Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan among music stars selling catalogs: NPR


Jamie McCarthy / Getty Images for SUFH

Bruce Springsteen carrying a guitar and singing on stage

Jamie McCarthy / Getty Images for SUFH

Bruce Springsteen’s entire catalog – including composition and recordings – reportedly cost Sony Music Group north of $ 500 million.

Even before the official announcement of the purchase in May, Sony Music Group Chairman Rob Stringer, told investors he had spent around $ 1.5 billion just on music acquisitions since the start of the year.

“Including the rights of some of the most iconic artists of all time, such as Paul Simon,” he gloated.

Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Stevie Nicks and Neil Young These are just a few of the stars who have recently sold substantial rights to their music. It should be noted: there are huge differences between the royalties for songwriting and performance. Some of these offers are for publication only; others also include the original recordings, called masters.

An old musical framework sums up the current market for each of them. “It’s very hot,” she exclaims. “Hot hot hot!”

Serona elton used to working with big labels. She is now Professor and Associate Dean at the University of Miami Frost School of Music. She likens being a famous musician with a catalog of hits to owning a property in a place like Austin, Texas.

“All of a sudden the market is crazy and everyone is paying ridiculous amounts of money,” she says. “And people are worried it’s a bubble. This might be a good time to sell.”

But we’re talking about huge musicians who aren’t exactly starving performers and show a noticeable attention to creative control. Why sell so many of their precious old catalogs?

“The pandemic is part of it”, explains Tatiana cirisano, music analyst at MIDiA research. “The tour has been stuck for some time. She could be stuck again. “

Even Bruce Springsteen took a hit when it came to live performance and touring income last year. And, underlines Cirisano, the accountants of these musicians know very well that the taxes on the capital gains can evolve unfavorably for the people holding such assets. Also, to be frank, many of these musicians are seniors. They plan their succession.


When Bob Dylan sold his entire catalog of compositions to Universal Music Publishing Group last year, it included music he had written over 50 years ago. So it takes a lump sum now, rather than relying on royalties every time Mr. Tambourine Man goes viral on any platform that could be the most popular in a few decades. Even younger artists like Shakira and Calvin Harris have recently sold parts of their old catalogs, because companies pay so much for them.

Rob Stringer of Sony Music Group told investors this spring not to worry about the price of these acquisitions. Stocks go up and down, but Lucrative music rights feel more secure, he noted, thanks to Spotify, Apple and other streaming and subscription services.

“The number of users of paid music streaming services increased by nearly 100 million in 2020 to reach 443 million worldwide,” he explained. Many research analysts predict that number will well exceed 1 billion by 2030. In the music publishing market, streaming is generating similar sustained growth. The publishing industry achieved its seventh consecutive year of ‘expansion, up 5.2% in 2020, “he continued. .

Synergy is the name of the game here as well; when Sony purchases music from Bruce Springsteen, they can more easily use it in films and television produced by Sony studios. Other artists from Sony labels can sample or cover his songs, and every time a Bruce Springsteen biopic comes out, you can bet a Sony movie studio will.

Other artists are said to be on the verge of selling their catalogs, including the estate of David Bowie. Whatever its value, it will be determined in large part by the data we provide to them, perhaps even at this precise moment.


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