Kanye West launched a pair of lawsuits on Friday (January 25) against two of his music industry partners – Universal Music Group and EMI Music Publishing.
Little is known about the filings other than their intention: to remove himself from deals with both parties. And, perhaps, to regain control of his catalog.
West was certainly keen to “buy my publishing” from EMP – now fully owned by Sony Corp, and administered by Sony/ATV – in October, because he said as much in a video posted online that month.
“I went to go buy my publishing from Sony/ATV, and they said it was $8 million, $9 million,” he said. “And when I went to buy it, they told me no, I couldn’t buy my publishing… I have the money to buy my publishing, and they told me that I couldn’t buy my publishing.”
He added in the video: “So, Big Jon [Platt], Marty [Bandier], whoever is involved, I need my publishing. I got the money. I’m not going to say the ‘s’ word. I’m not Prince; I don’t need to write it on my face.”
The Hollywood Reporter reports that West’s Universal and EMI lawsuits were filed on Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court, and that the documents are almost “entirely redacted”.
However, one line from the EMI suit remains readable in full: “There now exists a dispute between Plaintiffs and Defendant EMI regarding the parties’ rights and obligations to one another under the EMI Contract and Extensions.”
Similar language, reports THR, exists in the Universal Music Group lawsuit, which focuses on recorded music and also names Def Jam and Roc-a-Fella Records – as well as Bravado, suggesting merch rights may also be covered.
West is seeking declaratory relief, while alleging unjust enrichment on EMI and Universal’s behalf. He’s represented by Quinn Emanuel litigator Robert Schwartz.
Kanye West originally signed to EMI Music Publishing in 2003.Music Business Worldwide