Back in the summer when it seemed that every second heritage artist was selling their catalogues to companies like Hipgnosis and Primary, someone asked me who the biggest “get” would be for any one of these organizations.
“Paul McCartney,” I said, “but he’s not selling. After being ripped off and spending decades reacquiring his music, he’s not going to give anything up at any price. After him, though, the most lucrative guy for this market is Bruce Springsteen. But The Boss wouldn’t sell off his music. Would he?”
We have our answer. According to multiple reports, Springsteen has reached a deal with Sony (his long-time record label and music publisher) to part with more than 300 songs, 20 studio albums, 23 live records, and more. The price? US$500 million, the largest amount to date spent on acquiring an artist’s song catalogue. To put that into perspective, Universal bought everything from Bob Dylan a year ago for a price between US$300 million and US$450 million.
Again, let’s be clear about what’s happening here.
Like most of the artists involved in these massive transactions, Bruce is in his 70s. He already has more money than he can spend and stood to make a lot more from his music for the rest of his life. Sony is simply advancing him the money he would have earned otherwise over the course of time. But by getting all this cash upfront now, he can engage in estate planning, special projects, and anything else he desires knowing that he has full financial security for him, his family, and his heirs.
This is not selling out. Bruce is just getting an advance on his earnings, money that would have come in after his death. By selling to Sony, he knows that they will keep his music alive for decades to come. (They kinda have to because they need to make their money back on this investment.)
Who else has sold? I’ve been keeping this running tally.