To make a splash in the music catalog acquisition game these days, you better come with a unique strategy.
After all, giants of the financial space – be it KKR, Blackstone, Apollo and others – are now out there bankrolling nine and even ten-figure music rights buyouts.
Olivier Chastan knows this world well: He was previously CEO at Irving Azoff’s Iconic Artists Group, which last year acquired catalogs from the likes of the Beach Boys, David Crosby, and Linda Ronstadt.
Today (February 4), Chastan has taken the wraps off his own acquisitive vehicle – Los Angeles-based Iconoclast – with a headline-grabbing rights deal already signed and sealed.
Iconoclast has purchased Robbie Robertson’s music publishing and NIL (name, image & likeness) rights, plus his recorded music interests, covering his career to date.
Robertson wrote and played on a run of hits for legendary rock group The Band, including The Weight, The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down and Up On Cripple Creek.
Robertson also produced the genre-defining concert film The Last Waltz, directed by Martin Scorsese, and has additionally cultivated a storied career as a solo artist, film composer, producer, author, and actor.
(One anomaly: The underlying publishing rights to The Band’s 1968 debut album were owned by Bob Dylan, and acquired by Universal as part of its Dylan catalog buyout in 2020; Robertson retained the writer’s share.)
Olivier Chastan tells MBW that Iconoclast has heavyweight financial backing.
When we probingly suggest out loud that his company can “compete with or even exceed” the funding of any of the large M&A players in today’s music market, Chastan replies: “I know of the recent fundraises, and that statement is factually correct.”
This is a big comment: We don’t need to remind you that the likes of Blackstone (via Hipgnosis) – amongst others – have committed a billion dollars-plus to music acquisitions in recent months.
(MBW’s sources tell us that Iconoclast is being backed by Pimco, which has over $2 trillion in assets under management. Chastan refuses to comment on that suggestion.)
To be frank, Chastan seems rather disinterested in talking about Iconoclast’s spending power.
The US-based French executive is much more energized by discussing Iconoclast’s strategy, which he says will be differentiated from many in the market via its focus on “managing the overall brand and legacy of an artist, not just their music rights”.
Since Chastan quietly launched Iconoclast last fall, he says the company has completed five separate music rights acquisitions.
Chastan adds that Iconoclast has a “strong focus on technology”, including immersive entertainment and blockchain.
He comments: “We want to drive the conversion to make legacy artists relevant in the future of entertainment.”
“We want to drive the conversion to make legacy artists relevant in the future of entertainment.”
Olivier Chastan, Iconoclast
This approach manifested in an NFT sale last month, which saw Iconoclast partner with electronic music icon Giorgio Moroder and RM Sotheby’s.
That partnership led to the sale of a “supercar plus NFT” package, including the original 1988 Cizeta-Moroder supercar owned and inspired by Moroder.
The package sold at auction in Arizona in late January for USD $1.36 million, exceeding Iconoclast’s initial expectations.
As part of the Robbie Robertson deal, reveals Chastan, The Band musician has joined Iconoclast’s board – a signal, says the exec, of the closeness that his company is looking to strike with legendary artists and songwriters.
Says Chastan of Robertson: “My passion for Robbie’s music started when I first heard Music From Big Pink as a 13 year-old kid. His sophisticated and cinematic songs changed my life and have never left my musical universe.
“Our partnership with Robbie illustrates our commitment to preserving and growing culturally significant art into the future. Our focus on innovative brand development and emerging technology ensures that existing and new fans will continue to experience Robbie’s incredible music over the years.
“I’m also delighted to welcome Robbie as a creative advisor to Iconoclast where he will contribute his invaluable taste and artistic insights.”
“Olivier’s deep appreciation for art and creativity infused with his vision for the future of entertainment convinced me that Iconoclast was the right partner to entrust with the legacy of The Band and my catalog.”
Robbie Robertson added: “Olivier’s deep appreciation for art and creativity infused with his vision for the future of entertainment convinced me that Iconoclast was the right partner to entrust with the legacy of The Band and my catalog”.
Peter Paterno and Michael Rexford of King, Holmes, Paterno & Soriano, LLP represented Iconoclast, and Gary Stiffelman of GSS Law represented Robbie Robertson in the transaction.Music Business Worldwide