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Thursday, January 07, 2021

Comment of the Moment: Neil Young Sells Song Catalog Stake For $150,000,000*

Neil Young's 1988 "This Note's for You"

The surprisingly unsurprising news that Neil Young has negotiated a deal for his song catalog brought about the usual rustie range of reactions.

The  $150,000,000*  figure seems somewhat in dispute, however this BBC News headline cites the 9 digit figure.

From Billboard:

The terms of this deal weren’t disclosed, but industry sources have said that Young wanted a multiple higher than 30 times net publishers’ share, or gross profit. Since Young owns both the writers share and the publishers share of his compositions, that would mean about 30 times the annual revenue the catalog brings in, which Billboard estimates at about $3 million to $3.5 million. That implies a valuation of between $90 million and $105 million, although it’s unclear if Young received that from Hipgnosis. 

A Hipgnosis spokesperson says that, as part of the agreement, it cannot discuss terms.

Young’s catalog was first shopped around with the condition that any deal would allow Young to retain control of the use of his songs, according to sources, a provision that would make it harder for Hipgnosis to grow revenue. Since this deal involves half of Young’s writers share and half of his publishers share, according to a Hipgnosis spokesperson, “they both approve synchs,” which are necessary to use songs in movies, shows, and commercials.

 

The  Comment of the Moment on Neil Young Sells Song Catalog Stake For $150,000,000 by Owen "Palace in the Sun":

Good for you, Neil! 

WHY NOT??? He has earned every dime he can make, IMO! I've paid for albums, cassettes (sorry no 8 Tracks), CD's, DVD's, Archives, Books, Subscriptions to NYA (yes more than one) and anything I can from Neil and the Lads! Isn't that "entertainment"? We were lucky to live in the Golden Age of Rock 'n' Roll, when technology was an infant but the Music was King! It was / is REAL, Live Music! 

If you don't like it, don't buy it! The Fireside / Barnyard sessions showed that this man has it, always will and will 'til he's gone (But Not Forgotten)! That will be an extremely sad day! 

Long May you Run Lad's & Lasses!

Peace!!
Owen
Palace in the Sun

Thanks for the comment Owen "Palace in the Sun". Pretty much exactly what you say: "why not"? If not not now, when?  If not a deal to lock in value, then what other option?  If not selling to an operation with large cash reserves then who?

"gotta watch out for the greedy hand
the greedy hand"

 

Yesterday, in reaction, we commented the following:

thanks everyone on this difficult subject today.

to be clear here, we do not necessarily fault Neil with going this route.

What we have a major problem with is that essentially the business model that got him to where he is today has failed him. That's not his fault as much as it is the idiots in the music business who allowed Corps like Apple & AMZ to take away their business.

This didn't have to happen this way and was predicted long ago by many of us if things didn't change.

And now it is too late.

so yes, Neil is right to take the best deal he can on his own terms while he still can.

Presumably creating a future revenue stream for his son Ben especially.

if this arrangement keeps NYA going in perpetuity, then so be it.

yes, the music will always live, for sure. but we'll be back to folks who are committed to the art form standing on a corner w/ their open instrument case trying to make a living.

again while thankful that we experienced the peak of the art form in all of its excess and glory, it makes us sad for our future generations who will never know what it's like except for the old films.

keep on rockin on what is left

For the greater good is the greatest deed.

The Times They Are A-Changin’ ... so we hear ...

peace 

Neil Young
2010 MusiCares Person Of The Year Tribute
Los Angeles Convention Center, January 29, 2010

 

More on Neil Young Sells Song Catalog Stake For $150,000,000.


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20 Comments:

At 1/07/2021 11:00:00 AM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

From what I’ve read Neil seems comfortable with the deal he’s made, and it’s his life’s work so he can do whatever he pleases with it. Apparently the deal allows him to have a equal say in how his music is handled, but I’m surprised that he sighed a 50/50 agreement. I would have thought a 51/49 deal would have given him more leverage, but I’m not privy to all the details.

It’s a truly strange world we find ourselves in today, and time waits for no one. Either you move with the changes, or you get left behind. As long as Neil continues to make music the world is all the better for it. The music will live on, long after we’re all gone.

Peace 🙏

 
At 1/07/2021 12:12:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

Thanks Dan -- as always -- for providing thoughts and context.

indeed, The Times They Are A-Changin’ ... so we hear ...

so just to amplify a bit on our frustration here that we never got to discuss earlier when the Dylan deal was announced, is that we think these guys are selling out way too cheap.

Dylan's catalog has to be worth way way more than was he's reported to receive.

seriously, these guy's music will live on forever. but even if you said 100 years, the value of these songs is incalculable. Songs like " The Times They Are A-Changin’" will be streamed billions and trillions of times over the next century.

So we kind of feel that Bob & Neil are giving it away.

