Classic Rock Becomes Mega Bucks Rock
Does 35 years seems like a long time ago? Well it seems like yesterday in the music business. That’s because the music from 35 years ago is still in high demand, in hot rotation on the radio, and the artists who created this music are pulling down the mega bucks from concert tours, merchandise sales, and royalty checks. I mean who cares about music that is 35 years old? The answer is a ton of people.
Let’s do some quick math. Thirty five years ago was 1976. If you were around in 1976, then you may have been listening to Bruce Sprinsteen, Billy Joel, Neil Young, The Four Seasons, The Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, The Eagles, The Ramones, Steve Miller, Chicago, Aerosmith, Kiss, Heart, James Taylor, or The Doobie Brothers just to name a few. Guess what? These same artists can be heard in virtually every market in every city across the United States.
Now let’s do some fun math. Let’s say in 1976 the same phenomenon occurred. In other words, everybody was listening to 35 year old music from 1941. Drop the top, crank up the tunes, and check out some of these all time favorites:
- “A Weekend in Havana” by Carmen Miranda
- “Amapola” by Jimmy Dorsey
- “Blue Champagne” by Jimmy Dorsey
- “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” by Andrews Sisters
- “Chattanooga Choo Choo” by Glenn Miller
- “Daddy” by Sammy Kaye
- “Dolores” recorded by Bing Crosby
- “Elmer’s Tune” by Glenn Miller
- “Intermezzo” by Earl Hines
Ok, maybe some people were jamming to Jimmy Dorsey and the Andrews Sisters in 1976, but not many. In fact, the royalties the artists received from their 1941 hits are peanuts compared to the royalties artists are getting today from their 35 year old music. So what’s the big deal? The answer to that question is the big deal just got bigger.
In the mid 1970’s the American copyright laws were revised to grant musicians and other artists “termination rights.” These rights allow all of the artists named above (including the artists from 1941) to take control of their compositions after 35 years. So instead of just getting a small percentage of the royalty checks, artists who qualify under this law get 100 percent of the royalty check. This could be a landslide cha-ching for the old pocketbook.
So life is grand for these old rockers. And it will continue to be grand in the years ahead because this music somehow remains timeless. Now these termination rights still have to be sorted out in court, but my best guess is that Don Henley and all his Eagles can check into the Hotel California for the rest of their lives. No problemo. What do you think?