• Market Crumbs

Musicians Are Cashing In On Their Catalogs


Image via Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Last year saw a slew of mega deals as video content providers fought over hit shows up for renewal such as Seinfeld, The Office and Friends.


Rights to Seinfeld and The Office, which were acquired by Netflix and NBCUniversal, respectively, reportedly demanded similar 5-year deals totaling $500 million. WarnerMedia reportedly paid $425 million for a 5-year deal to bring the rights to Friends to its HBO Max streaming service.


With much of the world continuing to be locked inside consuming content as a result of the coronavirus, owning the rights to what people watch and listen to is continuing to attract big bucks.


The last week has seen a pair of major deals in the music publishing space as two of music's biggest stars have decided to cash in.


Last week, music publisher Primary Wave purchased an 80% stake in Stevie Nicks' publishing catalog in a deal valued at about $100 million. The deal comes on the heels of Fleetwood Mac's renewed popularity following a viral TikTok video of a man skateboarding while listening to the band's hit "Dreams." The song, which Nicks wrote, returned to the Billboard charts for the first time since 1977.


Under the terms of the deal, Primary Wave gains the rights to Nicks' name and likeness and the two sides will form a joint venture that will allow Nicks to sign new songwriters. The two sides will also partner to generate more revenue from her catalog through marketing and branding.


"Stevie's music, while exceptionally well known, is still very undercommericalized and undermarketed," Primary Wave CEO Larry Mestel said. "There's enormous upside potential for her songs to be reinvigorated and introduced to youth culture."


Universal Music Publishing Group announced yesterday it acquired Bob Dylan's entire catalog of songs, which includes more than 600 copyrights spanning 60 years, in a deal that is reportedly worth more than $300 million. UPMG notes Dylan has sold more than 125 million records across the world and became the first songwriter to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.


"To represent the body of work of one of the greatest songwriters of all time – whose cultural importance can’t be overstated – is both a privilege and a responsibility," UMPG chairman and CEO Jody Gerson said. "We look forward to working with Bob and the team in ensuring his artistry continues to reach and inspire generations of fans, recording artists and songwriters around the world."


The deals for Nicks' and Dylan's catalogs follow a deal last month for the catalog of Taylor Swift's first six albums, which was acquired by Los Angeles-based investment firm Shamrock Capital Advisors in a deal reportedly worth more than $300 million.


The deal was the latest in the feud between Swift and Scooter Braun, who reportedly sold her recordings for a second time without giving her a chance to purchase them.


"This was the second time my music has been sold without my knowledge," Swift said in a tweet. "The letter told me that they wanted to reach out before the sale to let me know, but that Scooter Braun had required that they make no contact with me or my team, or the deal would be off."


Similar to how big bucks are being spent to acquire shows, movies and podcasts, it's clear deep pockets are now moving into the music publishing space as artists look to unload their catalogs.


Leftover Crumbs

  • Cryptocurrency funds hit record AUM. $429 million moved into cryptocurrency funds through yesterday, pushing assets under management to an all-time high of $15 billion, according to digital asset manager CoinShares. Assets under management totaled just $2.57 billion at the end of last year. "On an anecdotal level, based on our client conversations over the course of 2020, we have seen a decisive shift from enquiries of a speculative nature to those that begin with comments such as, 'bitcoin is here to stay, please help us understand it,'" CoinShares investment strategist James Butterfill said. "Given the levels of interest, this suggests we are only on the cusp of institutional adoption rather than it cooling down."

  • BlackRock raises equities to overweight. In its 2021 outlook, BlackRock, which is the world's largest asset manager, has raised equities to overweight from neutral while also downgrading global investment grade debt and U.S. Treasurys to underweight. "The big change around the outlook itself is upgrading risk assets overall and seeing 2021 as a very constructive year for risk assets," BlackRock chief investment strategist Mike Pyle said. "We see 2021 as a really powerful year for the restart, in terms of economic activity, but also importantly a year where we're going to see central banks hold interest rates within a pretty tight range."

  • Rolls-Royce sells its I&C business. Rolls-Royce, which has seen its business severely affected by COVID-19, has sold its civil nuclear instrumentation and control business to French engineering company Framatome for an undisclosed sum. The sale marks the first in a series of moves the company has promised to make in order to raise more than 2 billion pounds from selling off units. "This transaction marks a further simplification of our business and contributes towards our target to generate over 2 billion pounds from disposals," Rolls-Royce CEO Warren East said.

  • Cisco makes acquisition for CXaaS offering. Cisco announced it has agreed to acquire cloud communications software and services provider IMImobile in a $730 million cash deal. Cisco will integrate IMImobile's offerings into its own to create a "comprehensive Customer Experience as a Service (CXaaS) offer that gives businesses the ability to deliver consistently enjoyable and rich customer experiences." Cisco expects the deal to close in the first quarter of 2021.

  • IKEA discontinues the IKEA Catalog. IKEA announced it will discontinue its iconic IKEA Catalog after 70 years as the company acknowledges the "times are changing" as consumers shift to e-commerce. At its peak in 2016, 200 million copies of the IKEA Catalog were distributed in 32 languages. "IKEA has become more digital and accessible while embracing new ways to connect with more people," IKEA said. "Customer behavior and media consumption has changed, and the IKEA Catalog has been less used." IKEA said it will honor the IKEA Catalog by releasing a book in the fall of 2021.