Mar 17, 2022 - Economy

Investors may have overpaid for oldies music catalogues

Average annual global audio streams vs catalog sale price for high profile deals 2020–2022
Data: Luminate; Chart: Jacque Schrag/Axios

Eager investors scooped up artists' music catalogs over the past couple of years, paying hundreds of millions of dollars for some of the most beloved boomer music from Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and Paul Simon.

The big question: Did they overpay?

  • Older acts get fewer online streams on platforms including Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music, compared to those from younger artists, according to a new analysis from Luminate, an entertainment data provider.

By the numbers: Bob Dylan is streamed three times less, annually, than the Red Hot Chili Peppers (777 million vs. 2.3 billion), but Dylan's catalog sold for more than three times as much.

  • The biggest catalog deals have basically gone to older, white male artists (and Stevie Nicks).
  • Rock made up 37% of deals last, year compared to 25% for pop and just 3% for hip-hop, FT recently reported.

Reality check: Streams are a good indicator of an artists' relevance and popularity. But they aren't everything. Well-known songs also bring in royalties through placement in film, television and commercials.

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