Maintaining control of your masters is something that many artists strive for, especially as their status in the industry grows and record labels hold the rights to their music.
When preparing to ink her first major record deal, Ice Spice entered negotiations with a strong team and an even stronger set of demands. Though this tactic is considered fairly risky for an up-and-comer, Ice Spice’s courageous approach resulted in a deal that many rising rappers could only dream of: securing the backing of an industry giant while maintaining control of her masters and publishing.
Ice Spice began generating buzz in summer 2022, after the release of her hit records “Munch” and “Bikini Bottom”—both of which were distributed through the independent company Create Music Group. Her manager, James Rosemond Jr., told Billboard the CMG partnership was ideal for a then-indie Ice Spice, as it provided more exposure opportunities.
“I knew Create Music had sister companies — WorldStar, Genius, Datpiff. So my thing was, ‘Here’s this record. Here’s the vision,’” he said, adding that WorldStar HipHop premiered Ice Spice’s music videos on YouTube, while Genius featured her in its Open Mic series. “We was able to be very strategic with it — and it worked.”
It wasn’t long before Capitol Records and 10K Projects expressed interest in signing the Bronx-born rapper; however, Rosemond wanted to ensure his client walked away with the friendliest terms, including ownership of her music. He enlisted the help of Leon Morabia, an entertainment attorney he had known since high school.
“We wasn’t freestyling it,” he said about the Capitol/10K Projects meeting. “We had that vision walking in.”
The strategy proved to be a success, and Ice Spice signed with the imprints shortly after. Not only did Ice Spice retain the rights to her music, but she was also given full creative control.
“No one on the label side touches the music,” 10K co-presidents Zach Friedman told Billboard. “There is no traditional A&R with her. No one’s picking beats, no one’s saying, ‘Do this, do that.’ It’s all her. We’re on her schedule.”
Rosemand says bold business tactics can be attributed to his upbringing. As the son of hip-hop mogul James “Jimmy Henchman” Rosemond, the music manager said he was “privy to a lot of his [father’s] deal-making.”
“Me being a sponge allowed me to soak up what contracts looked like and how to approach labels,” he explained.
When record labels began knocking at Ice Spice’s door, Rosemond said he told the rapper, “‘Let’s do it ourselves first.’ Deals came to her — production deals, 360 deals — but they were deals that I knew could be better, and in order to get a better deal, you have to go out and do it yourself.”