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Wednesday, January 06, 2021

These Notes Are For Who? Neil Young Sells Song Catalog Stake For $150,000,000

Sponsored by Nobody?!
Neil Young's 1988 "This Note's for You"

 

When Bob Dylan sold his catalog last year for millions, we paused on publishing thoughts and analysis because we knew it would inevitably come down to -- not if -- but when Neil Young would do the same.

Regrettably, we held our thoughts here at TW and apologize to our readers for failing to draw obvious conclusions and share.  Forgive us as we atone for our blog omission sins.

AP News reports that Neil Young has sold copyright for 1,180 songs to Hipgnosis Songs Fund for $150,000,000.

Merck Mercuriadis, founder of Hipgnosis Songs Fund Limited, stated:

"Hipgnosis and Young have a common integrity, ethos and passion born out of a belief in music and these important songs. There will never be a ‘Burger of Gold’ but we will work together to make sure everyone gets to hear them on Neil's terms.”

"There will never be a ‘Burger of Gold’".  Now that's a relief ... not.

The question is not why or why now?

That is somewhat obvious -- there is no future in the music business.  The real question is where does this all lead?

 

Mostly, we agree with the above grim speculation above by Ted Gioia on the future of -- not just music -- but all of the creative arts. Again, our apologies for glossing over this last year, but with all the bad news in 2020, we just couldn't pile on anymore.

So we start 2021 on the bleakest of notes regarding what we love most here at TW, live music in concert.  All we can say is that we're glad that in our youth we were able to catch many of the great concerts.

The music and creative business model has always been tenuous at best but is now clearly all but broken in favor of Big Corporations.

Neil Young
Allan Waters Humanitarian Award, Artist of the Year and Adult Alternative Album of the Year Award
2011 Juno awards at the Air Canada Centre

 

In the meantime, see How Banning Neil Young Outed MTV’s True Corporate Colors.

Again, these subjects are very dear to us here at TW and we have been pounding on them for decades, such as this 2007 piece The Price of Neil: When Art and Commerce Collide. 

Like so many things, we consumers are more to blame than the artists for this awful predicament which was all forecast long ago as the "free the music army" stormed the internet and bootlegging essentially when legitimate and the "Stealing is OK" mentality became the norm.

Similar to the fate of journalism when folks were ok with "free news" rather than actually pay to buy a newspaper, music fans were content to just rips songs and never pay a penny.

The Music Business has ceded all control to Big Tech and is really no longer a viable industry.  The Suits have cashed out long ago. By maximizing profit by liquidating catalogs, the Music Business has ceased to invest in new artists or any innovation whatsoever.

So artists like Neil and Bob are doing what they have to out of desperation to survive in order to monetize their music in a digital world. 
In 2020, we speculated that Neil was doing big deals with Big Tech in order to keep NYA an ongoing viable entity.  To which we were blasted with blowback that we would ever suspect Neil of doing a deal with the devil.

A posting to which Neil himself seemed to respond to directly.

 

In response to the TW speculation, A Message From Neil | NYA, Neil Young clarifies his recent statements on his arrangement with Amazon and directly addresses our concerns about "risking the "family jewels" (high resolution song files) in order to save NYA.". (See Amazon Deal & NYA: Neil Young Clarifies

 


A Message From Neil | NYA


careful what you wish for ... because you reap what you sow ...

"gotta watch out for the greedy hand

the greedy hand"

 

The Greedy Hand | Neil Young Store | WBR

 

DEVELOPING - CHECK BACK


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37 Comments:

At 1/06/2021 09:56:00 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

The good news is that we can all now own our piece of Neil Young music by buying Hipgnosis stock on the London stock exchange.

 
At 1/06/2021 10:13:00 AM, Blogger Harm said...

So a Neil Young song is worth about half as much as a Dylan song. At 1180 songs his catalogue is twice as big as Dylan's and also twice as big as we thought, looking at the stats on Sugar Mountain.

Meanwhile David Crosby is moaning he can't pay his mortgage.

I'm hoping well see live music again in 2021 but also that Neil keeps releasing archival music at the rate he's promised us.

 
At 1/06/2021 10:36:00 AM, Blogger Mike H. said...

The BBC reports that he sold 50% of the rights so the value is actually double.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-55557633

 
At 1/06/2021 11:05:00 AM, Blogger thrasher said...

@ Unknown - is that really good news? Investing in artists?

Frankly, we prefer the old fashioned support model. Buy the album and concert tickets.

a sad day. we feel quite sorry for those up and coming artists trying to make a living doing what they love.

guess it's kind of like the local deli these days. if you want them to survive, support them with our business or they'll die.

@ Harm - given that it is actually very difficult for the avg fan to understand these types of arrangements its hard to say.

see note below from Mike H and his interpretation.

