Inside ‘Tidal Wave’ of Song Catalog Sales: Why Neil Young, Bob Dylan and More Are Cashing in

”People are almost treating catalogs like they would treat bonds,“ lawyer James Sammataro says

More than 30 years after Neil Young sang, “Ain’t singing for Pepsi, ain’t singing for Coke / I don’t sing for nobody, makes me look like a joke,” the iconic songwriter sold a 50% stake of his complete catalog of some 1,180 songs, opening the door for his music to be licensed in ways beyond his control.

What seemed unthinkable not just for a political folk icon like Young but for many rock stars has now become a trend. In recent weeks, artists like Stevie Nicks, Lindsay Buckingham, Jimmy Iovine and even Bob Dylan have cashed in what many songwriters consider their most prized possessions. This week alone, OneRepublic singer Ryan Tedder — who also has credits on songs by Beyoncé and Adele — sold his catalog of over 500 songs to investment firm KKR, and Latin superstar Shakira sold her catalog of 145 songs to Hipgnosis Song Fund.

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Brian Welk

Film Reporter • • Twitter: @brianwelk