One Last Good-Bye
4 min read

One Last Good-Bye

Hello, hello. Let’s do this one more time! 

The boys over at Money 4 Nothing discussed the recent BMI sale to New Mountain Capital, so please go give that listen and subscribe to their show! 

Initially, I planned to do a big post about my thoughts on the overall music industry. Maybe go into my time at SoundCloud. (Reports say they're profitable, endlessly bleeding staff, layoffs, and leaking self-reported numbers can tell any story!) Yet, truthfully I didn’t have any time to do that. Instead, I’ll keep this simple. I canceled all of the paid subscriptions for people. My annual Ghost subscription ends in June, so let’s never say never to me dropping back again, but likely it'd just be to highlight work I already published.

Truly I've been overwhelmed by all of the responses over these past couple of weeks. Apologies if I haven’t emailed you back, but don’t be shocked if you get an email the day after Christmas before I’m back in the office. It’s been great to hear about how much people have enjoyed my newsletter over the years, so thank you, thank you, thank you. I’ve said this before, but if you’re curious about my thoughts on ongoing industry matters, feel free to hit me up at, and I’m still based in Brooklyn, New York if you’d like to get a drink or coffee. Otherwise, I hope everyone reading this enjoys the holidays. 

Unheard Labor 

Earlier this month, Tidal announced 10% cuts at the company. Good luck to everyone looking for work and most of my thoughts on Tidal can still be found in this 2018 Gizmodo piece. My only update is that it’s hilarious that  Jack bought Tidal as a favor, so Jay-Z could get out of setting money on fire every quarter. Real friends

Government Tunes  

The French government appears set to impose a tax on streaming platforms to fund the Centre National de la Musique, a government research group, despite tiresome bellyaching from Deezer and Spotify. 

A Note of Financialization 

I’d like to say this won’t be my last words on the realm of song right sales. Too much money was spent on these “assets” in the last few years to not have more to say. Now with that said let’s look at the closing deals of this year. 

Enrique Iglesias sold his catalog for “nine figures” to Influence Media Partners, whose backers included the Municipal Employment Retirement System (MERS of Michigan), BlackRock, and Warner Music Group. The Pinnacle Financial Partners-backed BEAT Music Fund purchased VIVa MUSiC and the masters of Ran-D’s “Zombie” and Human Resource’s “Dominator”. (“BEAT” stands for “Best Ever Acquired Tracks”, cause why not.) Hipgnosis sold off 20,000 tracks for $23.1 million in an effort to get some cash as previous efforts to get more capital went nowhere. Last, HarbourView Equity Partners increased their credit facility by $100 million with Fifth Third Bank. The press said it was to keep buying catalogs and “general corporate purposes”, one can only speculate what those purposes must be. 

Bow Down to Our New Music-Tech Overlords - Water and Music 

Cherie Hu and the Water and Music crew pulled together a great mapping out of music tech investment, which is certainly worth a viewing to understand how money has and is moving in the industry. 

Spotify Slashes Staff to Move Faster into AI – and Wall Street Loves It - CNN / Spotify Inks Podcast Deal With Warner Bros. Discovery for CNN, HBO and More Shows - The Hollywood Reporter 

A narrative that’s trying to be built by the business and tech press is the rise of AI and its impact on the economy. The reality for Spotify is that the company wasted hundreds of millions of dollars on bad celebrity podcasts, overspent on boutique podcast firms, and is now just doing normal publishing deals for content instead of acting like they’re god. AI isn’t taking away jobs at Spotify, as nearly all of its current AI uses like its DJ or adjusting recommendations is just putting a new name on already established products. The inclusion of “AI” just makes investors happy, which appears to be the ever more explicitly stated purpose of this uninteresting firm. 

Hipgnosis Seeks New Auditor as It Faces Legal Action / KKR Hires Bankers After Approaches for Its Song Rights Catalogue / Hipgnosis Songs Fund Delays Results Over Asset Valuation Concerns - The Financial Times 

The Financial Times may be the only outlet in the world to have never bought in the music catalog narrative and we’re all better off for it, as their reporting isn’t just reprinting hype-building press releases. 

Lil Durk Sued by Fintech Startup for $12m Over Alleged ‘Fraud’ - Music Business Worldwide 

The “fraud” here is that a lotta of well paid people didn’t do any due diligence but I can’t say I’m shocked given the practices of tech startups and record labels.  

From Unicorns to Zombies: Tech Start-Ups Run Out of Time and Money - The New York Times 

Certainly, a number of music tech startups fit this mold and I’m positive numerous NFT and AI ventures will be meeting this peril over the decade. 

The Revenge of the Zero-Rate World Is Coming - Merryn Talks Money 

There was a theme I wanted to end my newsletter on today. The 2010s revival of the music industry is entirely built on zero-interest-rate era businesses and it appears obvious the creative stagnation at DSPs is shared by their label business partners. The music industry’s trajectory remains: more job cuts, higher-priced products, less investment in new talent (on stage or off), and continually desperately latches itself onto whatever new spigot of capital may emerge. Can’t say I won’t miss it.