Bruce Springsteen sold the rights to his catalog last year for $550 million.Bob Dylan signed a similar deal in late 2020 for an estimated $300 million. Paul Simon’s catalog was sold for his $250 million. And in early 2022, David Bowie’s fortune has secured at least $250 million in deals that include titles from nearly 30 albums.
This gold rush in music rights is due both to the proliferation of music streaming and songs on TikTok and the growing need to provide show and movie soundtracks to global video services such as Netflix. Now a secretive startup co-founded by two former streaming-his executives, Duetti wants to upend the practice. Instead of paying big name artists big money, the company is trying to sign smaller artists to help blow up their old songs.
Duetti is led by Lior Tibon, Tidal’s former COO, and Christopher Nolte, who spent two years acquiring Apple Music content after doing the same for Tidal. The duo secretly launched his Duetti this summer and in recent weeks began quietly approaching artists to buy the rights to their songs.
Duetti says it’s “democratizing access to catalog monetization.”
Suggestion: Duetti buys rights to songs they determine are already performing well on streaming services. The company then squeezes out more of those songs with the help of playlists, influencer partnerships and other optimizations, and over time buys rights to additional songs from affiliated artists.
“Our goal is to enable all artists to further pursue their professional or personal aspirations,” Duety explains in an internal document. The Barge, the company says it is “democratizing access to catalog monetization opportunities.” Duetty did not respond to a request for comment.
Duety’s plans to unleash a long tail of music rights are as ambitious as they mark a broader shift in the music business. , old albums were collecting dust on the shelves. Now these nostalgic songs have the potential to be real moneymakers.
Duetty raises $7 million, promising artists ‘big money’
Duetti has been operating in a low profile since Tibon and Nolte launched the company this summer. The bare-bones website promises that the musician will get paid well for backing her catalog “one song at a time for her.” Her LinkedIn pages for the two only indicate that the two are co-founders of the Stealth startup, with no direct link to the company’s equally minimal LinkedIn presence.
The company was first registered in Delaware in May, followed by New York and California in August, according to public records. A filing with the California Secretary of State lists Tibon as his CEO and CFO, with Nolte officially serving as secretary. Affiliate Duet IP Inc. registered the Duetti trademark in July. Dueetti raised his $7 million seed round in July, according to company documents. Funders include Hollywood-based Presight Capital and an unnamed music company.
Duetti’s public presence is shrouded in mystery, but the startup is more active with potential partners and employees. In the documents reviewed for this article, Duetti describes himself as a music fintech startup that “aims to provide financial solutions that empower independent artists in new ways.” In those same documents, the company says it will “build a world-class team to create new ways of sourcing, pricing, acquiring, aggregating and monetizing music.”
The company’s publicly accessible staging website makes a slightly more outspoken pitch.
Data is key to catalog monetization
Duet has already started courting some artists. We offer to either buy the rights to choose the songs outright or pay a significant percentage of ownership.one of the artists with that name The Barge The company said it was interested in one particular song from its past catalog, which it withheld because these discussions are private. suggested it would be worthwhile, and indicated that it may be interested in purchasing rights to additional titles in the future.
Duetti now appears to use third-party tools to identify songs with millions of plays on its streaming service as potential acquisition targets, but the company does not collect this kind of data internally. I am planning to do in Norte is looking to hire data scientists and data engineers at LinkedIn, explaining that “our data team…is at the heart of everything we do.”
Startups can improve performance with playlist placement and influencer campaigns
Duetti hopes to not only use the data to find songs to acquire, but monetize them. In a job listing that has not been widely circulated, the company is seeking to “implement new cutting-edge strategies to improve the performance of his Duetti song catalog on music streaming platforms, as well as other revenue-generating opportunities.”
According to the list, getting more plays for these songs could include “organic and paid media campaigns, playlists and other placements, influencer marketing and other social media opportunities.”
Duetti also plans to release some of its data tools to help artists understand the value of their catalog before signing a deal. “These are tools used to give artists detailed information about the value of their work,” the company says in its designer job listing. “Today’s artists don’t have this kind of valuable information anywhere else. Duetti aims to become the de-facto standard.”
Kate Bush and 420doggface show that anything is possible
Past catalogs have become serious money makers for some artists. According to Midia Research, more than $12 billion was spent on him acquiring catalogs in 2021 alone. Some of these deals, like the deal Bob Dylan made in 2020, only cover rights to songwriting. Like the acquisition of Bruce Springsteen’s catalog, it also includes the rights to the actual sound recordings.
One of the reasons for this gold rush is the changing nature of the music business, explains Midia music industry analyst Tatiana Cirisano. Not only did her store take up far less shelf space than Spotify, but the industry’s reliance on album sales was also limited. “We just monetized our first sale,” says Cirisano. When fans bought the album on her CD and played it years later, the artist got nothing.
For streaming services like Spotify, older catalog titles can bring in a lot of cash over time. On streaming services, “songs can have a much longer revenue profile,” Cirisano said.
Music fans aren’t the only ones rediscovering decades-old songs. With video streaming services like Netflix investing billions in original content, these companies also need an ever-growing catalog of music for their movies and shows. Not only does this bring direct revenue to rightsholders, but it could have a real snowball effect for Spotify.
Netflix and TikTok helped blow up old songs again
Streams of Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” increased 8,700% earlier this year after being featured in the latest season. stranger thingsA joint study by the two companies found that when an artist’s song is featured on a Netflix show, the rest of the catalog doubles for streaming.
Netflix placements aren’t the only way catalog titles find new audiences. Sometimes all you need is a dude on a longboard with some vibes and a chug of cranberry juice.
When TikToker 420doggface208 went viral in late 2020 with a video featuring Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams,” the song re-entered the Billboard charts 43 years after its initial release. And “Dreams” topped his Apple Music chart after Mick Fleetwood himself responded with his TikTok video of himself. “If TikTok has taught us anything, it’s this: anything goes,” Cirisano said.
Historically, most catalog sellers have been white, male, and celebrities
This message hasn’t quite penetrated many of these music rights buyers, who tend to focus on big names like Springsteen, Dylan, and Bowie. “Most Big Deals to date have been old, white, male, and US/UK centric,” said Cirisano.
But spending hundreds of millions of dollars on an album that was a smash hit when it was first released decades ago may not be the best way to monetize music for the TikTok generation. , is not only a better indicator of future success than yesterday’s radio charts, but social media and algorithmic playlists are also shifting the music we listen to to the long tail. The number of new chart-topping artists has been declining for years, and some industry observers are ready to declare that TikTok has killed the pop star.
“The music industry is changing rapidly,” agreed Cirisano. But this long tail, she argued, is also an opportunity to monetize the hidden gem of a small artist, her transition to listening. “There is an opportunity for companies to focus more on their niche,” she said.