Harry Styles’ solo career is off to a great start with chart-topping singles and two successful albums. Fans wonder, though, does he own the masters to his hit songs?
It’s thought that Harry Styles doesn’t own his masters. He has his own independent record label, but the parent company, Columbia Records, likely owns all of his masters.
Most Musicians Do Not Own Their Masters
Master recordings are the first recordings of a song, from which other copies or remixes can be made. In a traditional record deal, a musician signs away the rights to their masters in return for an advance payment to fund the record. While this is a great way to get a music career started, especially for new artists, it may pose a problem later on.
Experts recommend that artists retain the rights to their masters if possible. Owning the masters gives artists the freedom to negotiate with any record label and even sell their songs for commercial use in movies, TV shows, or even other artists’ remixes.
Harry Took the Same Route as Many Celebrities
Harry Styles is not the only famous singer to manage his own small independent record label. Beyonce similarly started Parkwood Entertainment as an imprint label under Columbia Records.
Having her own imprint label gave Beyonce more flexibility, but not complete control over her recordings. Her masters are still owned by Columbia Records.
Harry’s independent label takes the same shape as Beyonce’s, so he has the freedom to make music and even sign other artists onto his label. However, Columbia Records still owns his music and retains the rights to his masters.
Harry’s Solo Records are in High Demand
Before he even started his solo career, Harry Styles’ upcoming music was fought over by record labels that wanted to sign him. Apple reportedly offered him $25 Million for a deal, and Jay Z also tried to sign the young Harry Styles in 2016.
Harry’s Record Label Had a Rocky Start
One would expect that a major celebrity like Harry Styles would have signed his multi-million pound record deal and been off to a successful recording career. The truth, however, is that Erksine Records had financial troubles in the beginning.
During its first full year as a label, Erksine Records reported a loss of £831,617 in March 2017. However, Harry quickly made up for the debt when he released his first solo album later that year.
Harry’s Album Success Turned His Label Around
Harry’s debut self-titled album sold 230,000 copies in its first week, shattering the record for best-selling first week of a debut album by a male British artist. This quickly made up for his record label’s debt and made him a large sum of profit.
Harry’s second album similarly earned huge success and income for the artist. “Fine Line” sold more than 478,000 units, ranking as the third best selling album in 2019.
Harry Styles now has a set worth of approximately $30 Million. This number will only go up with every subsequent hit album.
Harry May Want to Own His Masters Eventually
Although Harry has garnered a large sum of fame and money, he may change his approach one day. He seems to be doing fine, but someday he may want to own his masters to exert even more control over his songs’ usage.
Taylor Swift recently earned a lot of press coverage for her fight to own her masters. She started her career with Big Machine Records and sadly they retained the rights to her masters when she ended her contract. Taylor Swift changed her strategy and owns the masters for her newest album, “Lover.”
Taylor’s battle for her masters turned ugly. She called her former music manager, Scooter Braun, a bully. In response, he posted to Instagram detailing the threats he and his family received from Swift fans:
Harry Styles has not fought for his masters yet, but he may follow Taylor Swift’s footsteps and have a legal battle in the near future. He may eventually want to own his masters and control where his songs can be played.