@ Mike H. - thanks for input.

right. while trying to value Bob & Neil has been sort of a life long passion around here, it is virtually unfathomable to say Heart of Gold is worth X vs Times They Are a Changin is worth Y.

shudder the thoughts ...

 
At 1/06/2021 11:24:00 AM, Blogger Harm said...

When I was talking about song value I was obviously joking. Anyway, I think Neil's net worth before this deal was rather enviable to begin with, however, Neil like Bob and many others understand that this is the time to capitalise and safeguard the value of their inheritance and I don't blame them. I think it would be very hard for Neil et al. and their heirs to generate this amount of revenue from their back catalogue themselves even if they have the interest to do so. They decided shift the risk.

The only question is what kind of creative control remains.

As for streaming, I use it a lot to discover new music which I'll ultimately buy physically if I like it. It has also allowed many others to discover new music which has lead to more concert visits. It is sad that with the current pandemic the main source of income for many artists has disappeared. But this won't last forever.

On the other hand, the lack of live music has allowed many artists to focus on their studio output, so many great albums have been released this year. Art through adversity.

 
At 1/06/2021 11:30:00 AM, Blogger Andy Walters said...

I'm sure his family will benefit from this and perhaps Mrs Young ? I wonder what ole Neil's will looks like? This Notes For Me.

 
At 1/06/2021 12:27:00 PM, Blogger Jonathan said...

Neil is not a communist although he supports them...sigh

 
At 1/06/2021 12:47:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Sadly we live in a world where money rules.I don't blame Neil for selling out.It's his right to act the way he thinks is best.Everybody has a price.His music will survive this way so other may enjoy it as much as I did all my life.Cees Mostert,the netjherlands,Europe.

 
At 1/06/2021 01:35:00 PM, Blogger Abner Snopes said...

It is hard to see how this culture could authentically value art. To be blunt, everything is reduced to a commodity, even the artist. But art itself stands in opposition to the commodity, it is what is not to be bought and sold, its worth is inherent to it and is categorically distinct from market value. But that never stops anything, contradictions are welcome by the current regime. And how can anyone blame Neil for anything in this circumstance? "Back on the chain gang."

 
At 1/06/2021 02:00:00 PM, Blogger eddie77 said...

@Jonathan

Neil does not "support Communists" - that's just Trumper-type nonsense and a way to characterise anyone who doesn't support their racist, sexist, homophobic, Covid-denying, climate change-sceptic, reactionary BS.

Or maybe you were just being sarcastic....

 
At 1/06/2021 02:04:00 PM, Blogger eddie77 said...


Can anyone clarify whether, Neil, like Dylan, has sold the rights to his songs but not the rights to his performances - be they studio or live - of them?

(NB: that was my understanding of the Dylan deal)

 
At 1/06/2021 02:29:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

My love of music began with a small portable record player that looked like a tweed suitcase. It was able to play records at 78rpm, 45rpm, and 33 1/3 rpm. It was a cheap little device, but it opened up a universe that has profoundly impacted my entire life experience. I was seven years old at the time.

Since then I have lived through a myriad of changes in how I listened to music. It began with singles (45rpm), then albums (33 1/3rpm), then 8 track tapes, cassette tapes, compact discs, and now (occasionally) streaming. The vehicles available to hear new music has also changed over the years. First there was AM radio, or a jukebox at the burger joint, then came FM radio, MTV, YouTube and satellite radio.

The only constant has been the shear power of music, and its ability to inspire. To move us emotionally and enhance our lives to a higher place. To heal. To unite and to console. To transport us back, and to move us forward. The power of music is undeniable and it defies monetary value. It is priceless. It is sacred.

Whatever the current situation is, no matter how grim it may seem, music will prevail. Because music has always been, and always will be the ultimate universal language that binds us all together, and it can’t be valued in dollars and cents. For me, it will always be more valuable than money.

Peace 🙏

 
At 1/06/2021 03:43:00 PM, Blogger Old Black said...

I don't blame Neil for doing this to be honest. As sad a thought as it is, and I'll be really blunt, there's no escaping the fact that he's only got maybe a decade left, if he's really lucky, to produce work and maybe tour, in a market place of dwindling returns royalty wise. Didn't he mention having to sell property in Hawaii in the autobiography to maintain the books? If this is his chance to look after his family financially for many many years to come after he's gone then who can blame him? Wouldn't we do the same for our loved ones?

 
At 1/06/2021 04:26:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

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

 
At 1/06/2021 05:00:00 PM, Blogger Chris said...

Comes a time to harvest. I am happy for him. He deserves every penny and he will for sure make others benefit.

 
At 1/06/2021 05:11:00 PM, Blogger Michael Briefcase said...

Can I just remind everyone that thousands are still dying of covid everyday?

Perspective?

