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The death of cultural transmission
April 3, 2019 | FT Alphaville | By Jamie Powell.

music publishing = the business of licensing songs for films, television and advertising.

Valuing [a record label's] music catalogue is... crucial for anyone looking to bid for a stake in the business.

Despite the prominence of new music, established artists are still fundamental to recorded music's success. .......So let's think about these golden oldies as assets. Assets whose appeal has, arguably, only been heightened by the advent of streaming which, with its recurring revenues and growing audience, has made recurring payments from established acts even more bond-like in their cash flow consistency.
But like fixed-income assets with long durations, these cash flows are also sensitive to the smallest assumptions about their future viability. Assumptions which are not as rock solid as some investors might imagine. Let's use The Beatles as a point of reference here, as "The White Album" was UMG's fourth best-selling album last year. (If you're asking “why The Beatles?” Well, Alphaville likes The Beatles, sure. The Fab Four could easily be replaced by its other legacy acts, such as Queen and Nirvana).

But the problem for a prospective buyer is why we're a fan. To put it simply: we had no choice. We were indoctrinated.

On a long car journeys to coastal summer holidays, or at home on a knackered JVC stereo, we, like many of our friends, were limited to a dozen or so records (jk: finite resources). One of which, inevitably, would be some form of John, Paul, George and Ringo (and George).

Call it the cultural transmission effect. Music would be passed on generation to generation, amplified by the relative scarcity, physical space constraints and high prices of recorded media.

This provided a boon for the major labels as it not only meant lower marketing costs but reissues, limited editions, and remasters became an easily repeatable trick, as younger generations grew up to become consumers themselves.......The Beatles, Rolling Stones and Bob Marley are after all, great artists. Their music will live on. But that's not the question for a perspective investor.

The question is: to what degree will the royalties from these artists continue to flow? Assume Sir Paul and Sir Ringo will continue to grow exponentially richer off the back of streaming, and perhaps the quoted multiples don't look quite so mad. In this age it's hard to find assets which both grow, and have semi-predictable cash flows.

But if the next generation doesn't hold the same affinity to the artists which defined the first fifty years of the pop era, where does that leave the labels' back catalogues? May we suggest: in a tougher spot than most imagine.
Apple_Music  artists  assets  Beatles  biopics  bonds  cultural_transmission  digital_strategies  finance  finite_resources  golden_oldies  hard_to_find  indoctrination  legacy_artists  music  music_catalogues  music_labels  music_publishing  platforms  Rollingstones  royalties  Spotify  strategic_buyers  streaming  superstars  U2  UMG  valuations 
april 2019 by jerryking
Think Again: Debt Relief,
November/December 2001 | Foreign Policy Magazine | By William Easterly
William_Easterly  debt_relief  Bono  U2  moral_hazards 
october 2011 by jerryking

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