What’s Behind the Boom in Iconic Boomer Musicians Selling Their Songs – NBC New York

  • Baby Boomer rock icons Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Stevie Nicks and Neil Young have offered all or parts of tune catalogs in current offers.
  • Acquirers are utilizing file low-interest charges to fund music rights acquisitions they count on to generate larger funding returns in the future. “It seems like anybody that has a relationship in the music business that knows anybody is trying to raise money,” says Larry Mestel, CEO of Primary Wave Records.
  • For boomer musicians, estate-planning is vital, prefer it now could be for a lot of members of America’s wealthiest technology.

From Bob Dylan plugging in his electrical guitar for the first time to Super Bowl commercials, there have all the time been moments in music historical past when the most die-hard followers will accuse their idols of doing the unthinkable: promoting out. But proper now “‘selling out” has a brand new connotation, and it’s a increase market for each traders and celebrity recording artists.

A wave of boomer rock icons are promoting out of their tune catalogs. The strikes, the newest of which was made by Paul Simon final week, level to an easy fact about the intersection of artwork and money: Music has all the time been a business the place artistic genius is rewarded with riches, and it’s a business that proper now could be seeing main modifications attributable to streaming, and additional disruptions attributable to the pandemic. The offers from Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Neil Young (in Young’s case a 50% stake) and Stevie Nicks (80% of the rights to her songs), spotlight main developments in the leisure trade, capital markets and wealth administration.

Music rights firms like Hipgnosis Songs Fund, labels like Primary Wave and conglomerates like BMG, Sony, Warner Music Group and Vivendi‘s Universal Music Group, are shopping for up premier tune catalogs in huge offers fueled by file low rates of interest with the perception there might be extra profitable returns in the future from promoting the rights to these songs throughout leisure platforms.

Record low charges gas music offers

Larry Mestel, CEO of Primary Wave Music, the company that simply acquired a majority stake in the catalog of two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Stevie Nicks, advised CNBC the financial setting that the Coronavirus pandemic has created has labored in favor of firms seeking to buy giant property. These low interest rates make it simpler to borrow money, and excessive charges of return have created an ideal alternative for acquirers.

“You’re talking about a low interest rate environment and you can achieve a 7% to 9% … and then increase that through marketing and generate mid-teen returns. That’s a very attractive place for people to put money,” he mentioned.

Music catalogs even have confirmed to be recession-proof, and the pandemic has solely heightened the quantity of offers being made as music trade goes by a large disruption attributable to the shutdown of reside venues and touring.

Streaming music’s rise

The offers additionally come at a time when streaming music — for all of its controversy and skepticism on the a part of the musicians themselves about getting a uncooked deal — has proved to be an financial juggernaut, at the very least for the file firms. In 2020, Goldman Sachs forecast that international music income would attain $142 billion by the finish of the decade, reflecting an 84% improve when in comparison with the 2019 degree of $77 billion and streaming seize 1.2 billion customers by 2030, 4 instances its 2019 degree, and primarily benefiting firms like Sony, which purchased Simon’s catalog, and Universal, which acquired Dylan’s songs.

Global streaming music income hit an all-time excessive as proportion of the trade final year (83% according to a recent report) and it favors the superstars, too. Spotify has mentioned its mission is “giving a million creative artists the opportunity to live off their art,” however as a current New York Times analysis famous, Spotify’s information reveals solely about 13,000 generated $50,000 or more in funds final year.

It’s not simply streaming, although. The rights to greater acts catalogs, as soon as acquired, can be utilized in sync placements that license music throughout varied types of media, together with movie, tv reveals, commercials, and video video games.

“From a publisher’s perspective, it is extremely valuable to obtain the rights to a certain catalog that we can pitch for synch,” mentioned Rebecca Valice, copyright and licensing supervisor at PEN Music Group. “A catalog can do its own pitching just because of its legendary success.”

Valuing rock icons

The extra recognizable a catalog is, the extra helpful it turns into for firms to buy and use in motion pictures or tv. The finest catalogs “pay for themselves” over time, she says, as synch helps recoup the money acquirers spent “and then some as time goes on.”

