How Can Anyone Except the Artist Own Their Songs?

We may have touched upon this previously, especially with the company Hipgnosis seemingly snapping up song rights left, right and centre but this week everything seems to have gone ballistic. How can we ever find ourselves in a situation where anyone but Bob Dylan owns Bob Dylan’s songs? Aside from Lennon and McCartney, there can be no living songwriter who best embodies the artistry and personal touch that makes music that most illusive, magical of arts.

Universal Music Group has bought both the publishing and writer shares of Bob Dylan’s inestimable catalogue, a sum of money which is clearly so eye-watering that it hasn’t been disclosed but could easily be in the region of half a billion dollars. 60 years of music owned by someone else. UMG are understandably crowing about it, though how they feel they have in some way had any of Bob’s genius (and, frankly, rubbish stuff) rub off on them, simply for paying an extraordinary amount of money is baffling. Last week Stevie Nick’s gave up her rights for $100 Million. Stevie Nicks! Stevie is 72; Bob is 79. We all have gas bills to pay but are either of them really expecting to go on a gargantuan Christmas shopping spree?

Then there’s the other side of the tracks. David Crosby, a man who has sought to steal defeat from the jaws of victory many times over the years, has put up his own catalogue for sale as, in his own words, “streaming stole my record money”. This is becoming a new dawn for suddenly waking up and realising streaming pays very little (comparatively – maybe artists needed to make significantly more hay while the sun shone). Crossers hasn’t had a taker yet but when it’s for Crosby, Stills and Nash, his solo work or any of his other ventures, it’s likely there’ll be suitors interested. However, it’s all monstrously distasteful and reminds us of the time Michael Jackson came within a gnat’s chuff of buying the rights to The Beatles’ catalogue. We say, enough of this nonsense. If streaming isn’t paying you enough, vote with your feet – take your songs down and make them available only via physical copies or your own platform. OR simply get a job. Don’t make music for money.

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