Music publishers are splurging hundreds of millions buying up back catalogues, but it’s a shortsighted strategy

Maybe half of a Neil Young is worth $150m. For fans for whom his songs have soundtracked their weddings or holidays, their heartbreaks and joys, I am sure that he is priceless. But $150m (£112m) is what investment firm Hipgnosis Songs Fund is estimated to have paid for 50% of the rights to his songs.

Many of us have used the last few months to have a clearout and music legends appear to be having a lucrative car boot sale of their own. Last month, Stevie Nicks sold 80% of her songwriting catalogue to Primary Wave, a deal valued at $100m, according to the Wall Street Journal. Bob Dylan, too, sold the rights to his entire back catalogue to Universal Music, for an undisclosed sum, rumoured to be in excess of $300m. It’s enough to make the art world look frugal.

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