“I do believe that the icons and legends are worth more than the other artists,” Mestel mentioned. Primary Wave owns the catalogs of stars like Whitney Houston, Ray Charles, and Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons.

Some well-known musicians of the boomer period have lashed out at the state of affairs the trade has positioned them in, similar to David Crosby, who mentioned in a tweet in December, ” I am selling mine also … I can’t work … and streaming stole my record money … I have a family and a mortgage and I have to take care of them so it’s my only option … I’m sure the others feel the same.”

He sold his entire catalog to Irving Azoff’s Iconic Artists Group in March, which had additionally not too long ago acquired a controlling stake in The Beach Boys’ intellectual property, including a portion of the song catalog.

“Given our current inability to work live, this deal is a blessing for me and my family and I do believe these are the best people to do it with,” Crosby mentioned in a press release asserting the deal.

Boomer technology estate-planning

For the musicians themselves, there’s a mega development at work: the estate-planning wants of America’s wealthiest technology. Boomers musicians, similar to their followers, are growing old. “Artists are getting older now so they can use cash, they can estate plan,” Mestel says.

Of course, the draw back could be lack of management over an artist’s most treasured asset: the artistic genius that made their careers.

“These aging rock stars may want to cash out to provide for their estates … but you lose control of your brand and your legacy, to some extent, depending on what protections you put in place as part of the deal,” mentioned John Ozszajca, musician and founding father of Music Marketing Manifesto, a company that teaches musicians find out how to promote and market their music.  

Crosby and Azoff have been associates for a very long time, a degree Azoff made in the launch asserting the deal.

Some followers aren’t too glad about listening to hits like Nicks’ “Edge of Seventeen” or Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” promoting automobiles and garments — although Dylan has achieved a number of Super Bowl commercials relationship again a few years for GM and IBM, and his songs have been featured alone in others — however the choices to promote catalogues may also assist musicians keep away from posthumous authorized battles like the estates of Tom Petty, Prince, and Aretha Franklin needed to endure.

BMG acquired the catalog pursuits of Nicks’ bandmate, Mick Fleetwood, of Fleetwood Mac early this year and famous some stats in its announcement that present that as outdated as boomer acts could also be, they’ll get renewed life from viral streaming hits. The Fleetwood Mac tune ‘Dreams’ generated over 3.2 billion streams globally (throughout an eight-week interval September 24 to November 19, 2020) attributable to a video with a cranberry juice-loving fan, and launched a brand new technology, extra accustomed to TikTok, to Fleetwood Mac. The band’s album “Rumours” reached No. 6 on Billboard’s Streaming Songs chart 43 years after its launch.

Dylan’s deal is the largest reported to this point, estimated at $300 million although no sale worth was formally disclosed and Universal solely mentioned in a launch it was “the most significant music publishing agreement this century.”

Mestel believes the increase is not nearing an finish.

“It seems like anybody that has a relationship in the music business that knows anybody is trying to raise money. But that doesn’t mean that they can go out an identify assets to sell or even know what they’re doing.”

BMG and personal fairness big KKR not too long ago signed a deal to exit and make a significant musical rights acquisition, and as one executive told Rolling Stone, “We’re not chasing hits from January 2021. We’re looking at repertoire that’s proved itself about being part of our lives.”

KKR has been in on huge music offers in the previous, and the development of shopping for rights shouldn’t be new, however the present increase is notable, and matches inside the asset class appreciation happening throughout so many components of the market as traders search extra methods to place their money to work. While the boomer offers are the largest headlines, current acts are seeing huge paydays as effectively. Earlier this year, KKR purchased a stake in the catalog of OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder for a reportedly excessive sum.

Companies like Primary Wave are working with artists like Nicks to attempt to maintain them as a part of the deal, and make that deal even higher for them in the future, based on Mestel, who says many did not perceive that they might enter right into a partnership, promote a chunk of their catalog, and that piece doubtlessly change into extra helpful in the future than the 100% they owned earlier than.

“If all goes well, [artists] get the most out of what they’re trying to sell it for, and it’s usually a win-win scenario for the buyer and the seller,” Valice mentioned.


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