Music fans have been paying attention to recent headlines about multi-million-dollar deals to sell the catalogs of major artists. Earlier this year, Warner Chappell announced it was buying the publishing rights to the late David Bowie’s catalog for an amount that was reportedly over $250 million. Other big deals in the past few years have involved the catalogs of Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Nicks, Paul Simon, Neil Young and more.
In all these cases, buyers are betting that the catalogs of these famous artists will continue to generate income for many years to come, even after they are gone, and even in this era of digital streaming. That’s probably a safe bet: These artists are all well-known and their music continues to be in demand for licensing deals and on streaming services.
Investments in mid-tier artists
While the biggest names and the biggest prices get all the headlines, there has also been a lot of action recently in the market for the catalogs of artists who are somewhat lesser known. Recent years have seen major deals involving the catalogs of artists such as Justin Timberlake, Shakira and Tim McGraw.
Behind these deals are investment funds such as Hipgnosis Songs, Primary Wave Music, Lyric Capital Group, Seeker Music and HarbourView Equity Partners. All are purchasing the rights to the works of these artists in the hope that these rights will continue to generate revenue in much the same way that Dylan and Springsteen’s work will, but with one big difference: According to the investors in these deals, there is more potential for growth in the catalogs of these younger artists. Investors believe they can expand the markets for these works in a way that may not work for older artists whose audiences, though huge, may not have much more room to grow.
The business of music copyrights
To a struggling young songwriter, all this talk of multi-million-dollar deals may seem alien, but in fact many of the legal issues are the same whether you are playing stadiums or the coffee house down the street. Your work is valuable, and if you want to to make money from it, it’s important to have a handle on your copyrights. Artists can speak to attorneys with experience in intellectual property law to learn about how to best protect their work and their futures.