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Special Report: The Evolution of Music Licensing

By Gary Symons, TLL Editor in Chief The Bob Dylan music deal with Universal Music has shown that for musicians and music companies, the times truly are a’changin’. But, in truth, that change was coming long before Universal stroked a check for a reported $300 million to $400 million, in return for Dylan’s entire music catalog of roughly 600 songs. Also in December Fleetwood Mac singer Stevie Nicks sold 80 per cent of the rights to her catalog of songs she wrote to music publisher Primary Wave for a reported $100 million. In August, Imagine Dragons sold their catalog for more than $100 million to Concord Music Publishing. What should have gained a lot more press, however, were the other deals happening in 2019 and building momentum through 2020. For… . . . read more

Neil Young to Cash In on Music Catalogs

Canadian rock star and songwriter Neil Young is out of the blue, and heavily into the black, after selling a 50 per cent interest in his music catalog for an estimated $150 million US. As noted in this week’s Special Report from The Licensing Letter, the past four years and 2020 in particular have seen a massive increase in the value and scale of music catalog deals. Sales rose from an average of $100 million to $200 million a year prior to 2016, to more than $4 billion in 2019. Figures for 2020 are not yet out, but music rights deals are expected to hit a new and dramatic high after landmark deals with Bob Dylan, The Killers, Imagine Dragons, Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac, and many others. Young’s sale… . . . read more

“Makeup junkie” Halsey Launches Own Beauty Line

Most people, including her fans, aren’t aware that hit singer/songwriter Halsey is a self-taught makeup artist, so it makes sense she’s launching her own beauty line on Jan. 25 under the brand name about-face. “Makeup is an art and art is about happy accidents, not any one ideal of perfection,” said Halsey, Founder and Chief Creative Officer of about-face. “I always feel the most free when I am creating looks without following any rules. The beauty industry has norms, but I want to encourage people to challenge those standards and allow things to be imperfect and fun.” Halsey says she’s always taken control of her own look on stage and for music videos. Over the years she’s become a self-described “makeup junkie,” and has an encyclopedic knowledge of brands, application… . . . read more

Fashion Licensing Pioneer Ruth McCarthy Manton Dies at 95

Ruth McCarthy Manton, a pioneer in the business of fashion licensing, passed away at her home on Christmas Eve. Manton was also among the first female fashion journalists in the industry, but it was her innovative work after founding Aries Design Management that made her a force to be reckoned with in the licensing business. Manton’s idea was to link up top designers directly with manufacturers to create wide ranges of products, and to use media and aggressive marketing to get those products in front of the public’s eye. Early in her new career Manton concluded that reaching the mass market in America would require partnerships with celebrities, particularly those from TV shows and movies. Her close friend, the film producer David Gil, suggested Manton start by partnering with Jaclyn… . . . read more

#1 TikTok Star Charli D’Amelio and Family Get Hulu Series

Charli D’Amelio must have one of the fastest arcs to stardom of all time, rocketing to 100 million followers as the top TikTok user, and now getting a series on Hulu with her sister Dixie (also a TikTok star of note), and their parents Heidi and Marc. “The D’Amelio Show” will air on Hulu in 2021 as an eight-episode docuseries that follows “the first family of TikTok” as they live through the sudden transition from ordinary American family to international celebrities. “Two years ago Charli and Dixie D’Amelio were virtually unknown outside of their town, and now have over 100 million fans who tune in daily for their every move. Every teen on social media dreams of becoming famous, but what happens when the reality hits?” said Belisa Balaban, VP… . . . read more

Bad Boys Ride Together, Die Together, and License Merch Together

Is it really possible that it’s only now, 25 years after the first Bad Boys movie dropped, that one can actually buy Bad Boys’ merch? Apparently so, and shoppers have only the week before Christmas to get their hands on the Will Smith/Martin Lawrence-themed clothing line at an online pop-up shop, the badboysmoviestore.com. In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the first Bad Boys flick, the action-comedy franchise released a clothing capsule just in time for the holidays. The nine-piece collection includes T-shirts, pullover hoodies, crewneck sweatshirts, and a couple of accessories, most of which are presented in monochromatic colors. The imagery in the collection reflects the original 1995 film as well as the 2003 and 2020 sequels. You’ll see screen-printed quotes and photos of the film’s two main protagonists—Mike Lowrey and Marcus… . . . read more

Spotify Crowns Its Year With Royal Podcast Deal

By Gary Symons TLL Editor in Chief Photo by Mark Jones The audio streaming leader Spotify has literally placed a crown on the year 2020, as its burgeoning podcast business signed a multi-year partnership with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.  The royal couple recently formed Archewell Audio, and that company will now produce regular podcasts for Spotify’s 144 million premium subscribers and 320 million monthly active users. “What we love about podcasting is that it reminds all of us to take a moment and to really listen, to connect to one another without distraction,” The Duke and Duchess of Sussex said in a joint statement. “With the challenges of 2020, there has never been a more important time to do so, because when we… . . . read more

Bruce Lee and Me: Apparel that Honors the Past While Making a Better Future

Guest Column by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Aristotle said that a friend is a single soul dwelling in two bodies. Bruce Lee and I were friends like that but, man, our two bodies couldn’t have been more different. Bruce was a 5’8” Chinese-American martial artist and I was a 7’2” African-American basketball player. There were other differences: he was raised in Hong Kong, I was raised in New York City. He was outgoing, charismatic, a born performer. I was shy, quiet, bookish. Our contact point was a shared love of martial arts, but we soon found more common ground in our mutual interest in music, books, movies, history, and philosophy. Our many late-night discussions revealed another, more fundamental similarity: we both came from marginalized people and shared a passion to do everything… . . . read more

Plaster Partners Signs Instagram Fitness Influencer Isaac Boots

Plaster Partners, the lifestyle agency founded by Michael Catalano and Brittany Straede, has announced the signing of Instagram fitness star Isaac Boots for exclusive management.  Boots, whose real name is Isaac Calpito, is a celebrity trainer and choreographer who was dubbed the “breakout star of virtual fitness” by The New York Times earlier this year. Calpito has an impressive roster of celebrity clients, including Kelly Ripa, Vanessa Hudgens, Lisa Rinna, Jessica Chastain, and Lucy Liu, among others, but he is a performer in his own right. Calpito is also a choreographer and Broadway dancer with a formidable list of stage credits to his name.  He is the creator and instructor of TORCH’D, a widely followed fitness regimen available on his @issacboots Instagram account or on  issacboots.com. In March of this… . . . read more

Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Gets Into Book Biz With Random House

Recording artist and producer Jay-Z is getting into the book publishing business, and in a big way, thanks to a deal with Random House. The publishing giant announced this week the launch of a new publishing imprint with Roc Nation, the entertainment company founded by Shawn “JAY-Z” Carter. Called Roc Lit 101, the imprint will be devoted to publishing books at “… the dynamic intersection of entertainment and genre-defying literature, including exhilarating, innovative work from some of the biggest artists and writers of our time on a wide range of subjects such as music, sports, pop culture, activism, and art.” Random House says Roc Lit 101 will be overseen by Chris Jackson, the current Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of One World books, and Jana Fleishman, EVP of Roc Nation. “The goal of Roc… . . . read more


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