Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs Gives Back Music Rights to Bad Boy Records Artists, Empowering Artists and Setting a New Industry Standard

In an unprecedented move, Sean “Diddy” Combs has chosen to return music rights to artists and songwriters who were signed to his label, Bad Boy Records, instead of capitalizing on them. Bad Boy Records, known for its influential hip-hop artists in the 1990s such as Ma$e, Faith Evans, 112, The Lox, and Notorious B.I.G., is now giving its acts control over their songwriting rights. This decision comes at a time when the value of music publishing rights has skyrocketed, with artists like Bob Dylan and Neil Young opting for multi-million dollar deals to relinquish future royalties.
Combs, however, has taken a different path. He declined lucrative offers and chose to prioritize “giving back to the people who helped build his company,” according to sources. This move, celebrated by Billboard and Rolling Stone, coincides with the 30th anniversary of Bad Boy Records. The process of contacting the artists and writers began in May 2021, and while most parties have agreed to the deal and signed contracts, others are still being tracked down.
Established in 1993 as a joint venture between Combs and Arista Records, Bad Boy Records played a significant role in shaping the hip-hop landscape. The label was responsible for iconic tracks such as Notorious B.I.G.’s “Juice” and “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems,” Craig Mack’s “Flava In Ya Ear,” and Ma$e’s “Feel So Good.” It was customary at the time for labels to secure a percentage of an artist’s publishing rights, creating a longstanding source of tension within the industry.
This tension surfaced when Combs publicly criticized the lack of respect for hip-hop and black music at the Grammys during a 2020 Pre-Grammy Gala. Ma$e, one of Bad Boy Records’ artists, called out his former label boss, alleging that Combs had knowingly mistreated his artists. Ma$e claimed to have offered Combs $2 million to repurchase his publishing rights, but the offer was turned down. This public dispute shed light on the unequal power dynamics between artists and labels, specifically regarding ownership of valuable intellectual property.
The news of Combs’ decision to return publishing rights was first leaked by Cam’ron, a longtime friend and collaborator of Ma$e, who confirmed on Instagram that the deal had been finalized. Combs not only perceives this move as part of a larger conversation on the economic empowerment of black artists and culture but also hopes to inspire other labels to follow suit.
In addition to this philanthropic act, Combs is continuing to create new music. His upcoming album, “The L.O.V.E. Album: Off the Grid,” features notable guest artists such as Justin Bieber, Burna Boy, The Weeknd, Mary J Blige, Busta Rhymes, Tayana Taylor, and H.E.R. Furthermore, Combs is set to receive the Global Icon Award at the upcoming MTV Awards in New Jersey, where he will also perform live.
This groundbreaking decision by Combs marks a turning point in the music industry. It sets a new standard for artist-label relationships and highlights the importance of empowering artists by giving them control over their own creative works. As the conversation around the economic empowerment of black artists gains momentum, Combs’ actions serve as a catalyst for change and promote a more equitable future within the music industry.