The Band’s Robbie Robertson has joined the growing catalog-sale party and sold his music publishing, recorded interests and name, image & likeness rights to Iconoclast, a new firm founded by Olivier Chastan, the former CEO of Irving Azoff’s Iconic Artists Group. The news was first reported by Music Business Worldwide.
The acquisition covers Robertson’s entire six-decade career, from his early 1960s compositions with early outfits like the Hawks to his classic songs with the Band to his solo and film soundtrack material.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but sources tell Variety the deal was for around $25 million, for a catalog including such iconic songs as “Up on Cripple Creek,” “The Shape I’m In,” “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” and more.
The share is smaller on “The Weight,” possibly Robertson’s most classic song, since the publishing on that song and others from the Band’s classic 1968 debut album is owned by Bob Dylan — a move Robertson has pinned on the late Albert Grossman, who managed both acts at the time — although Robertson retained his writer’s share. Dylan’s ownership was revealed as part of his nearly $400 million publishing-catalog sale to Universal in 2020.
Robertson, 78, joins others of his generation — including Dylan, Paul Simon, Neil Young and others — in taking advantage of the recent boom in music rights, presumably with a long view toward estate planning, leaving their heirs with money rather than a valuable but deeply complicated asset.
While the reported $25 million take for such an illustrious body of work may seem low in light of recent catalog sales like ZZ Top’s catalog for $50 million or $90 million for Motley Crue’s recorded-music rights alone, considering the age of the catalog, the comparatively low number of radio hits and the low percentage on recorded interests — most of Robertson’s catalog is owned by Universal Music — it makes more sense.
As part of the deal, Robertson has joined Iconoclast’s board.
At Iconic, Chastan helmed such catalog acquisitions and the Beach Boys, David Crosby, and Linda Ronstadt. He founded Iconoclast last fall and tells MBW that he has already made five separate music-rights acquisitions. MBW cites sources as saying that Iconoclast is backed by Pimco, which has over $2 trillion in assets under management.
Last month the company teamed up with disco-electronic music hitmaker Giorgio Moroder and RM Sotheby’s for a sale that combined an NFT sale and a very fancy-sounding car that reeled in $1.36 million at an auction last month.
Chastan told MBW, “My passion for Robbie’s music started when I first heard Music From Big Pink as a 13 year-old kid. His sophisticated and cinematic songs changed my life and have never left my musical universe.
“Our partnership with Robbie illustrates our commitment to preserving and growing culturally significant art into the future. Our focus on innovative brand development and emerging technology ensures that existing and new fans will continue to experience Robbie’s incredible music over the years.
“I’m also delighted to welcome Robbie as a creative advisor to Iconoclast where he will contribute his invaluable taste and artistic insights.”
Robertson added: “Olivier’s deep appreciation for art and creativity infused with his vision for the future of entertainment convinced me that Iconoclast was the right partner to entrust with the legacy of The Band and my catalog.”
Peter Paterno and Michael Rexford of King, Holmes, Paterno & Soriano, LLP represented Iconoclast, and Gary Stiffelman of GSS Law represented Robbie Robertson in the transaction.