Caught Up in the Masters: Anita Baker Asks Fans Not to Stream or Buy Music as She Fights to Reclaim Her Music Rights

Anita Baker accepts the Lifetime Achievement Award onstage at the 2018 BET Awards at Microsoft Theater on June 24, 2018, in Los Angeles, California.
Anita Baker accepts the Lifetime Achievement Award onstage at the 2018 BET Awards at Microsoft Theater on June 24, 2018, in Los Angeles, California.
Photo: Leon Bennett (Getty Images)

Anita Baker, the legendary singer that brought us “Sweet Love” and the soundtrack to Saturday morning cleaning sprees, is currently embroiled in a fight for her music masters, The Root has learned.


In a tweet posted online, Baker revealed to her nearly 600k Twitter followers and fans that she had “miraculously outlived all her artists contracts” and that by law, the record company was to give the ownership of her masters back to her after so many years. But apparently, that means nothing to said record company as Baker then revealed that they were going to “make her fight for them”—but she is prepared to do whatever it takes.

Miraculously... I have out-lived *ALL, of my Artists Contracts. They no longer “Own”, My Name & Likeness. And, by Law...30 yr old, Mstrs are 2B Returned, 2 Me. Unfortunately, They’re gonna make me Fight 4 it. I’m Prepared, 2 do that. Please Dont advertise/buy them ABXO

Many artists over the years have spoken out about the complicated nature of the music industry, particularly as it pertains to ownership. Most can immediately recall Prince and his pull-and-tug relationship with Warner Bros. over the course of his career. As Essence reports, most masters aren’t owned by the artist themselves, with many of them making money largely from record sales and eventually other various extensions such as merchandise, brand deals, and other ventures. And even with things like royalties put in place and streaming revenue, the money made from that doesn’t do much to strongly impact an artist’s pocket unless they legally own their masters outright. It’s an unfortunately sad fact that is well known throughout the industry and one especially known to Ms. Baker, who explained in a series of tweets:

Recordings Streamed & Sold are Inferior & Missing Original Instrumentation. Recording Speeds have been ‘Sped Up’ Bootleg/Bogus ‘Vinyls’ R Not from Original Analog Mstrs. But, from Re-Processed (no Mid- Range frequencies) Digital Copies. Fans Deserve Better.

She added: “Correction 2020 Streaming rate $0.003 - $0.005. 1/3rd - 1/2 A PENNY Per Stream, for Artist minus fees, taxes etc, etc, etc. They need to Leave me alone, fr.”


I know that’s right. Y’all heard Aunty: Run her her masters! (And do it expeditiously because our homes can’t and won’t clean themselves.)


Corinthian Leatherface

The record industry has for over 100 years been the most blatant cesspool of thievery in the professional world. Every single artist has a horror story or ten to tell. You can blow off the artist’s complaints as coming from spoiled celebrities but if you knew all of the injustices you wouldn’t even believe such bullshit was possible. Listen to what Anita Baker says. Listen to what Prince said. And, oddly enough, Google what Courtney Love said about the industry. It’s freakin’ horrible.