Damn right Rihanna's a feminist. She's also a powerful, multi-platinum artist, and a seriously good business woman. When it comes to the music business specifically, RiRi knows exactly what she's doing. According to this month's issue of Vanity Fair, the icon "recently made a deal to own all of her past and future master recordings, and from now on she’ll release her music through her company, Westbury Road." I repeat, Rihanna will release her music through her own company from now on. Hell yes, RiRi. Wouldn't expect anything less from you.
This is actually, like, kind of a big deal. Usually, artists with labels are expected to hand over the rights to their recordings upon signing. This means that the artists themselves don’t have the final say in where any of their studio or live recordings end up. Labels have the legal ability to license them to third parties — i.e. TV, film commercials — without consent from the artist, and, sometimes, without even compensating the artist. You can see ,then, why this is a major power move by Rihanna, and, because she's one of the first woman to do it in the biz (alongside Mariah Carey, who, according to rap-up, owns the masters to her soundtrack for Glitter), the move is inherently feminist.
Rihanna has redefined what it means to be a female player in this male dominated culture of music production and execution. Time and time again, she has reinvented herself and proven to be a beacon of light for woman in the industry. According to that same Vanity Fair article, Jay Z said, “What took me 15 or 20 years to get has taken her 10." Even though he predicated her, it's inspiring to see that a female artist was able to secure the rights to her music in less time than it took a male to do so, especially when that male is someone as powerful and influential as Jay Z. It really says a lot about Rihanna's savvy and perseverance, but I can't say that I'm necessarily surprised.
Because frankly, there's no other way to say this, but... Rihanna is a boss. Billboard reported back in July that Rihanna is the first artist to surpass the Recording Industry Association of America's "100 million cumulative singles award threshold," meaning that she's had over 100 million gold and platinum song certifications. And let me just reiterate that one more time: she's the first artist to achieve this feat.
Over 100 million gold and platinum song certifications sounds like a stream of revenue that any pop artist wouldn't (and shouldn't) take lightly. Rihanna knows her worth — it's proven right there in the sales and success of her career — so why wouldn't she take control of her master recordings? There's no better way for Rihanna to pave the way for female artists, and introduce a paradigm shift in the system, then to do something as bold and smart as this. You know who better have Rihanna's money? Rihanna.
All jokes aside, it doesn't seem to be entirely about that for her. Of course, the money is important, but the message is greater than that. The message is that any woman — pop star or not — has a voice when it comes to their rights as an artist, employee, or whatever. Taking command over your own independence — and knowing your worth — will always be something worth celebrating. Especially for woman.
So thanks Rihanna, for reminding us about the kind of power we all possess.
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