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Bruce Springsteen Music Catalogue

futuretraineesolicitor

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Dec 14, 2019
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Hello, guys. Hope you are doing well. Could you please help me out with something related to commercial awareness here?


According to this news story, Bruce sold his entire collection for the said amount. In another article covering the same story, I read something on the lines of how record labels are now going to have it slightly tougher because more artists would like to keep the rights to their music themselves in the hope of getting a similar paycheque 20 years down the line. My question here is that what are the emerging artists even going to negotiate for, because (and please correct me if I'm wrong here) the #1 reason why the record labels spend money to market young artists and to help them produce music is that they want to keep all the copyrights themselves. I really don't see a way in which an artist can get signed to a record label and also keep the copyrights to his/her music.

Thanks a lot.
 

Jessica Booker

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Money can be made from music in many different ways - not just royalties from songs being played. For instance, concerts, documentaries, TV appearances, merchandise etc. A record company won't just make money from songs being played or sold, and therefore can afford to be flexible with what they negotiate with a singer or songwriter.

But even outside of that, songwriters or singers both have the ability to negotiate what they want into a contract if they are good enough and in demand. As they become bigger artists and renegotiate contracts by extending them with a record company (or jumping ship to another one), they are probably in a strong negotiating position. They are the brand after all, and the music company is not likely to make money without them. I bet Bruce Springsteen's first record contract was worth a lot less than one of his contracts at the peak of his career because of that.

Plus royalties can be (and are set) as percentages - they don't have to be exclusively owned by one party. The record company might take the largest percentage, but the songwriter will take another, the producer another, and possibly even the management company of the artist would take a percentage too. Once you cut that all down, the artist themselves might also get a small percentage.

Like any contract, you have two or more parties that need each other. Record companies might be tougher based on how music markets have changed in the last 20 years and because of large amounts of money being paid for back catalogues, but they will still have an artist they want to sign and will therefore make them an attractive offer based on that, which is likely to include royalties. Otherwise artists will just go to another record company that can offer them what they do want.
 

futuretraineesolicitor

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Dec 14, 2019
753
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Money can be made from music in many different ways - not just royalties from songs being played. For instance, concerts, documentaries, TV appearances, merchandise etc. A record company won't just make money from songs being played or sold, and therefore can afford to be flexible with what they negotiate with a singer or songwriter.

But even outside of that, songwriters or singers both have the ability to negotiate what they want into a contract if they are good enough and in demand. As they become bigger artists and renegotiate contracts by extending them with a record company (or jumping ship to another one), they are probably in a strong negotiating position. They are the brand after all, and the music company is not likely to make money without them. I bet Bruce Springsteen's first record contract was worth a lot less than one of his contracts at the peak of his career because of that.

Plus royalties can be (and are set) as percentages - they don't have to be exclusively owned by one party. The record company might take the largest percentage, but the songwriter will take another, the producer another, and possibly even the management company of the artist would take a percentage too. Once you cut that all down, the artist themselves might also get a small percentage.

Like any contract, you have two or more parties that need each other. Record companies might be tougher based on how music markets have changed in the last 20 years and because of large amounts of money being paid for back catalogues, but they will still have an artist they want to sign and will therefore make them an attractive offer based on that, which is likely to include royalties. Otherwise artists will just go to another record company that can offer them what they do want.
Thank you so much for this answer.
 

PirateShip

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Premium Member
Feb 3, 2021
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I can provide a little input into this thread because I've worked in the online media industry for a while.

For starters, I think it's important to remember how the music industry has changed in the last decade. The barrier to entry for publishing has been nearly completely torn down, and record labels no longer have the strangle hold on distribution that they used to have. You don't need to sign with a label to get your music on CD anymore because you can just rent out a recording booth for a day and then publish your music on streaming services. If you're an electronic artist then your barrier to entry is even lower because you don't even need to rent out a recording studio. Distribution services like Ingrooves, RepostNetwork, and YouTube MCNs will even help get your content onto every platform and assign ISRC/Grid Codes/UPC for only a fraction of your revenue.

How much money you'll make is another issue entirely, but this ability to self-publish is very useful for artists as they can cultivate an audience that will put them in a better negotiation position if they do eventually decide to sign with a label.

Edit: IIRC, the largest sources of revenue for artists continues to be merchandise and touring.
 
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futuretraineesolicitor

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Dec 14, 2019
753
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I can provide a little input into this thread because I've worked in the online media industry for a while.

For starters, I think it's important to remember how the music industry has changed in the last decade. The barrier to entry for publishing has been nearly completely torn down, and record labels no longer have the strangle hold on distribution that they used to have. You don't need to sign with a label to get your music on CD anymore because you can just rent out a recording booth for a day and then publish your music on streaming services. If you're an electronic artist then your barrier to entry is even lower because you don't even need to rent out a recording studio. Distribution services like Ingrooves, RepostNetwork, and YouTube MCNs will even help get your content onto every platform and assign ISRC/Grid Codes/UPC for only a fraction of your revenue.

How much money you'll make is another issue entirely, but this ability to self-publish is very useful for artists as they can cultivate an audience that will put them in a better negotiation position if they do eventually decide to sign with a label.

Edit: IIRC, the largest sources of revenue for artists continues to be merchandise and touring.
Thank you so much for your response.
 