Others, however say that these guys are super smart and selling out at peak. The whole revenue model of concerts, streams, etc is evaporating b/c of the Label Business fails. Therefore, best cash out now while they can get something. In 5 years they value maybe close to worthless as all revenue is sucked up by Big Tech like APPL & AMZ.

lastly, as we commented above and previously, if this is what it takes to keep NYA going @ $20 PMPM, so be be it.

long live The Archives!

 
At 1/08/2021 02:26:00 AM, Blogger Andrew Byrom said...

Your final point @thrasher is one I will watch with interest. If NY hikes the price for a rust tier on NYA after pocketing £150m it will hard to stomach.

 
At 1/08/2021 05:29:00 AM, Blogger Harm said...

Thrasher, I think you overestimate the popularity of Neil Young and Bob Dylan on streaming services. The most streamed song on Spotify by Neil Young is, unsurprisingly, Heart of Gold with a little less than 180 million streams. His top 10 songs have amassed 670 million streams. Let's be generous and say that all of his songs combined have 2 billion streams since Spotify started.

By contrast, Ed Sheeran's Shape of You has 2.7 billion streams. That song as been released in 2017, so it should put things in perspective. The most streamed artist 'all time' on Spotify is Drake, with about 35 billion streams.

Now I don't know how many times Neil's songs have been streamed in total and if those 1180 songs are written songs only or released recordings (there are many versions of Tonight's the Night for example), but to amass $150,000,000 at $0.004 per stream, Neil's songs would have to be streamed 75 billion times (since Hypgnosis only gets 50%).

Neil Young has a little under 6 million monthly listeners on Spotify. With 2 billion streams since the launch of Spotify, let's say he amassed those 2 billion streams in 5 years, you don't have to be a mathematician to work out that in his lifetime nor that of his children he would amass that much money. Of course, there are physical releases also, but does Neil sell more than 100,000 copies per album? The $150 million can be put to work immediately, by investing it and partially donating it.

 
At 1/08/2021 10:12:00 AM, Blogger thrasher said...

@ Andrew - so, £150m or USD$150M?

either way, it would seem enough of a cushion to keep NYA chugging along in our lifetimes and beyond.

That's what's so important to have the platform independent and streaming for eternity.
Let the music flow & live 4ever!

@ Harm - thanks for the #'s!

well, yes, Ed Sheeran may stream more today but ...

100 years from no one will know or remember him. Bob & neil, we'll say will be more popular than ever and remember for having courage when so many have been so cowardly.

Sheeran will never deliver anything like Ohio or Blowin. These are songs that will last.

so that's why we think these Big Investors are getting these catalogs for a steal. Much like the speculators in NYC now who are scooping real estate at bargain prices knowing they'll bounce back. Likewise, the vultures are circling on the starving artists, plucking the jewels to monetize for a later day.

 
At 1/08/2021 10:38:00 AM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

$0.004 per stream....... No wonder the music industry is dying a slow painful death. Now I understand why Neil is charging $100.00 for the 50th anniversary edition of After the Gold Rush. I’m still not going to purchase it, but now I understand it.

Peace 🙏

 
At 1/08/2021 11:13:00 AM, Blogger Alan said...

In Capitalism, by definition, Neil Young earned the exact amount he was paid for the product he sold, or half-sold. I like the vibe of the song “This Notes for You” but I shall continue to listen and enjoy his old and new music. He doesn’t need to tell us what charitable giving he is involved in, whether he is feeding hungry people, buying the Alaskan Wildlife Refuge in Trump’s insane auction, or not doing any at all. Amber Jeanne & Zeke may give large chunks to charity. Ben needs a lot of expensive care. And Neil has paid his dues and done a shit-ton of hard work, and he created mountains of audio Art that benefited the world immeasurably. He made my world a lot better. I don’t begrudge him this transaction. I look forward to the trunks of memories we have yet to hear or fully digest. But it can never be fully digested because it remains whole for the world of people and future generations to enjoy. So be it. Rock on, Neil. Thank you for the song catalogue! Alan in Seattle

 
At 1/08/2021 11:48:00 AM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

The Times vinyl is now available for preorder at the Greedy Hand for $17.98. That means that if you purchase the 50th anniversary edition of After the Gold Rush you will be paying $82.00 for a single and a lithograph. What a bargain.

Peace 🙏

 
At 1/08/2021 12:04:00 PM, Blogger Harm said...

Thrasher, you won't see me lining up to buy Sheeran's or Drake's music, but to simply state that no-one will remember them in a 100 years just because you don't like their music is not only condescending to those who do like their music but also disrespectful to the artists. And of course it's highly speculative. Good music didn't stop being made after the 70s you know. Just wondering, which modern artists will be remembered in 100 years time?

