Even Springsteen took a hit when it came to revenues from live performances and touring last year. And, Cirisano points out, these musicians' accountants know very well that capital gains taxes may change unfavorably for people holding such assets. Moreover—to be blunt—many of these musicians are senior citizens. They're planning their estates.
When Bob Dylan sold his entire songwriting catalog to Universal Music Publishing Group last year, it included music he'd written more than 50 years ago. So he's taking a lump sum now, rather than counting on royalties from whenever "Mr. Tambourine Man" goes viral on whatever platform might be most popular in a few decades. Even younger artists like Shakira and Calvin Harris recently sold parts of their back catalogs because corporations are paying so much for them.
Rob Stringer of Sony Music Group told investors this spring not to worry about the price of these acquisitions. Stocks go up and down, but lucrative music rights feel safer, he noted, due to Spotify, Apple and other streaming and subscription services.
"The number of users of paid music streaming services went up by almost 100 million in 2020 to 443 million globally, " he explained. "Many research analysts are projecting this figure to well exceed one billion by 2030. In the music publishing market, streaming is driving similar sustained growth. The publishing industry achieved its seventh straight year of consecutive expansion, rising 5.2 percent in 2020," he continued.
Synergy is also the name of the game here; when Sony buys up Springsteen's music, they can use it more easily in movies and TV made by Sony studios. Other artists on Sony labels can sample or cover his songs, and whenever a Bruce Springsteen biopic comes out, you can bet a Sony movie studio will make it.