UGK is marked in history as one of the greatest Hip-Hop duos.
However, their solidified spot in the culture since their official debut in the 90s didn’t make them exempt from the pitfalls of the music industry.
During an interview with B High TV, Bun B spoke about Sony’s new clause where, if you were signed to the label before 2000 and you haven’t accepted any advances from a Sony subsidiary within a certain period of time, they will clear your bill.
However, UGK took an advance on their last two albums and had to wait to be in the clear.
“Because we took the advance in ’07 I think, we have to wait seven years after we hit that,” Bun B explained. “There was a seven-year period when we took money after 2000, so once we hit 2027, I believe our balance is clear with Sony.”
“UGK has never made one dollar in royalties from the selling of our music and we didn’t have our own publishing for about 17 years,” he added. “Right before [Pimp C] passed, all rights reverted back to us. So, I licensed my publishing out to companies.”
During the course of the interview, Bun B went on to mention that UGK could potentially still be over $2 million in the red with Sony.
He broke down that artists’ income isn’t built on the percentage of how much money their art makes but rather how much money they make of what their art makes.
“So with us having a 15 percent deal, that 15 percent has never gotten close to paying back the debt,” he said. “Whereas their 85 percent, they profit very easily…If you sign for 10 percent and your album sells a million records, your 10 percent is $100,000 and theirs is [$900,000].”
He continued: “So they made your money back from you but you still probably owe them money because you probably took an advance. You shot videos. You had to record an album. So you owe them [$550,000] and that’s on the low side.”
Bun B’s advice for new artists who aren’t trying to be in a cycle of debt was to not have to take advances from labels. He suggests that artists be hustlers or business-minded, make a plan, and be backed by a strong team.