Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Preparing for Heaven’s Door: Why Selling Song Catalogs Is Savvy Estate Planning for Bob Dylan, Neil Young and More

BobdylanAlmost 60 years ago, Bob Dylan enraged the folk music world—specifically, the purists—when he took a step into the rock scene with an electric guitar strapped over his shoulder.

Those same purists may have some words about Bob Dylan's decision to sell his "precious" song catalog to a multinational conglomerate for nearly $400 million. 

One might argue that selling one's music catalog is analogous to selling one's soul. However, when taking a closer look at the structure and purpose of such deals, it actually makes sense. 

As we get older, we often consider what we will leave behind and to whom we will leave it behind. Although most of us do not have music catalogs to consider, we do consider valuable things like property, vehicles, stocks, bonds, and other miscellaneous items. 

In the case of a famous musician, they have music royalties and other things to consider, as was the case for Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and others. 

Over the past few years, with music streaming market booming, musicians have a lot to consider regarding the rights to their music as the value of such assets has grown significantly. We saw a huge spike in the selling and purchasing of music catalogs during the pandemic when artists were not allowed to tour. 

Due to the evolving market, it makes sense why Bob Dylan decided to sell his catalog, master recordings, and his personal archive for nearly $650 million.

See Jem Aswad, Preparing for Heaven’s Door: Why Selling Song Catalogs Is Savvy Estate Planning for Bob Dylan, Neil Young and More, Variety, April 21, 2022. 

Special thanks to Joel C. Dobris (Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.


Estate Planning - Generally, Music | Permalink


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