By Jeanette Brown
- Dr. Dre is selling assets, including his artist royalties from N.W.A. and two solo albums, along with producing royalties and other entities, for more than $200 million
- Hipgnosis Songs acquired a 50% stake in rap legend RZA’s catalog, including Wu-Tang and Kanye West songs
For decades, we’ve heard the woes of the music industry and that artists need to own the rights to their music. Now, Dr. Dre is selling assets, including his artist royalties from N.W.A. and two solo albums, along with producing royalties and other entities, for more than $200 million. Why is a Hip-Hop icon selling his artist and producing royalties?
Why This Matters: Publishing and catalog ownership is big business, in the billions, to be exact. Selling music assets allows artists to leverage a move from another playbook. In 1985, Michael Jackson purchased a portion of his publishing catalog for $41 million, which allowed his estate to net a 1,707% profit from its sale in 2016.
R&B / Hip-Hop has been the dominant music genre on the United States Billboard charts, becoming bigger than pop and rock and the most streamed at nearly 30% of all songs. Dr. Dre is following the lead of his hip-hop predecessors as Hipgnosis Songs acquired a 50% stake in rap legend RZA’s catalog, including Wu-Tang and Kanye West songs.
Today, being independent is a bragging right many artists reference in their music as a critical contributor to their lucrative careers. However, it’s how you get to the bag after world tours and performing in front of sold-out stadiums. It’s the long game that cements your contribution to the culture, sustains your success, and diversifies a portfolio.
Situational Awareness: Hip-Hop’s historical context provides insight into why publishing and catalog sales are significant to R&B / Hip Hop and the culture. These music themes were and still are social issues related to police brutality, poverty, incarceration, oppression, and unemployment. The lyrics document the pain on wax that shed light on a way out. Making it out of the neighborhood was a short-term goal. Michael Jackson, Dr. Dre, RZA, and many others are running a play we should all note. They demonstrate the benefits of planning for the future once you get the bag, which is to ensure your great-grandchildren won’t have to return to the pain.
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