Headlines featuring iconic artists striking big-money catalog deals have become a common occurrence in the annual music business news cycle.
Less common, however, are legendary artists publicly confirming that they will not be selling their music rights.
One such artist is Sir Mick Jagger, the frontman of the British rock and roll band The Rolling Stones, who discussed this subject in a very rare interview with The Wall Street Journal this week.
Jagger was asked by the newspaper if he and his band ever intended to offload their post-1971 catalog.
His answer? No – but he hinted at an altruistic alternative: Donate the catalog to charity.
Jagger told the WSJ that “the children don’t need $500 million to live well. Come on.” He added: “You maybe do some good in the world”.
His interview with the WSJ arrives in the same week that The Rolling Stones release the second single, Sweet Sounds of Heaven from their upcoming album Hackney Diamonds, set to be released on October 20 via Geffen Records.
Sweet Sounds of Heaven features a vocal performance by Lady Gaga, alongside Stevie Wonder on Fender Rhodes, Moog and piano.
Jagger’s comments follow a flurry of big-money catalog deals over the past three years with a number of iconic acts.
Prior to the news of Springsteen’s deal with Sony, one of the previous biggest single artist catalog deals was struck for the publishing rights of Bob Dylan, which Universal Music bought for a sum, expert industry sources suggest, was somewhere in the region of $300 million to $400 million.
In January 2021, Hipgnosis Songs Fund acquired 50% of the worldwide copyright and income interests in Neil Young’s entire song catalog, comprising 1,180 compositions. Industry experts suggest that the deal would have cost Hipgnosis in the region of $150 million.
In January 2022, Warner Music Group, via its Warner Chappell Music subsidiary, acquired the global music publishing rights to David Bowie’s song catalog. The price of the deal was agreed at upwards of $250 million.
Two of this year’s biggest music rights deals for the catalogs of single artists arrived in January and September, from Justin Bieber and Katy Perry, respectively.
Katy Perry sold a bundle of music rights to $500 million-backed Litmus Music, whose deal with Perry, which industry sources suggest was worth around $225 million, marked this year’s biggest catalog deal with a single artist. The deal spans Perry’s five studio albums recorded for Capitol Records, including the Grammy-nominated Teenage Dream.
Litmus now owns the artist’s stake in her master royalty income and her publishing rights to the albums One of the Boys, Teenage Dream, PRISM, Witness, and Smile – all released between 2008 and 2020 Universal Music Group continues to own and/or control the master rights to the Capitol albums.
In January, we reported that Justin Bieber had agreed to sell a career-spanning catalog to Blackstone-backed Hipgnosis Songs Capital (HSC) in a nine-figure deal. The Wall Street Journal reported in December 2022 that the Hipgnosis/Bieber deal would be worth around USD $200 million. Bieber’s deal also included his publishing plus master royalty income.
The Rolling Stones aren’t the only superstar act with no plans to sell their music rights of course.
David Furnish, CEO of Rocket Entertainment, plus Sir Elton John’s long-term partner (and husband) and his manager for the past six years, told MBW in an interview that it would be “unthinkable” for Elton to sell his catalog.
“At this stage, it’s unthinkable,” said Furnish, without hesitation. “The thought of giving up that control in connection with your art… no.”
Music Business Worldwide