The selling of master recordings and publishing rights by recording artists has become a very big business over the last couple years. Big names ranging from Bob Dylan to Bruce Springsteen and Justin Timberlake have made hundreds of millions by selling the publishing rights while still maintaining their rights as a songwriter.
The latest group of artists to cash in on this is actually a group of solo artists and the band that they were in. Well, at least a certain era of the band. It gets a little complicated but let’s take a look at what just made Phil Collins and friends about $300 million.
Let’s go on a quick history lesson about Genesis here, because some of the band’s catalog is included in this and not all of it. There are multiple eras of Genesis but only three that people care about. The first one ran from the band’s inception in the late 1960’s through to 1975. During this time, the core line-up was vocalist Peter Gabriel, bassist Mike Rutherford, keyboardist Tony Banks, guitarist Steve Hackett, and drummer Phil Collins. There were other members that came and went, but this is the core quintet. Gabriel left in 1975 leaving Genesis as a quartet that put out two records between 1975 and 1977. Hackett would leave in ’77 and reduce the band to a trio.
The line-up of Collins, Rutherford, and Banks is also the most commercially successful version of the band that scored consistent hits around the world from 1978 clear through to 1992. This is the catalog that was sold to Concord Music for $300 million. Nothing from the Gabriel or Hackett years was included. Now, the band did release one more album in 1997 without Phil Collins, “Calling All Stations.” Whether this was included in the purchase is unknown but considering the lack of commercial success it had, it’s not like anyone really cares about it anyway.
Making this deal more lucrative for Concord is that along with that era of the Genesis catalog, they also purchased the rights to the solo work of Collins, Rutherford, and Banks. Phil’s solo career alone has a substantial number of hits, including seven number one singles and a bevy of others to hit the top 10 and top 40.
Mike Rutherford managed to have success with his band Mike + The Mechanics, with 4 top 40 hits in the US with one of them, “The Living Years” topping the charts in 1988. As for Tony Banks, eh, despite numerous solo works, none of them had much success. That being said, his influence on Genesis’ compositions is profound.
Packing all of this together for $300 million is in some ways, a steal. To get the most commercially successful era of Genesis AND Phil’s solo material is a lot. While Gabriel’s solo work and time with Genesis is often more critically well-regarded and artistically experimental, it’s hard to argue with sales figures. Gabriel’s album, “So” is considered by many to be one of the greatest albums of all time and sold 5 million copies in the United States alone. Phil’s “No Jacket Required” sold over 12 million. It’ll be interesting to see if Gabriel ever sells his publishing rights and how much they end up going for. Until then though, just imagine the brand new, stu-stu-studio, Phil could buy with all those millions!