As artists starved of touring income because of coronavirus pandemic restrictions cash in on old classics, there are plenty of takers. According to music industry sources, the feeding frenzy for publishing rights has effectively doubled the value of such catalogues in the space of five years. Huge pools of money, which normally find a home in assets such as property or infrastructure, are backing companies such as Hipgnosis, Round Hill Music, Primary Wave and Concord.
This situation has also led some artists to re-evaluate the value of their songs. The chief catalogue officer at Hipgnosis is Amy Thomson, who used to manage Seal and advise Kanye West. She says artists once held on to their song rights until they needed a lump sum, perhaps to pay for a divorce or to ease into retirement when reunion tours were no longer possible. But that is changing rapidly. “With the advent of Spotify, 30 million records woke up and got a new life,” she says.