Over the last 12 months, as streaming and studio mergers and consolidation milestones crowded the entertainment headlines, the music business has quietly shaken up conventional wisdom with mega-deals for singer-songwriters.
Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Fleetwood Mac, Stevie Nicks, David Bowie, Neil Young and many other high-profile artists and estates have made deals to sign away their life-long rights, in the low to mid-nine figures, many since January this year.
What’s behind this sudden rush towards catalog ownership, and these mega-valuations?
Conventional wisdom points to the exploding music streaming market (led by Spotify), that has resulted in unexpected royalties in the tens of millions of dollars to artists with catalogs that were once simply nostalgic, but now extremely valuable and potent.
Reportedly, Springsteen’s work threw off over $15 million in sales in 2021 alone.
“The Boss” (a nickname Springsteen himself winces over), has commanded the largest known price tag so far, at $500 million, signaling that Sony has meaningful plans for his discography that will likely extend far beyond background music for pharmaceutical ads or other cringe-worthy and dreaded sales jingles.
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With beloved titles ranging from Born to Run to The Rising spanning a 50-year recording career, Sony will seek to exploit Springsteen’s work across many platforms, including but not limited to:
— Spotify and other domestic and global music streaming apps
— Reissues of existing albums and re-packaging/re-imagining of existing songs
— Broadway adaptations of classic songs or full albums
— Film and TV adaptations of the same
— Licensing opportunities for Film, TV, Theater and Gaming
— Web 3 digital exploitation
Once exclusively the voice of the New Jersey working class, now a 20 time Grammy winner, Oscar winner, Tony winner and Presidential Medal of Freedom winner, Springsteen’s consistent output and commitment to remaining a relevant songwriter and performer has catapulted him beyond the mainstream and into that rare class of globally-recognized music icons.
How Springsteen’s intellectual property gets monetized over the coming months, years and decades will help feed and influence the value of future career artists, from Jay Z to Taylor Swift and beyond.
Let’s just hope Sony has the good sense and restraint not to allow “Hungry Heart” to be used as a commercial for McDonald’s
Then again, why not?