Are Musicians Falling for the Song and Dance When They Sell Their Catalog?

Photo: AFP

The recent cash-grab trend among musicians is to sell their catalog for a pile of money. Katy Perry sold her song rights on Monday for a reported $225 million. Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Stevie Nicks, Chrissie Hynde and Neil Young are on the list of classic rockers who have sold part or all of their catalogs in recent years for staggering sums. Sal Cirrincione is the senior director of rock programming at Premiere Radio Networks. He appeared on 710 WOR’s Len Berman and Michael Riedel in the Morning program to discuss who’s buying up song catalogs- and why.

“So, who’s buying it are a lot of these big publishing companies,” Cirrincione told Berman and newsman Larry Mendte, sitting in for a vacationing Riedel. “Universal Music (has) a publishing division; so does Sony. But then you have these other groups that are extensions of hedge funds, and basically, there are a lot of people that are hedging their bets that this music will, indeed, make back what they’ve invested, if not more, in the years to come.”

Ultimately, Cirrincione says the buyers are convinced they can license the music enough times over to make the purchase price look like chump change. “Dylan got somewhere in the $400 million range, Springsteen, about $500 million. I mean, they’re hedging their bets that that earlier music is what’s going to still ring up cash registers and get retailers wanting to use them in their commercials, and you do see a lot of this music in commercials, and you do hear it in movies.”

Cirrincione says not every musician is sold on the idea, however. “I interviewed Don McLean last year, and he begs to differ. He feels that (the artists) are being robbed. He said that, and this is a quote, ‘Universal Music is not going to give Bob Dylan a gift. They don’t do that… They know that, if they pay $400 million for something, it’s worth a billion. They know that; they’re not stupid. This is their business’.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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