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Label Watch: Passage Records

Artists start their own labels for a multitude of reasons. Usually, it begins with sheer, blind idealism and frustration with the industry powers that be. For Phil Sheeran, a smooth jazz guitarist out of Los Angeles, the seeds were sown over a specific issue: ownership of master tapes.

To hear him tell it, Sheeran started his label, Passage Records, three years ago because he wanted to continue making albums while retaining control of rights to his master recordings. As he said, from his office in Tarzana, California, “I watched a lot of my friends make deals, where they would put out several records for a label and they don’t own any of their masters. In some cases, the album will go out of print or they’d pull it from distribution, and they couldn’t even get copies of their own record.”

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