims to “prepare students to become the next generation of leaders”.