The rock stars who sold their catalogs at the top appear to have outwitted the bankers
When I saw 'Hipgnosis' I came to a full stop - the insanely talented group of London designers who gave 70s album covers their sense of style? They designed 'Dark Side of the Moon' among others you would recognize. Alas, this just seems to be a group of grubby MBAs whose name is
Hipgnosis Song Fund. Apparently they can't even come up with an original name.
For many, maybe most, success in the music biz was a long community building process. You slowly built a following in local clubs, expanding to regional (when you could start paying rent on cover receipts) and maybe national. You educated and communicated with your base supporters along they way, slowly building... It was a natural evolution that resulted in many substantial, meaningful compositions.
If you take out all the noise (media, social media, agent/promoter bs), it’s still the mostly same, except musicians control more of the go-to-maket process - good. And the royalties- which is a mess, but it will work out. All good.
>>maybe via Web3 initiatives or other alternative music distribution platforms.
Please stop trotting out the latest tech terms like this, it's embarrassing as it indicates you haven't done any technical analysis and are purely playing fast follower on the social proof front.
While this is a powerful force, it's also often wrong, as this post itself demonstrates. I do understand the need to do it, in order to sound "relevant", but you should have just said new music distribution platforms and alternative business models, which keeps it technology-agnostic & hype free.
I was asked the other day "I’ll give you 10 seconds to explain what Web3 is. Can you do it?"
Yes, I can.
Web3 is pushing a shit technology uphill with a VC pitchfork.
The grift is neatly encapsulated by this video https://twitter.com/liron/status/1568306093771886598?s=20&t=DP32HFJQRup1aYCQs9q6HQ
You can be a terrible artist and a great financial prognosticator, or you can be a great artist and a terrible financial prognosticator, or, like a few, you can be great at both. But if you're a bust out at both, someone's taking it in the shorts. Hipgnosis got spanked. It's terribly difficult for me to feel really bad about it too.
"Whether your tastes turn to Neil Young or the Chainsmokers or Barry Manilow, they control the songs the whole world sings." Well done, well done. Bravo!
i don't listen to anything post Bach
One passage made me think of something analogous, which my edits highlight: "The major [energy companies] should have been building the future of the [energy] business, not trying to squeeze more cash from the past. We will now all pay a price for their failure of imagination." That is, the same logic kept the fossil-fuel companies investing in fossil fuels to "squeeze more cash from the past" instead of investing in a future of sustainable energy sources.
It is indeed odd to see record labels and music publishers who in many cases made every possible attempt to minimize or even ignore their royalty payments dumping hundreds of million dollars into song and artist catalogs. Possibly some of these people think that placing, for example, Paul Simon songs in movies or commercials will amortize their costs. When the price hits hundreds of millions of dollars for a single catalog, this doesn't seem like a sensible course. I would expect to see these companies make deals with the endless number of cable TV channels, but forcing a director to use these songs seems like a poor risk. I don't know how these deals can be justified. Allegedly Kate Bush is earning huge amounts of money, like 50,000 pounds a week, as her song Running Up That Hill becomes a TV theme song =, and a hit recording. Even this freak event is going to eventually slow down. The overhead in these deals is not sustainable. Kudos to Kate, who owns the recorded performance, is the song's writer, and owns her publishing.
Ted are you sure you mean "Blackstone" and not BlackRock? Please clarify, thanks.
Can't comment on such high finance–beyond my pay grade.
However, I'm not so sure I'd write "old songs" off just yet. Don't forget, there is always a new generation, and the reason old songs appealed in the first place might come into play for the new crowd. Or, less charitably, let's call it the "P. T. Barnum Effect."
Giving the rapid decline in public interest in rock music buying old rock catalogues was indeed a strange investment decision.
Oh dear. My knee jerk thought reading this was, "When a company finds itself with goods that are dropping in value, what does it do? It sells off its assets as fast as it can." Can you imagine if they followed in the footsteps of fine art and sold off individual songs, or even shares of a song, to the public? Royalty nightmare hell. Though, I'd be sorely tempted to put in dibs for Rhiannon...
Thanks for this. When all business abandons innovation except the hifi conquer/plunder model, there's soon nothing left from which to prosper.
I don't agree with your point that it is so weird that old music is prioritised over new music. Classical music, for example, is anchored to the standards of a theoretical golden age from mostly 1750-1920. Same with jazz.
I feel that it is happening the same with popular (especially rock) music: it is becoming more and more anchored to the standards of a golden era. In that sense, it makes sense to invest on these standards.
The problem with such business model is that it feels weird to invest so much money in music that will lose copyright relatively soon. It is as if Hipgnosis is betting that big media companies will manage to change copyright laws to protect their moat.
Another excellent article Sir. We’re in a bad place with new music, no matter how much some like to paint it positive. Simply put, it will never be as it was without investment but I’d be interested in exactly how Web 3 can change things - we might be waiting a long time to see the results of that though.
I read about abiogenic oil. Is that theory true? Who knows. But I do know that old pop tunes have no intrinsic value.