In 2020, Lil Wayne sold his masters to Universal Music Group for $100 million. In 2022, Australian rapper Iggy Azaela sold her masters and publishing to Domain Capital Group for a solid 8-figures.
As you can see, rappers selling their music rights for big gwuap is now a common occurrence in the music biz. And the person responsible for starting this trend of selling masters for big bucks is Irv Gotti, at least according to the founder of Murder Inc.
On his second appearance on Drink Champs, which was uploaded to YouTube on August 19, Gotti said he is the reason why artists like Justin Bieber and Future sold their masters for ridiculous gwuap (earlier this year, the Biebs sold his music rights to Hipgnosis Songs Capital for $200 million; last year Future sold his master publishing rights to Influence Media Partners for a reported $75 million).
“All of the other artists, the Futures, Justin Bieber,” Gotti told N.O.R.E., “I think they looked at me and they was like, ‘Wow! How much money [Irv] got? A hundred [milliion]? Let’s see what we could get.’”
In July of last year, Gotti hopped on Instagram to announce, in the caption of a post, that he essentially sold his masters. The following week, Music Business Worldwide reported that Gotti sold a stake in Murder Inc’s “master recordings to Iconoclast as part of a $300 million deal.”
At one point during the Drink Champs interview, Gotti explained why he sold his masters — not to mention his “publishing” and “producer royalties” — in the first place: “I had a plan…to sell my past and invest in my future,” Gotti said, proudly.
Earlier this year, a CNN report suggested the trend of snatching up the rights to legendary records started in 2018 with the founder Hipgnosis, Merck Mercuriadis. According to the report, Mercuriadis wanted to help the “songwriter community…establish music as an asset class and create a market.”
Gotti may not have started this trend, but he most likely accelerated it to its current speed.