 
At 1/08/2021 12:17:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

@ Harm - in all seriousness, I didn't make the statement b/c i don't like their music.

i just think like all art, some is timeless and some isn't it.

of course it remains to be seen whether Sheeran or Drake is timeless. the position that we don't think their work will hold up 100 years from now isn't being disrespectful. like everything, just a humble opinion.

you know, Van Gogh & Mozart pretty much died penniless and unrecognized in their day.

In fact we just learned recently that Van Gogh sold only one single painting during his lifetime.

So knowing that great artists like Bob & Neil won't be scraping out their final years is very, very comforting.

peace

 
At 1/08/2021 12:38:00 PM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

Neil Young's music is timeless. As Kant pointed out, "genius" is a term reserved for artists. Kant argued this as he pointed out rightly that someone would have arrived at the calculus and universal gravitation other than Newton (in fact, Leibniz worked out the calculus at the same time as Newton and it is Leibniz's notation that we still use). Robert Hooke was a few ideas away from universal gravitation and the door to classical mechanics- Newton for there first. In other words, Newton's discoveries and works could be duplicated or could have been done by someone else. But the genius is singular and also raises the aesthetic standard to a new level. I believe Neil Young's influence is a demonstration of his singularity and the fact that he raised the bar. He just did this because of who he is and how hard he worked. Even as many try, they simply cannot give us the same sound as Neil's guitar. We know when it is Neil and we also know how amazing it is, the assimilation of music with lyrics, so that a simple and by itself banal lyric becomes terrifying, comforting, haunting, wild, and probing. I listened to "Interstate" last night before I went to sleep. This song is the work of basic genius. The music is simple, the lyrics are simple and abstract, the two together combine in ways that we cannot have ever predicted or calculated. The song haunts the human spirit.

 
At 1/08/2021 12:57:00 PM, Blogger Lone Red Rider said...

It's like Neil selling a house and downsizing. The next owner can rent it out as "Neil's former house"...

 
At 1/09/2021 03:36:00 AM, Blogger Alan said...

Well written, Abner. The Muse seems to have smiled upon you. As DC smolders. If the siege had African americans, many would have been shot and killed by the police. Injustice broke like a wave on Trump’s hate-mongering and instigation of his delusional fan base of Nazis and Bullies. Trump should burn in a Hell he doesn’t even believe in! What a fake Christian if there ever was one!

 
At 1/09/2021 03:38:00 AM, Blogger Alan said...

I enjoyed your writing and I am glad you are passionate about Neil’s artistry. I certainly didn’t intend for the above reply to be a criticism of you. The timing of the DC siege has been on my mind! Alan in seattle.

 
At 1/09/2021 12:04:00 PM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

Alan in Seattle,
I do not spend all that much time listening to any music these days, but I have been a Neil fan since I was a teenager and I could not pass up the fun opportunity to write a relaxing blurb about genius. The DC siege is far more important and I too have been doing much thinking and viewing. That grotesque mob slowly and surely approached the Capital and if law enforcement had been in their urgency mode, no one would have ever entered the building and there would be body bags. You are absolutely right about the comparison with the peaceful protests this past summer. Here in the midwest, police were surrounding protesters, telling them to disperse and then arrested them as they tried to disperse. What we are seeing is a total disgrace and a deep moral offense. I am in total agreement with your views. I wrote our senators immediately (worthless) and our governor (who is a complete idiot). "Let's Impeach the President"!!!!! Right Now!!!!!!!

 
At 1/09/2021 12:37:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

@ Alan & Abner - again, as always, your thoughts are appreciated here @ TW.

obviously, intense times these days. from where we sit at the moment, we can all but practically smell the waft of tear gas and pepper spray from the U.S. Capitol. This has been our perch for decades, so we do know our way around our little town.

there are those coming @ TW privately & publicly about some of our prior positions, as well as requests to make clarifying statements about current events.

while reluctant, mainly b/c we have said it all before, over & over, so why repeat ourselves.

and just to be clear here, no, we were not on The Ellipse on Jan 6.

many realize that we have pounded on the Big Shift for years. Folks that are freaking out now are totally unprepared -- mentally, physically, emotionally. Everything in our lives has been screaming that "winter is coming", but many have failed to harvest their crops and can no longer separate the wheat from the chaff.

See From "Winterlong" to "The Quantum Big Shift": The Illusion Shatters | #BigShift.

we've alway believed that rusties are some of the most aware folks on the EARTH. so presumably some of this panic is coming from outside the rust community.

Anyone who listened and understood Neil's message in "Children of Destiny" gets this.

See A Happy New Year for 2018's "Children of Destiny".

