Stevie Nicks has sold a majority of her publishing catalog to publisher and talent management company Primary Wave, the company announced Friday, with the Fleetwood Mac star becoming one of the highest-profile artists to capitalize on the booming song publishing acquisition market to date.
Primary Wave didn’t share financial details of the sale, but The Wall Street Journal reported that Nicks sold an 80% stake in the catalog, valuing the deal at about $100 million. The deal includes several of Nicks’s biggest hits as a solo artist and member of Fleetwood Mac including “Landslide,” “Edge of Seventeen” and “Dreams,” the last of which returned the charts for the first time in 40 years after resurfacing on TikTok.
Primary Wave has previously purchased stakes in several prominent artist catalogs like Disturbed and Ray Charles.
“To say we’re excited to welcome the incredible Stevie Nicks to the Primary Wave family would be a dramatic understatement,” Primary Wave’s founder and CEO Larry Mestel said in a statement. “If Primary Wave were starting our company today, Stevie Nicks would be one of the shining pillars, a true legend among legends. She is a groundbreaking artist, and the longevity of her iconic career comes from writing songs, instantly recognizable and critically acclaimed, that stand the test of time.”
Along with the catalog purchase, Primary Wave also has access to Nicks’s name and likeness, and has established a partnership with the singer to allow her to sign new songwriters in a joint venture.
The songwriting acquisition game has grown exponentially in recent years, with companies like Primary Wave and Merck Mercuriadis’s Hipgnosis Songs Fund buying up catalogs at significantly higher multiples than the previous norm. Sources familiar with these deals have said they’ve seen purchases for as high as 30 times a catalog’s value.
These companies are taking hefty bets that they can make money by acquiring a smaller but selective catalog collection they can leverage through tv, movie and video game synch licensing as well as other copyright opportunities like merchandising.
As Mercuriadis, who recently acquired catalogs from artists like Jack Antonoff and Richie Sambora, previously told Rolling Stone: “We have 21, 22 people with 500 songs per person, versus the majors who have 20,000 per person. I want to actively manage these songs with the same responsibility that I manage artists. I hate the concept of publishing, I want to destroy that word and replace it with song management.”
Some insiders, however, expect the market could taper off under Joe Biden’s presidency, depending on what he does with capital gains legislation. Those taxes had been much lower under the Trump administration, providing more incentive for artists to sell their catalogs to face less taxes after the purchase. But these song-hungry companies won’t be going away — and in any case, may just have to pay even more to artists to keep their deals enticing.
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