 
At 1/06/2021 05:18:00 PM, Blogger eddie77 said...


@Michael Briefcase

Does that mean we're not allowed to discuss anything else?

That really is a classic piece of whataboutery.

 
At 1/06/2021 05:27:00 PM, Blogger Michael Briefcase said...

We can discuss whatever, but it's not really "difficult subject". Once again, NY has done with his art exactly as he pleases. Doesn't devalue it or make it any different to any of us.

Chill out about it 🙂

 
At 1/06/2021 05:41:00 PM, Blogger Richie Cruz said...

And with every passing day, I find myself happier and happier that I was alive in the 70's, 80's, and 90's before the world turned into what it's turned into. Thems were better times....

 
At 1/06/2021 05:52:00 PM, Blogger eddie77 said...


@Michael Briefcase

Very kind of you to let us discuss it.

Very magnanimous.

Although the Proud Boys are doing themselves 'proud' as I speak....

 
At 1/06/2021 06:06:00 PM, Blogger Dan Swan said...

“ Music runs in the veins of every individual, and it is that thread which binds us all together “

- Ravi Shankar-

 
At 1/06/2021 06:50:00 PM, Blogger Palace in the Sun said...

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

 
At 1/06/2021 09:40:00 PM, Blogger Chris said...

What he said

 
At 1/06/2021 09:45:00 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Cough up the bucks!

SONY

 
At 1/06/2021 11:19:00 PM, Blogger david said...

These notes are not for you anymore............how rich do you have to be? He is worth 80 million online before this. But people do change.

 
At 1/07/2021 01:14:00 AM, Blogger Fort Mac said...

Wondering where the convenient Canadian is tonite ?
Saluting the American flag and the coup attempt ?

Is he in Canada , hiding from your great democracy that is now fascism .

We all have forefathers buried in Europe .... with their memories still strong .

No reasoning with Fascist Dictators ... except a bullet in their head !
Plain and simple truth .

 
At 1/07/2021 04:06:00 AM, Blogger Steve Rust Downunder said...

He knows what his shit is worth...right? So if and when he goes into the Black...can you just imagine his family try to deal with...the BS they would have to put up with.. and vultures ripping in. His way he has the control... he is sly old fox ...well done Neil

 
At 1/07/2021 09:48:00 AM, Blogger Alan said...

You are one of this right wing extremists apparently. Do you support what Trump’s morons did in DC yesterday? Neil is very far from being communist, as is Bernie Sanders. You believed all the patriotic BS they spoonfed you in school? You never questioned it. You are one of the sheep.

 
At 1/07/2021 09:50:00 AM, Blogger Alan said...

I think I agree. How are you man? Yesterday’s madness and sedition in DC aside. We are almost done with this assh*le

 
At 1/07/2021 09:51:00 AM, Blogger Alan said...

I agree with your statement. I don’t think that was sarcasm. A chasm which should have been full of knowledge, more correctly.

 
At 1/07/2021 10:37:00 AM, Blogger Art Carey said...

Oh, gosh. Old Black gives the poor guy only five more years.

 
At 1/07/2021 01:00:00 PM, Blogger Chris said...

Exactly

 
At 1/07/2021 02:13:00 PM, Blogger Old Black said...

Art Carey,
Sorry Art, I don't like to think like that, let alone post it, but I was just being bluntly realistic. I hope Neil lives healthily and happily for many many many years and is able to work as much as he wishes, I'm sure we all do, but the numbers are the numbers. We all physically decline, and touring (which must be his biggest earner, or was before Covid) will only get more demanding of his health as he gets older.

Really, I'm genuinely sorry for the bluntness of my post, I was using the context to highlight my view that I think it's a wise move on his part to do what he's done.

Stay well everyone!

 
At 1/07/2021 02:33:00 PM, Blogger Alan said...

We all know that, right?

 
At 1/07/2021 02:37:00 PM, Blogger Alan said...

Why in the F would Neil Young salute the coup attempt? Silly.

 
At 1/07/2021 03:57:00 PM, Blogger Michael Briefcase said...

I don't really get your point. I think we are on the same side. No need to be like that. 😘

 
At 1/08/2021 09:25:00 PM, Blogger Fort Mac said...

Holy jumpins lads .... some of you folks are hard on Neil fer cashing his pension .
On the happy side , he'll be able to buy Ontario plates for Lintvolt ...and not be shot at the border for being a Fascist Trump Americana .
Finally the free world has spoken ... and our usual spinless silver spoon fed Prime Minister Trudeau has declared war against fascist Americans .
Good luck there yankee boys .... once you get yer vaccine ...and think of travelling outside yer bubble of Liberty and Freedom .
You crossed a line that makes the free world not welcome to fascists ...we have fought those wars for reason beyond your American Flag !

 

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