Bringing back the hits: Mining music catalogs for gold

Traditionally, in the music industry, acts like Air Supply were only as good as their next hit. But for people like Air Supply’s Graham Russell and Russell Hitchcock, times are changing. In 2020, Bob Dylan sold his entire catalog to Universal Music for a reported $300 million. Bruce Springsteen sold to Sony Music a year later for about $550 million.

Larry Mestel’s company, Primary Wave, has been buying music catalogs since 2006. “Can you imagine Sony without Bruce Springsteen as part of their roster?” he told correspondent Kelefa Sanneh. “They were gonna have to pay whatever they had to pay to keep Bruce Springsteen.”

Two years ago, Air Supply sold a portion of their music rights to Primary Wave. The company places hits like “All Out of Love” in TV shows (like “Young Sheldon”), and in commercials, such as this ad for AAA Insurance.

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