By Jem Aswad
LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) – Bruce Springsteen is in talks to sell the rights to his recorded music to Sony Music as well as its publishing catalog, three sources tell Variety. While the deal on the album catalog is nearing completion, according to some sources, the release catalog remains on the line. The news was first reported by Billboard.
While Springsteen has worked for Sony Music’s Columbia Records since his first signing with the label in 1972, he acquired the rights to his music as part of a contract renegotiation at some point in his career; such movements are rarely reported but become evident in the fine print of a press release.
Selling the rights to their music is anathema to many artists, but when they reach or exceed normal retirement age and start planning their succession, a sale is an attractive option – especially today when song catalogs reach ratings that were previously unimaginable and that artists take into account the realities of leaving their heirs with a precious but cumbersome possession; song catalogs in particular require extensive management to maximize their value.
Bob Dylan is both the most notable and the most lucrative example of this: over the past two years he has donated his personal archives to the creation of the Bob Dylan Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and sold the last year his catalog of songs at Universal Music Publishing for a sum according to sources was close to 400 million dollars.
This may also be the case with Springsteen, whose combined album and song catalogs are estimated at between $ 330 million and $ 415 million, according to Billboard.
Another strong push to sell is the expected increase in capital gains taxes, with Democrats holding both the White House and the House of Representatives until at least 2023.
Sources told Variety the talks have been going on for several months; representatives for Springsteen, Sony Music and Sony Music Publishing declined or did not respond to requests for comment.
Springsteen, of course, is one of the most successful recording artists of the past 50 years, with 65.5 million album sales in the United States alone, according to the RIAA, and a vast catalog of songs that generates hundreds, if not thousands of retakes each year. . Billboard estimated that the Springsteen album catalog generated around $ 15 million in revenue in 2020, and that its publishing catalog brings in around $ 7.5 million per year.
Over the decades, Springsteen and his nearly 50-year-old manager Jon Landau have been shrewd businessmen: in addition to lucrative contracts for his publishing and recorded music, Springsteen is one of the groups highest-grossing touring tour in history, grossing more than $ 840 million in touring dollars between 2010 and 2019, according to Pollstar – a decade of a career spanning nearly 60 years. Additionally, the Springsteen team sells dozens of archival live recordings on their website, which they own the rights to and bypass the record labels altogether.
However, he apparently chose a more lucrative option for his official discography and song catalog. Variety will have more of this situation as it develops.
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