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How long-time music executives are trying to protect the heritage of artists

Irving Azov wants to preserve the artist’s legacy and his own legacy in the age of music streaming.

Music industry completeists run several companies, including concert promoters and record labels, and have managed the largest artists of many generations, including Eagles, Bonjobi, Steelie Dan, and Nicki Minaj.

His latest venture, the Iconic Artists Group, Crowded market for music investment, And signed a catalog of songwriting and recording catalogs for Beach Boys, David Crosby and Linda Ronstadt.

Over the last five years, music rights have become more valuable as revenue from streaming on services such as:

Spotify technology SA

And

Apple Of a corporation

Apple Music has grown and music is being used more in other areas such as digital fitness, video games and social media. Songwriter catalogs have ordered selling prices 10 to 20 times the annual royalties compared to 8 to 13 times the previous price.

Azov, who was recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, raised nearly $ 500 million for Iconic from Guggenheim Securities and chose which artist he would take on as the guardian of the work of their lives. I am. He is also thinking about his own heritage and what he entrusts to his children.

“It’s great for the family,” he said.

Irving Azoff, beige shirt, 1977 Eagles.


Photo:

Blood Elterman / Film Magic / Getty Images

Azov spoke with The Wall Street Journal about copyright trends, heritage, and how pandemics changed the music business. Followed by the edited excerpt.

WSJ: What made you start Iconic?

Mr. Azov: If you do the right thing for an artist, it will be right for your own business. Not everyone with these rights seemed to be uniquely focused on increasing the value of IP in a way that preserves and strengthens the artist’s legacy. Some people have no heirs in their lives. Others have children who think they may not be able to manage their legacy the way they should.

WSJ: And what about business opportunities?

Mr. Azov: If I manage my family’s funds, especially current yields and bonds, if you’re trying to save without taking big risks, and if you’ve been in this business for 52 years, I feel better I noticed that my family has a flow. This feels like a safer and growing stream than if I were just putting money in bonds.

WSJ: Why is music a good investment?

Mr. Azov: Music withstands the challenges of time. It is essential. I have bet my career on great music. To date, it has never failed me. There is always new technology. In a business that didn’t add value to music assets and copyright, only two technologies can be considered in 50 years. One is 8 tracks and the other is

Napster

And file sharing. Other than that, ratings are booming, from glass records to vinyl records, vinyl records to cassettes, cassettes to CDs, and now from CDs to streaming.

WSJ: How does Iconic’s strategy and structure differ from other companies investing in music?

Mr. Azov: We are not a fund. We are this long-term entity and a business company that aims to build long-term value. We don’t consider ourselves the owner because everything I’ve done so far is done through the eyes of being a manager. We see ourselves as managers.

WSJ: Why is legacy management so important? And who needs to think about it?

Mr. Azov: It’s hard to imagine that an artist who spends his life creating and marketing music and images doesn’t care “what happens when I’m gone”. It’s not an overnight business, it’s a business that requires expertise, resources, and influence. I think every artist has to think about it.

WSJ: What does legacy management in Iconic look like?

Mr. Azov: At the Beach Boys, they’re not doing well. It’s well documented, but we now think it’s the glue to get them going, and I think we’ve missed many opportunities during the last decade of fighting. .. They are the American Beatles and are not so recognized. Starting with this documentary, next year will be the 60th anniversary. We planned a tribute concert to shoot and sold it to major networks. Everything from the Sirius XM channel to a traveling exhibition of all souvenirs. There are multiple offers for feature films and biographies. These are some examples of what they wouldn’t have been able to accomplish on their own because they couldn’t manage their business.

WSJ: What do you think about the enthusiasm and reputation of this music IP market?

Mr. Azov: I’m excited that the work of these great artists has finally come to be recognized as truly valuable, and I think it will be even more appreciated. Streaming isn’t over yet. New technologies will emerge. No one knew that TikTok could exist. No one knew that something like Peloton would take hold or that Apple would make a big foray into the health plus fitness business. Even at the current level, the rate of return on investment is very acceptable.

WSJ: What do you think about your heritage?

Mr. Azov: It’s been so many years that I can’t control it at this time. But I believe the company will continue. Hope they say he not only built a big business for himself and his family, but his artist became a major star and maintained their wealth under his direction. I will. Tell me whatever you want about me, I realized that there would be no business without artists, and that we treated them with respect.

WSJ: How about the ticket price? Will they go up or down?

Mr. Azov: I think they will be higher. The act wants to make up for the lost time.

WSJ: What other permanent changes will you see to get out of the pandemic?

Mr. Azov: I think the day of the award show is in serious danger. Grammy Awards, American Music Awards, Academy Awards. Movie entertainment, late-night TV shows, and morning shows are less important. I feel that such genres of music on television may not come back.

WSJ: What is your first showback?

Mr. Azov: I have already gone to my first show. I went to San Diego, Jimmy Buffett played two shows and he recorded them. It was going to be a live stream he released, but it was a show. The 800-seat club had 40 fans. That was my first gig.

Share your thoughts

How should artists manage their heritage and brand in the era of streaming? Join the conversation below.

Write to In Anne Steele Anne.Steele@wsj.com

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How long-time music executives are trying to protect the heritage of artists

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