The Ins and Outs of Music Catalog Sales, Explained by the Experts

·2-min read

For this week’s edition of Variety‘s “Strictly Businesspodcast. we’re bringing you a panel discussion from the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills on May 4.

Titled “Drop the Mic: The Business of Music,” I was joined on stage by four incredibly knowledgable music industry professionals (pictured, from left): Marc Cimino, chief operating officer of Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG); Sherrese Clarke Soares, founder and CEO of HarbourView Equity Partners; Harvey Mason jr., CEO of the Recording Academy and a noted songwriter and producer who’s worked with the likes of Whitney Houston, Elton John and Justin Bieber; and Scott Pascucci, CEO of Concord and a Grammy-winning producer for the Ron Howard-directed 2016 documentary, “The Beatles: Eight Days a Week.”

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On the agenda: the booming business of catalog sales, which has seen the likes of Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Paul Simon cash out for paydays in the hundreds of millions of dollars and multiples of more than 20 times current market value.

Indeed, In 2021, investors spent $5.3 billion on acquisitions of recorded music catalogs, publishing and other royalties. According to Midia Research, that’s up 180% from 2020.

What driving Wall street’s interest in songs as assets? And will these deals pay off for the institutional investors backing them? How does the growth of music streaming services impact overall song consumption and the dollars — or more likely, cents — that trickle down to musicians and songwriters?

We also talk about the archaic laws that govern music copyrights and royalties, and we look ahead of the future, and ask: will the popularity of NFTs among music enthusiasts offer a new way for fans to directly support their favorite artists?

This year’s Milken Institute Global Conference brought together some 120 sessions under the theme “Celebrating the Power of Connection.” The morning of the music business panel, speakers shared a greenroom with the likes of Goldie Hawn, Deepak Chopra, Gwyneth Paltrow and Don Cheadle as they tacked topics on “finding calm” and “building a meaningful life.” You can find all the conference talks at the organization’s website.

For this podcast, because there are multiple voices in this recording, you’ll be hearing the speakers in this order: Harvey Mason jr.; Sherrese Clarke Soares; Scott Pascucci; and Marc Cimino.

Listen below or wherever you get your podcasts.

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