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gilo

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Premium Member
Jul 27, 2020
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Having researched similar issues for my dissertation - the current situation given technological advances in recent years means that IP rights to music and any medium of art that is 'communicated to the public' ect are no longer as concrete as previously. This is mainly because numerous illegal but also quite crafty websites are able to bypass current statutory legislation and communicate works of artists often through a proxy website or an application that is not directly connected to the artist's works. The recent case of TuneIn (have a look if you're interested) demonstrates the new ways that creative works can be broadcasted to the public without 'communicating to the public' directly.

I think that Bruce Springsteen's sale is interesting, but also an exception to the general norms, because ultimately the creative works of artists today have very little statutory protection. Bruce Springsteen's catalogue most likely has value because the older generations, and less technologically able, still buy his music - like CDs - which is why he has been able to demand such a vast figure for it. I don't believe many others will demand such a high figure in the future - other than musicians and artists of that sort of generation.

Like Jessica said instead the relationship and subsequently negotiated terms between record labels and their newly signed artists will become far less focussed on the rights to the music themselves, but other things that can generate revenue for both parties, such as concerts, merchandise and advertising. Unfortunately the weight on the music itself and the IP rights behind it will become less and less prominent due to the numerous holes that can punched by crafty internet pirates.

This doesn't mean that the role of a solicitor in the industry will become less important or insightful. If anything the recent coronavirus pandemic demonstrates the importance of drafting contracts for artists and the parties they are involved that cover all bases - such as force majeure clauses in the event of unprecedented crises whilst on tour.
 

S87

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I find this trend interesting because it shows how technology has completely changed the music market. Fifteen years ago, internet piracy was destroying this industry, while nowadays streaming is bringing in new steady cash flows. In 2020, despite a global economic contraction by 6%, streaming revenues were up to 19.9% and, it is clear that private equity music offers new dependable incomes. Analysts at Morgan Stanley estimated that, by 2025, the value of digital streaming will be around £33bn while music rights payments made by digital platforms (Spotify, Apple) will increase to £2.5bn. The streaming market is also expanding in other ways offering artists new earning opportunities: social media, videogames and e-fitness platforms have just started to license music IP from rightsholders. Furthermore, I find it fascinating how music streaming has forced companies, such as Spotify and Pandora, to regulate how they pay publishers and writers and the wide financial disparity existing between the former and their respective music labels. Finally, as an aspiring solicitor, I am intrigued by the perspective of working in this ever-changing market and learning how different teams such as IP, tax and corporate collaborate to sustain their clients' interests.
 

S87

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Gold Member
Premium Member
Sep 4, 2018
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Hello, guys. Hope you are doing well. Could you please help me out with something related to commercial awareness here?


According to this news story, Bruce sold his entire collection for the said amount. In another article covering the same story, I read something on the lines of how record labels are now going to have it slightly tougher because more artists would like to keep the rights to their music themselves in the hope of getting a similar paycheque 20 years down the line. My question here is that what are the emerging artists even going to negotiate for, because (and please correct me if I'm wrong here) the #1 reason why the record labels spend money to market young artists and to help them produce music is that they want to keep all the copyrights themselves. I really don't see a way in which an artist can get signed to a record label and also keep the copyrights to his/her music.

Thanks a lot.
It is a wider issue and mostly concerns costs. Music labels spend millions to create a profitable artist and most of the time the return is none. That's why they keep the masters to the music and that's why artists are approaching the industry differently. Finally, when it comes to paying artists (singers, songwriters etc..) the problem is not just master but also music metadata.
 

James Carrabino

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Oct 12, 2021
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Having researched similar issues for my dissertation - the current situation given technological advances in recent years means that IP rights to music and any medium of art that is 'communicated to the public' ect are no longer as concrete as previously. This is mainly because numerous illegal but also quite crafty websites are able to bypass current statutory legislation and communicate works of artists often through a proxy website or an application that is not directly connected to the artist's works. The recent case of TuneIn (have a look if you're interested) demonstrates the new ways that creative works can be broadcasted to the public without 'communicating to the public' directly.

I think that Bruce Springsteen's sale is interesting, but also an exception to the general norms, because ultimately the creative works of artists today have very little statutory protection. Bruce Springsteen's catalogue most likely has value because the older generations, and less technologically able, still buy his music - like CDs - which is why he has been able to demand such a vast figure for it. I don't believe many others will demand such a high figure in the future - other than musicians and artists of that sort of generation.

Like Jessica said instead the relationship and subsequently negotiated terms between record labels and their newly signed artists will become far less focussed on the rights to the music themselves, but other things that can generate revenue for both parties, such as concerts, merchandise and advertising. Unfortunately the weight on the music itself and the IP rights behind it will become less and less prominent due to the numerous holes that can punched by crafty internet pirates.

This doesn't mean that the role of a solicitor in the industry will become less important or insightful. If anything the recent coronavirus pandemic demonstrates the importance of drafting contracts for artists and the parties they are involved that cover all bases - such as force majeure clauses in the event of unprecedented crises whilst on tour.
Congratulations @gilo for this excellent post which has won you one of TCLA's inaugural Starred Thread Awards 😊 Thank you to everyone else for your fantastic contributions as well :)
 
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kamaveles

New Member
Sep 23, 2022
1
0
Well, some independent artists have created their own labels without signing a contract with anyone. Thanks to the internet, today is enough to have a good product, and you will get your followers. Yes, sometimes it may take you a long time. Compared with promotional tools of labels, it may be much slower. Still, if you don't want to go to labels and keep all your music rights, you can always buy different promotional services that will help you to increase the number of views on Youtube or streams on Spotify. For example, you may use this site streamingfamous.com to increase your Spotify account popularity.
 
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