Iconic Band Kiss Sells Catalog for $300M in Latest Music Industry Trend

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When the final strains of “Rock and Roll All Nite” faded on Thursday, it wasn’t just the end of another concert. American rock icon Kiss had officially sold their catalog, their name and all associated intellectual property to Pophouse Entertainment Group, a Swedish company. The deal, valued over a massive $300 million, highlights the latest trend among legendary musicians selling their back catalogs for staggering, Earth-shattering amounts.

From a business standpoint, this is the virtual El Dorado, perfectly echoing the fact that catalog music accounts for a hefty two-thirds of music streamed. Furthermore, it’s no secret that streaming reels in a whopping 84% of all music industry revenue.

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While not all musicians publicize their transaction details, some reported price tags have shocked music fans and financial analysts alike, with figures hovering around half a billion dollars. Rumor has it these sums might seem trivial once the catalogs of superstars like Michael Jackson start hitting the market.

One must look no further than a few cases to grasp the enormity of this trend. Bruce Springsteen, the powerhouse voice behind hits like “Born to Run” and “Hungry Heart,” signed over his music catalog to Sony Music Group in 2021 in exchange for an estimated $550 million.

Over on the lyrical side of things, Bob Dylan, a Nobel laureate in songwriting, sold rights to his phenomenal collection spanning over 600 songs, including modern anthems like “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “Like a Rolling Stone.” The deal, marking a milestone in 2020 with Universal Music Publishing Group, was valued between $300 million and a staggering half a billion.

Last year, Sony Music Publishing made another blockbuster move, absorbing the catalog of Paul Simon. The acquisition encompassed all of Simon’s heralded solo work in addition to Simon & Garfunkel hits, breathing continued life into classics like “The Sound of Silence” and “Mrs. Robinson.”

In an unanticipated twist, Neil Young, notorious for his reluctance to commercialize his music, relinquished a 50% stake in his catalog in 2021 to British enterprise Hipgnosis Songs Fund. The deal enveloped nearly 1,180 songs, including hits “Heart of Gold” and “Rockin’ in the Free World.”

Similarly, 2021 saw Warner Music Group strike a deal with David Bowie’s estate for worldwide rights to the iconic singer’s recorded music catalog, which dates back to 1968 and includes masterpieces like “Space Oddity” and “Let’s Dance.” Details remained under wraps.

Arguably, the most headline-stealing move was pulled off by music manager Scooter Braun’s Ithaca Holdings in 2019, when it acquired Big Machine Label Group. Owned by Scott Borchetta, this group held the rights to Taylor Swift’s first six albums. Estimated to involve a figure between $300 – $350 million, this prompted Swift to re-record and release new versions of these albums.

The sensational shift concluded in 2023 with the sale of Justin Bieber’s catalog, including smash hits “Baby” and “Sorry,” to Hipgnosis. Financial details were kept confidential. But, according to Billboard Magazine, the deal was around the ballpark of $200 million.

In juxtaposition to these staggering numbers, pop superstar Shakira sold 100% of her music publishing rights to Hipgnosis in 2021, garbed in secrecy around the figures involved. Fleetwood Mac’s star, Stevie Nicks, relinquished an 80% stake in her music catalog to Primary Wave for a reported $100 million in 2020. Her band members soon followed suit, with Lindsey Buckingham, Mick Fleetwood and, posthumously, Christine McVie all capitalizing on their vast and revered music catalog.

Indeed, the music industry is undergoing a seismic shift as iconic artists sell their back catalogs in mega-million dollar deals that are redefining the value of music in the modern world.