January 2021 Recap: Rockers Sell Catalog Rights, React to Riots
Rockers selling their music catalogs in multimillion-dollar deals dominated headlines in January 2021.
Artists also unleashed on social media throughout the month, offering targeted reactions after the U.S. Capitol riots and warning of scams impacting their fan bases. Elsewhere, on a national TV show an artist thanked a souvenir collector for preserving a 1972 rhinestone suit.
You can read our January recap below.
Artists Sell Their Publishing Rights
Neil Young and Lindsey Buckingham sold their music publishing rights in January 2021, joining a growing trend. Songwriters earn royalties for airplay and streams, but there's often more money to be made when songs are licensed for commercials, movies and television shows. When publishing rights are sold, the songwriter gives up licensing control while receiving a big lump-sum payday. Buckingham offloaded his publishing rights to Hipgnosis Songs Fund. The dollar amount was not disclosed, but Music Business Worldwide reported that he sold 100% of his rights to 161 songs released either solo or with Fleetwood Mac, along with 50% of unreleased material. Young sold 50% of his publishing rights to nearly 1,200 songs to Hipgnosis for an estimated $150 million. (Hipgnosis was founded in 2018 by Merck Mercuriadis, who has previously managed Guns N' Roses, Elton John and Beyonce.) Mick Fleetwood, meanwhile, sold the recorded music rights from his full music catalog to BMG for an undisclosed dollar amount. Rolling Stone reported the massive acquisition spanned 300 songs. The list of artists selling publishing rights also includes Def Leppard, Journey, Nikki Sixx, Richie Sambora and Stevie Nicks.
Rockers React to U.S. Capitol Riots
Thousands of President Donald Trump's supporters stormed the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., on Jan . 6, and several rock artists took to social media afterward to share their outrage and disgust. The New York Times reported more than 100 police officers were injured during confrontations with rioters. Paul Stanley of Kiss tweeted, "These are terrorists. This is armed insurrection. The flames were fanned today and over time by the president and specific senators who cannot be allowed now to distance from or denounce what they have directly caused. Know their names. This is the result of their deception. Shame." Tommy Lee called Trump a "fuckhead" and went on to tweet, "tell you covidiots to go home ... its a wrap, y'all lost, GTFOH!! And while you're at it, you get the fuck outta here too before people get seriously hurt!"
Bret Michaels Warns Fans About Scams
Poison singer Bret Michaels posted a YouTube video to warn people after criminals used his name to obtain bank account information from fans. In the video he said, "It is unbelievable the amount of Bret Michaels imposters out there reaching out to my amazing fans, friends and family, and trying to scam them. I'm telling all of you during this pandemic — people are feeling frustrated, isolated and vulnerable — please do not fall for these scumbags. I'm taking this minute right now to tell you how serious I take this — that we're going to work with Dr. Phil to help people that have been victimized by these scumbags. So please, everyone, be aware." Other scams popped up later in the year with thieves going after Eagles and Whitesnake fans. Scammers often create fake Facebook accounts for the bands and target followers using fake hashtags. They then send private messages to fans who interact and ask for bank account information.
Alex Van Halen Pays Tribute to His Late Brother
Eddie Van Halen died on Oct. 6, 2020, and his brother Alex Van Halen was publicly silent for two days before posting a short message via Van Halen News Desk. The post included a picture of Alex and Eddie as kids, posing with a rocking horse, with the note, "Hey Ed. Love you. See you on the other side. Your brother, Al." In an interview with Modern Drummer, which took place before Eddie's death, Alex said he’d always regarded Van Halen as a live band and was transparent with his struggles in the industry. “There’s nothing left in the music business. It’s a bunch of ones and zeroes," he said. "In the old days you’d get a dollar a record, and now you get 50 cents for 275,000 streams. It’s insane. It’s wrong. Now the only thing you have is playing live, which is ironic because that’s how it all started.”
A Parrot That Rocks
Tico the parrot is owned by Floridian Frank Maglio, whose YouTube channel boasts the bird's renditions of songs by Led Zeppelin ("Stairway to Heaven"), the Beatles ("Here Comes the Sun"), Van Halen ("Unchained" and "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love"), Guns N' Roses ("Patience") and Bon Jovi ("Wanted Dead or Alive"). Still, it was noted, the parrot "isn't singing the melody or any of the lyrics, but is randomly making sounds that are more or less in the keys in which Maglio is playing, and has an impressive vibrato."
Billy Gibbons Reunites With His Rhinestone Suit
Billy Gibbons appeared on an episode of the History Channel reality show Pawn Stars and surprised a customer by authenticating the rhinestone suit he wore during the '70s with ZZ Top. Las Vegas Gold & Silver Pawn Shop owner Rick Harrison said Hollywood's Nudie's Rodeo Tailors brand was the choice of "every rock star" in the '70s. Gibbons and Harrison ultimately agreed to pay $20,000 each, hoping to donate the suit to "Antone's blues museum" in Austin.