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The Biggest Music Catalog Sales Of The Last Year

Musicians have been making news recently for the enormous deals they’ve been making to sell the rights to their catalogs of songs. Here are the biggest music catalog sales from the previous year.



Recently, musicians have made headlines for the substantial agreements they have reached to sell the rights to their song libraries. Selling the rights to their songs, or the right to publish their music has a lot of benefits for artists – especially in this age of the global pandemic when tours and merch sales have ground to a complete halt. Over the past two years, selling music collections has offered songwriters a profitable option. Instead of risking the chance that their songs will keep making money for them, songwriters can get paid right away for their effort. Despite taking on the risk, purchasers of the repertoire stand to profit via licensing, merchandise, and other chances to have their music played.

The value of music catalogs is skyrocketing thanks to music streaming services like Spotify, Pandora, and Apple Music. For owners of song catalogs, licensing offers a particularly attractive cash opportunity. Because popular shows like “The Office” or “Grey’s Anatomy” are repeated across online platforms, numerous broadcast and cable networks, and more, a song that is used on one of those shows can offer a steady cash stream. Selling a music catalog also has a number of significant tax advantages.


Hipgnosis Songs Fund and Primary Wave are the two companies that are primarily responsible for the current surge in catalog sales, and they are revolutionizing the music business. Traditionally, recording rights for music are split between the musician/performer and record labels, with publishing rights going to publishers and songwriters. However, during the past 12 months, these two businesses have been purchasing the rights to the catalogs of other artists, including Stevie Nicks, Fleetwood Mac, John Lennon, Ryan Tedder, Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, 50 Cent, Nelly, Shakira, and many more.

The firms may now collect the money from royalties, licensing, branding, and other revenue streams that would have previously gone to the artist by purchasing the music catalogs. In 2020, Hipgnosis had a tremendous year. Richie Sambora, Mark Ronson, Jack Antonoff, Rick James, Barry Manilow, Blondie, and Tom DeLonge were among the musicians whose music the business purchased the rights to. It acquired the publication rights to 33,000 songs from Kobalt Music Copyrights in November 2020, including popular songs by Skillrex, 50 Cent, Nelly, and Christina Perri. To Concord Music Group, Imagine Dragons paid nine figures for the publishing rights. Calvin Harris sold Vine Alternative Investments his catalog. Shamrock Capital purchased the rights from Scooter Braun to Taylor Swift’s Big Machine library (without her approval). Eldridge, a Connecticut-based financial firm, purchased The Killers’ library. Stevie Knicks sold the majority of her back catalog to Primary Wave in December 2020.

Since of the buyer, Tedder’s deal in particular is intriguing because it portends the entry of Wall Street firms and the beginning of a brand-new era in music library buying.

The biggest music catalog sales from the previous year are listed here (roughly). Although the terms of the deals were frequently not made public, we are certain of who had the largest contract of them all. Hipgnosis spent $700 million to acquire 42 catalogs just between March 2019 and March 2020 and $670 million from March 2020 to September 2020 for rights to more than 44,000 songs. In essence, everyone on this list made a ton of cash.

$100 million for Stevie Nicks

$150 million for Neil Young

$200 million for Ryan Tedder

Taylor Swift – $300 million (Scooter Braun, not Swift, profited from this sale).

Robert Dylan: $400 million

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