[This was my weekly column for GlobalNews.ca. – AC]
Word came down last week that The Killers, one of the most successful bands of the 21st century, had sold the rights to every song they’d written prior to 2020 to a company called Eldridge Industries. The purchase price wasn’t disclosed, but having sold 30 million albums, the number must have been very, very high.
This comes on the heels of a deal made by Imagine Dragons back in the summer. They sold their entire publishing catalogue — including the rights to songs like Radioactive, Believer, and Whatever It Takes — to Concord Music Publishing. The price tag? Somewhere around US$100 million. One. Hundred. MILLION. Dollars.
And they’re not alone. In the last few years, everyone from Barry Manilow to Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders to Nikki Sixx of Motley Crüe to Journey has cashed in by making similar deals with the Hipgnosis Songs Fund, which is run by Quebec-born Merck Mercuriadis. Its portfolio of songs is so big — it’s somewhere north of 5,000 — that the company trades on the London FTSE and has raised well over a billion dollars to acquire even more song copyrights.
Then there’s Round Hill Music with its portfolio of 120,000 songs, including tracks by The Offspring (for which they paid US$35 million), KISS, Matchbox Twenty, Black Sabbath, Bruno Mars, and Bachman-Turner Overdrive. The company also trades on the FTSE.
What’s going on? Why would artists give up control over their music? The money, obviously. But that’s only part of it.