Hustle Mindset

Birdman Says He Still Maintains Full Ownership Of His Masters — ‘I Never Allowed None Of The Labels To Own Anything’


Cash Money Records Founder Birdman experienced several losses by the age of 16, and he was determined to steer clear of any losses in the music business.

Birdman, born Bryan Christopher Williams, started the label in 1991 alongside his brother Ronald “Slim” Williams, according to BET. They were able to gain traction and had the support of independent distributors such as Gonzales Music and SouthWest Distribution, XXL Magazine reports.

Building popularity in the South, the label caught the attention of Universal Records and signed a deal with the company on May 10, 1997, per a Max Volume Media interview Birdman gave. He later discussed the deal during an interview on the “Wilde Ride!” podcast, revealing that he was looking to retain ownership of his music due to his upbringing.

“I felt like I lost everything already. I lost my family,” he explained on the podcast. “Nothing can repay me for what I already lost. I lost my mama, my daddy, my brother, my sister… I lived a hell of a life as a kid. So, I ain’t think that none of that could be replaced. So I was like, this is what I want to do. … I want [to] own my sh-t. I want to own 100% of my sh-t.”

He added, “All I always remember how they took from everybody. I ain’t want that to happen to me, and I thought I was doing it for everybody that it already happened to, so I’m going to make sure it don’t happen to me and I could paint a picture one day when I’m not here, or when God take my life I was able to paint a picture. That’s a mold we need to follow.”

The brothers signed a $30 million three-year deal with Universal Records and were able to maintain full ownership of their masters and publishing, XXL reports. Nearly three decades later, Birdman states he still maintains ownership of the label and his masters.

“I did own everything,” he explained. “I never allowed none of the labels to own anything. Universal never owned anything. We owned all our own music, publishing. … Still today, I own 100% of my company. I own 100% of my masters.”

He continued, “I’ve got nothing but love and respect for Universal because they never tried to take that from me.”

The business decision appears to be paying off well for Birdman. In 2021, more than two decades following his signing to Universal Records, he revealed he was racking in up to $30 million annually from his masters.

“Our music has value,” Birdman shared in an interview on “Where’s Wallo,” with Wallo267. “We license the music, I just started letting people sample my sh-t. So yeah, it’s a gang of ways you can make money with your masters. We generate $20-30 million a year just on our masters.”

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