Why are Iconic Songwriters selling their Publishing Rights?



The Beach Boys are the latest in a long line of iconic music stars who have all been in the news for the same reason recently:



Stevie Nicks, Bob Dylan, Neil Young and several others have each sold their publishing rights for hundreds of millions of dollars (in the case of the Beach Boys the deal included their image and brand rights).


And it’s not just old superstars; there are many current artists whose rights are being snapped up, too.


Why are these deals being done?

These artists wrote iconic songs that have been the soundtrack to people’s lives.


They each own the songwriting copyrights to a lot of incredibly famous songs. And songwriting copyrights last for 70 years after the death of the writer.


So although the artists may be coming to the end of their careers, their work can carry on making money for a long time into the future.


From the artists perspective, it makes sense to cash in big today by selling the rights to all these future copyright earnings.


David Bowie first pioneered this general approach in 1997 - he used so-called 'Bowie Bonds' to raise $55 million (when that was a lot of money :)



On the flip side of the deal, private equity firms like Hipgnosis and Primary Wave who are investing many hundreds of millions of dollars today do so because they know the long term value of the songs is not in question.


They are making these investments with a clear expectation of greatly increased monetisation over those coming decades.


All very interesting - but how does it affect my music mix?

Well - having invested many hundreds of millions of dollars in song copyrights, these companies are not going to just sit back and relax.


They are looking at how they can hit the ground running and start to earn back as much as possible of that investment right away.


There are two ways this will impact you and your music mix:


They will start to come down hard on infringement.

Just one record label, Sony Music, caused huge disruption to Cheerleading when they sued the US governing body, event producers, and music producers.


This time there are likely to be several companies looking to come after infringers, and it is a worldwide issue that is not restricted to the USA only.


So be prepared to prove that you have the publishing rights from every songwriter on each song you use in your mix; rights that allow you to edit and adapt the songs into your mix, choreograph and perform a routine to the songs, and ensure that the rights are available to use online, in live streams, and video on demand.


Click here for a more detailed explanation about publishing rights, how they are licensed, and the complexity of licensing from the potentially large number of writers who can be involved in the creation of each song.


If that all sounds a bit daunting, don’t worry - every track on ClicknClear already has all these publishing rights included in the price of our license, so you don’t need to do a thing when you use our music to make your mix.


We even have online tools that help both you and event producers prove that you have licensed the rights.


You will start being able to use more of these awesome songs in your mix.

When songs are owned by their creators, they are treated like their ‘babies’ - they are precious works of art and the writers can understandably be very picky about how, if at all, they are used by others.


In some of the 600+ deals we have with music industry record labels and publishers, certain artists and writers are listed as ‘restricted,’ meaning that as much as we and you want to use their work in sports and fitness routines, they won’t let us. And it is their right to decide that.


But, with people who need to make money quickly now owning the songs, these restrictions will likely be lifted. We expect that sports mixes, marching band and fitness will increasingly get access to some of the currently restricted writers.


Ultimately, these big-money deals you are seeing in the news could end up being very good news for you and your music mix!

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