The 1960’s and 70’s brought us great protest songs. The Vietnam War was a dominant musical theme in the ’60s and ’70s. Antiwar songs was the centerpiece at the Woodstock festival in 1969. Music can change the world and it did. Music was the most powerful means of voicing opposition. Artists were protesting against a war and rallied for international peace.
But with all the divisiness today, where are the protest songs? Today, a protest more or less looks like a cringeworthy rant on social media from laymen.
In 60’s and 70’s there was a red line between the artist class and the ruling class. Today, the creative community have aligned themselves with the political class which also includes the big tech billionaires who run Facebook, Google, Twitter and Youtube.
Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins notes, “I mean, there’s friction against one political party, but there doesn’t really seem to be a counterculture, which is kind of strange.”
Where is the friction and the divide? Nobody is raging against the machine. Has the machine become too powerful to rage against? I don’t know, but let it face the music – a proven enemy!
Why are artists selling off song catalogues? For a few reasons. Global music sales hit an all time low in 2013. Then Spotify arrived on the scene that catapulted classic songs to almost a 153% increase. Streaming has accounted for nearly 80% of the music market.
Right now, music publishing is at its peak. It’s the right time for well known established artists to sell their rights when deals are being doing at 20 times value. Also, deals are being done quickly with Joe Biden aiming to significantly raise capital gains tax for composers whose songs sell for more than $1m.
Stevie Nicks, Barry Manilow, Blondie, Chrissie Hynde, Dave Stewart of Eurythmics, the Killers and Imagine Dragons have sold their rights. Everyone knows that Bob Dylan sold his songs for hundreds of millions.
It’s also worth mentioning that the pandemic has fueled these deals as live gigs and tours have come to a halt. This is a billion-dollar market that is off the table.
Entertainment is a winner takes all market and the legendary artists are seeing the highest deals.
Other songwriters have a different perspective. Legendary songwriter Diane Warren says she would never sell off her catalogue. She said it would be like selling her soul which is not for sale. Warren notes, “The money being offered is insane but there is no amount of money that could ever make me do that. It’s like selling your kids or something. It’s so weird since someone like Dylan doesn’t need the money.”
Will artist regret selling off their most prized possession? That’s the big unknown.
While artists were holding back releasing albums until touring could resume, that seems to be no longer the case. With no end sight of the pandemic, artists have no choice but to release albums. Taylor Swift just dropped another surprise album Evermore. It’s an extension of her previous release Folkore. Like her last album, Evermore had no promotion. But what is promotion nowadays if you can’t tour?
It’s a far cry when Taylor partnered with UPS and had delivery vans drive through the streets of New York, Atlanta and Nashville plastered with posters advertising her new album. She spent months promoting 1989 prior to the release doing multiple interviews, performances and discussing her album on TV shows.
Tay has left a profound message to her Swifties, “I have no idea what will come next. I have no idea about a lot of things these days and so I’ve clung to the one thing that keeps me connected to you all. That thing always has and always will be music. And may it continue, evermore. My new album evermore is out now.
And may I leave with you this: I say truly, through tough times, music shall prevail and ’tis the ultimate connection ‘twixt thyself and the audience.
Bob Dylan sells his songwriting catalog to Universal Music, the largest acquisition ever of a single act’s publishing rights. The price of purchase is estimated at $300M.
Why did Dylan sell his catalog? For many reasons, but the biggest reason right now is the pandemic. Artists can’t tour and publishing deal prices are at historic highs.
Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks sold a majority stake in her publishing catalog, which valued it at $100 million. What does this mean for Bob Dylan? He can no longer benefit financially from the use of the songs. Universal Music Publishing Group is the now the beneficiary of all future earnings. Representing Mr. Dylan’s work “is both a privilege and a responsibility,” said Universal Music Publishing Group chief Jody Gerson.
Dylan has sold more than 125 million records globally.
The all-too-common tale between the rise and the fall between the manager, the artist, and fan popularity. When things are great, it’s premiers, red carpet moments, and The Met Galas. When circumstances turn nasty, the fingers begin pointing. Such as the case between Pat the Manager and Chance The Rapper.
Chance The Rapper is being sued by his long time manager PatCorcoran (Pat The Manager LLC) for $3 Million in unpaid commissions. The music manager was replaced by the rappers father and brother.
According to the suit, Chance fired the long time manager after a lackluster release of his first studio album ‘The Big Day‘ released last year. The tour was forced to cancel over poor ticket sales.
Why was Pat The Manager axed? Because of a mediocre album that was written by Chance that wasn’t received well by the public.
The long time manager was part of the 8 years rise of Chance. The story created around Chance is that he’s an independent rapper who made it without the support of a major record label.
This industry liked the underdog story and handed the rapper three Grammy awards in 2017. Plus, it gives the Grammys credibility. It shows the public the award show isn’t rigged by propping up an artist who isn’t backed by a major. This is all a sideshow folks.
According to Pat The Manager, he pumped lots of money into Chance and wants it back. He had an oral agreement with Chance that he would get 15% of net income.
What happened? According to the manager, Chance rushed the process, and put out a mediocre record in an untimely manner. Then the tour flopped following the album release. I find it interesting how the successful DYI independent rapper of 8 years failed to generate any interest from the fans after a mediocre album release. Typically, fans stick around. That’s if there was a legitimate fan base of course to begin with. In this business, you don’t what know what’s real or bull.
According to the manager Chance’s family members started guiding the rapper who have little experience. Managers are all to familiar with scenario when Aunt Gertrude gets involved and the Brother Billie starts making decisions. The days are numbered and the exit strategy begins.
The manager is asking for 1) The reimbursement of $2.5m personal expenditure on Chance’s career 2) the $3m he says he is owed for past unpaid commissions; 3) 15% of Chance’s net profit (recording, merch, and touring) for three years aftering his firing.