Ultimate Resource On Music Catalog Deals
Springsteen Sells Album Catalog To Sony In $500m Deal. Ultimate Resource On Music Catalog Deals
Bruce Springsteen has sold his masters and music publishing to Sony Music and Sony Music Publishing respectively in a deal for a combined total of around $500 million, Billboard reports citing unidentified sources.
The floor price for the combined assets was $350 million. Sony had been in talks to buy the album catalog from the ‘Born in the U.S.A.’ singer-songwriter with Universal Music Publishing conducting the sale, the music publication reported in Nov.
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Springsteen’s manager Jon Landau could not immediately be reached for comment by Billboard, while Sony Music and Sony Music Publishing declined to comment to Billboard.
David Bowie’s Extensive Music Catalog Is Sold To Warner
The extensive music catalog of David Bowie, stretching from the late 1960s to just before his death in 2016, has been sold to Warner Chappell Music.
More than 400 songs, among them “Space Oddity,” “Ziggy Stardust,” “Fame,” “Rebel Rebel” and “Let’s Dance” on 26 Bowie studio albums released during his lifetime, a posthumous studio album release, Toy, two studio albums from Tin Machine, as well as tracks released as singles from soundtracks and other projects, are included.
Financial details of the sale were not released. Warner Chapell is the music publishing wing of Warner Music Group Corp. Bruce Springsteen sold his catalog to Sony Music last month for a reported $500 million. Among others that have sold their catalogs in recent years, either in part or in their entirety, are Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Stevie Nicks.
David Bowie, born David Jones in London in 1947, died in January 2016 after battling cancer for 18 months. As a performer, Bowie had unpredictable range of styles, melding European jadedness with American rhythms and his ever-changing personas and wardrobes.
The gaunt and erudite Bowie brought an open theatricality and androgyny to popular music that changed the very meaning of being a rock star. He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.
Last year Warner Music Group reached a deal with the Bowie estate that gave Warner Music licensed worldwide rights to Bowie’s recorded music catalog from 1968.
The Calculators Behind The Music-Catalog Megadeals
Massarsky Consulting’s team of four economists sold its business after valuing over $6.5 billion worth of music rights last year.
As investors rush to buy megastars’ music catalogs, Barry Massarsky and his firm are in the middle valuing most of the deals.
He pioneered the economics of royalty cash flows in the early 1990s and together with his business partner, Nari Matsuura, developed a model to guide banks lending to music investors.
Last year Massarsky Consulting valued over 300 catalogs totaling more than $6.5 billion. “Our website is deluged with more and more demands from newer buyers, from newer sellers,” he says.
Stars such as Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Nicks and Tina Turner have sold their catalogs to music publishers, publicly traded funds and private-equity firms.
Facing the recent high volume of deals, Mr. Massarsky sold his business this month to professional-services firm Citrin Cooperman for an undisclosed amount.
The growth of streaming and other online activity means song use is on the rise, generating payments to the songwriter and other stakeholders. Film studios, videogame makers and fitness apps as well as radio stations and streaming services pay to license or use songs.
Investors’ deals for music are also more complex. Some are buying the right to collect a certain payment stream while not owning any piece of the underlying copyright. They are also selecting specific copyrights or royalty streams for investments.
The longer a song or a catalog remains popular, the higher the valuation.
Mr. Massarsky, 66 years old, and Ms. Matsuura, 51, spoke with The Wall Street Journal about what goes into valuing an artist’s lifework and what is on the horizon for music investments. Edited excerpts follow:
WSJ: How Has The Client Pool Expanded In Recent Years?
Mr. Massarsky: There are all these new funds, principally backed by private equity. We’re seeing everybody from BlackRock to Blackstone to TPG to Carlyle to Apollo to KKR.
Ms. Matsuura: It’s not just about buying. It’s about what types of rights are you buying. Whoever thought of buying producer rights? Before, people used to shy away from writers’ rights. Now writers’ multiples are just as high as the publishing multiples. Performance income on the recorded music side—one of the funds, that’s all they buy.
WSJ: How Has Music Transformed Into This Alternative Asset?
Ms. Matsuura: There is low volatility in the royalty streams. It almost functions like a bond because you’re getting a regular and predictable cash flow. We know the story of streaming. What we didn’t see happening was that in the last two years, the whole thesis of the music industry being uncorrelated with the rest of the market would really be proven out. Something else that’s fueling this now is alternative licensing platforms, such as Roblox and TikTok. This is the next growth opportunity, while streaming is still going very strong.
WSJ: How Do You Value A Catalog?
Ms. Matsuura: We’ll look at each revenue stream historically because history is the best predictor of the future, and we’ll look at the long-term historical growth or decline, as the case may be, and then the most recent year. We’ll have a long view and a short view. Based on that, we’ll be able to apply growth-rate scenarios.
WSJ: What Makes These Assets Valuable?
Mr. Massarsky: We call them standards. It’s really older music—’60s, ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s. Maybe early 2000s. They have stood the test of time. So many things happen to increase the value of these older songs. There’s more airplay for standards on radio today than ever.
In the last year or two, older songs became the phenomena of streaming. And if that’s not enough, what about music in film and television and commercials? That old sort of great song that helps identify an operative culture or a moment in time. Those songs are trading at higher price points for a sync license opportunity. Music has really rediscovered its past in a commercial way.
WSJ: Is There A Bubble? Are The Prices These Catalogs Fetch Rational?
Ms. Matsuura: If you’ve got strong industry growth, and we have that in streaming and in new license opportunities. It’s based on real organic growth: 26% in streaming. And now you’re talking about all this extra revenue coming in from social-media platforms that have deep pockets. Where’s the bubble if there’s strong fundamentals?
WSJ: What’s The Future Of The Market Looking Like?
Mr. Massarsky: Eventually we’re going to see some consolidation. The investor side is becoming much more sophisticated in their financial instruments, whether there’s more going to the public market, or whether there’s going to be a different limited partner class, or whether there’s going to be interest in SPACs.
WSJ: We’re Seeing Artists Sell Their Life’s Work At The Same Time We See This Broader Fight For Artists To Control And Own Their Work. How Should We Reconcile This?
Ms. Matsuura: One way of managing that tension is to negotiate such that the artist gets to keep a percentage, so they don’t feel like they’re giving away their entire baby.
Mr. Massarsky: There is a class of artists that is successful and wants to monetize their assets and prepare themselves for the future. They are giving up the risk of anything that will happen to their future royalty streams by getting their money today.
The investors are taking that risk on because they see the opportunity value going forward. That’s a pretty sophisticated business thought, and it isn’t always on the minds of many younger artists who are frankly just a bit more concerned about fairness and equity.
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