And in July 2019, we predicted -- along w/ many others -- it would all come down to Georgia. See George & John, Donald & Neil + Bob: Sooner or Later, It All Gets REAL ... As in Now

So really, what more is there to say than our mantra that:
Keep Calm, No Fear, Shut It Down, and Keep on Rockin'! #BeTheRain.

having said all of this, we will conclude here by saying, that if you do see and understand the illusion, than the coming days -- which will culminate on Jan 20 @ Noon -- will be very difficult. Much more difficult than what we have seen.

Not to be alarming, but in hopes of spurring preparations, we share our last but maybe most important link from Neil Young: "I don't hate Trump. I do hate that he is President."

if you scroll down, you will see near the bottom the modified quote by Rev. Martin Niemoller, 1945, beginning with "First they came for Thrasher's Wheat, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Neil Young fan".

ponder that. the time to pick a lane and take a stand came long ago. will we learn from history or simply repeat the cycle?

it will become darker. than it will become unbelievably bright.

Namaste, Om Shanti, peace & love

#BeTheRain
#BigShift
#disCERNment
#NoFear
#WT1sWBW4

 
At 1/09/2021 05:26:00 PM, Blogger Steve Rust Downunder said...

This way Neil gets a clear path on how his cash payment can be handled, when he passes away, as royalty rights can become very complicated and abused, if in the wrong hands.

 
At 1/09/2021 08:03:00 PM, Blogger Alan said...

It’s nice to hear Abner and Thrasher sharing their truth about the state of affairs in the USA. Living in Oligarchy here, over the years, it has been hard to stomach the truth of our situation. The fact that the DNC rigged its own Primary in 2016 to screw Bernie, the one candidate who would have defeated Trump, is sickening. All in the name of “Stopping Socialism” (because the middle class is there to be bled dry, paying all the taxes the the Corporations DON’T PAY). To hear Trump fans say that they are laying Siege to the Legislative Branch “to Stop Communism” is ironic and grotesque. Joe McCarthy is laughing in his grave! The Police in DC obviously should have been prepared for the white folks swarming in. Some of the Cops agree with the ideology and beliefs of the Trump mob! The police were outnumbered. The contrast with the severity of the Cops towards BLM and the Standing Rock Sioux is disgusting. The white cops like to oppress darker skinned folks. Even Biden sounds woke when he addresses it these days. The foolish white terrorists in DC think they are the patriots. In our 2 party Oligarchy, the difference between the Dems and the Repubs was hard to even notice until Trump got elected by the media. They gave him between $1-$3 Billion in free TV coverage in the lead up to the 2016 Primary. And they did so at the suggestion from HRC and the DNC. “Trump is a pied piper candidate who will be easily defeated in the election.” (I read the emails; Thanks to Wikileaks). Jeb Bush and the other Republican candidates saw the writing on the wall: they could not get on TV, & Trump could not get OFF the TV! The media is owned by 6 Corporations that don’t wish to pay taxes. Meanwhile Earth burns and Trump goes all out to pollute all the water and push Coal and Oil, auction the Alaskan Wildlife Refuge to plunder. And Elon Musk & Jeff Bezos prepare to launch the Silver Seeds to THEIR new home. Space is full of Radiation and it is not feasible to support much life out there. A few Billionaires will leave Earth with their crew. It would be cool if we could save this once perfect planet of ours. Alan in Seattle

 
At 1/10/2021 05:32:00 PM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

Alan, so many good points. I just have this one moment- at a political event last year someone asked one of my friends to "define socialism" and she said, "the political changes necessary for ordinary people to be able to determine the nature of their own communal life." Somehow, somewhere, so many people have come to misunderstand socialism and they conflate it with some blurry notion of the Soviet Union.

 
At 1/10/2021 08:13:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

@ Rust Downunder - yep, lots of cases. Prince's estate seems to be just the latest sad fiasco. so Neil's arrangement would hopefully be structured such that there's none of this huge family & associate dramas.

@ Alan - lot to unpack here so we'll try and be real concise.

The Divide & Conquer technique was perfected long ago.

it has reached such a level of perfection that even 2 perfectly compatible rusties in every dimension are manipulated to be at each other's throats.

just the other day, thrashette & I were discussing similarities of 2020 and 2016. Recall after Hillary's defeat the massive depression of her base at their loss to Trump. Hillary backers marched on Washington after the inauguration in major #'s in protest.

Fast fwd, same response where Trump backers marched on Washington after the election in major #'s in protest.

So what TPTB have achieved in only 4 years is a nearly perfect polarization of the entire electorate. Quite an achievement, setting the stage for the next chapters.
for us? In these extreme times -- when the far right and far left fringes become ever more increasingly unhinged -- we try and maintain radical centrism.

again, we're not looking for a leader. nor do we have the revolution blues.
#WT1sWBW4

@Abner - agree that a lot of folks throw around terms that they don't fully grasp. we think you know quite well, these are simply "teachable moments".

so, teach those children very well. they need it. more than ever.

 

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