Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Nicks and more artists selling their music catalogs

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If it seems like these music icons are all rushing to strike deals, you’re right.

“It’s a great time to sell, especially last year when capital gains taxes were going to go up under the Biden administration. Everyone was trying to sell before December 31 to avoid being taxed. [as high]. Bob went under the wire like a lot of other artists,” Hannah Karp, Billboard’s editorial director told CNN. If artists ever had to sell their music rights, now is a great time because they won’t always get those prices.”

It was announced earlier this month that Young had sold a significant portion of his song catalog for $150 million to the Hipgnosis Song Fund.

Nicks landed a deal in November for $100 million with Primary Wave for his share of the publishing rights to songs such as “Edge of Seventeen” and “Landslide.”

Springsteen’s deal with Sony Music in December was valued at $550 million for his recording and songwriting rights. He first signed with Sony’s Columbia Records in 1972 and said in a statement at the time of the sale that he was “delighted” that his legacy would continue to be supported “by society and the people I know and whom I trust”.

For some artists, the decision to sell now could also be part of their legacy planning.

“A lot of artists who sell their catalogs come to a point in their lives where they’re planning their estates, sort of planning for the future and they’re at a point in their lives where it makes sense to sell their music to support their families’ needs,” Karp said, noting that Dylan turned 80 in May.

Although not as common, some younger artists also enter into catalog deals.

Imagine Dragons sold its catalog to Concord Music Publishing in August. Shakira signed a deal announced this month with Hipgnosis Songs Fund for her entire catalog, which includes hits like “Hips Don’t Lie,” “Whenever, Wherever” and “She Wolf.”
Other artists, like Taylor Swift, are fighting to retain creative control and publishing rights to their music — and, Karp said, selling now isn’t the right move for all artists.
Shakira, who is performing here in 2020, recently sold her music catalog.

“If you’re a young artist and you waste a lot of money, and then you get older and you have no income, you’ll probably regret it,” Karp said. “Owning music assets is like owning a retirement fund.”

Essentially, Karp said, good music is just good business.

“The music industry is driven by streaming which is a steady and growing source of revenue, it’s not like the good old days where you put a CD on the market and it was unpredictable how many copies you would sell Record labels make money from streaming subscriptions,” Karp said, adding, “Because interest rates are currently very low, investors are looking for places to park their money that will offer higher returns. than the prevailing interest rate. As long as interest rates remain relatively low, music assets are a pretty attractive yield.”

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