The Brag Media
News December 11, 2020

Like always, the money is in the song [Op Ed]

Senior Journalist, B2B
Like always, the money is in the song [Op Ed]
There was a time, an age ago, when the record business was going gangbusters, shifting pieces of plastic.
When all that went south, live music became solid rock. You couldn’t steal live, was one of the cute buzz-phrases. People will pay for experiences. Then, COVID.
The history of the modern music industry informs us, there’s nothing as robust as the song itself. Copyrights, catalogues. A great song will feed you, and your family, outlive you. Artists refer to their songs as their children, and they fight for them.
Write a few dozen of the special ones, that’s the job we all want.
A song catalogue is your investment portfolio, your second property and your retirement package. It should flick money into your coffers through the year, and grow over time, depending on how it’s managed and countless other, unpredictable factors (fall foul with cancel culture and you might see diminishing returns).
Behind the scenes, big money is still put on the table for the songs. Merck Mercuriadis’ Hipgnosis Songs Fund has spent a billion in rapid time, snapping up catalogues to play with the big fellas.
Despite COVID, despite everything that has conspired against artists in 2020, great songs are more valuable now than ever before.

Credit: Sarah Bryant

Just ask Bob Dylan.
This week, Dylan sold his entire catalogue of songs to Universal Music Publishing Group, in what’s been described as the biggest deal ever for a single songwriter. The BBC and others are putting the sale price in the US$200-$450 million ballpark.
In the background, president-elect Joe Biden is proposing tax changes that could lift capital gains tax for composers whose songs attract a sale price-tag over $1 million.
The rush to buy and sell is on.
Also this week, Keith Shocklee announced the sale of his classic rap catalogue, which includes worked recorded by Public Enemy, Ice Cube, LL Cool J, and Prophets Of Rage. And Hall of Famer David Crosby is testing the waters which, he points out, have been muddied by streaming and COVID.
“I am selling mine also… I can’t work …and streaming stole my record money,” tweeted the veteran rocker, a longtime critic of on-demand platforms. “I have a family and a mortgage and I have to take care of them so it’s my only option… I’m sure the others feel the same.”
Nurture those songs. They could be worth something, could be worth a lot. Your hit from 35 years ago could get a miraculous lift thanks to pisstaking football fans on the other side of the planet. And like any asset, consider selling if and when the price is right.
All of which hammers home the point: in a pandemic, in a period of disruption, the money is still in the song. Always has been, always will be.

This article originally appeared on The Industry Observer, which is now part of The Music Network.


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