Time(lessness) is Money
I am not steeped in all aspects of today’s ever-festering and largely rancid popular culture, but I have kept—and continue to keep—a finger fixed firmly upon its arrhythmic pulse for purposes of ongoing socio-cultural defenestration and periodic disembowelment.
Much ado has been made in recent years about iconic (there’s that worn-out word, again) musicians selling the rights to their entire music catalogs for often astonishing gobs of money. Probably the first—and perhaps still the most notorious—“score” of this kind, the one that may have set the trend, was Michael Jackson’s prescient snapping-up of the Beatles catalogue ages ago … much to the curled lip of competing bidder Paul McCartney himself.
Admittedly, the Jackson purchase was a coup; the Beatles were and are as iconic as any constellation of amusement-purveyors in the entertainment firmament and will likely remain so as long as humans overcrowd the planet. Other artists have since made similar bank: Bruce Springsteen; Sting; maybe even Bob Dylan (? —I can’t remember); a slew of others with varying and often questionable proximities to what I’d call genuine “icon status”.
Now, we learn that the Great Justin Bieber has sold his catalogue of “music” for over $200M to some people who buy Great Musical Catalogs and I frankly have to wonder about the wisdom of this perpetually mad rush for the rights to archival tunes.
To my thinking, such lavish expenditures are (or should be) contingent upon distinctly enduring qualities associated with any given “act”. After all, these catalogues are intended for longterm flogging and diversification in the marketplace of the Depraved New Future. A certain amount of across-the-board acclaim and gravitas ought to be part and parcel of any body of work that commands $200M, ne c’est pas?
Basically, how in the living fuck is Justin Bieber raking in that kind of dough for his shit?
All honor and respect to the target audience of The Bieb, an audience that is just now segueing from thumb-sucking to navel-gazing and making Western civilization an even more colossal paragon of whining, grievance-peddling, attention-deficient Disarray. But just how enduring is Justin Bieber’s oeuvre, I ask?
I mean, take Joni Mitchell, for example. She is perhaps the only female singing-songwriting genius with a catalog of music that not only equals that of, say, Bob Dylan and the Beatles in terms of widespread acclaim, but her creative contributions proved to be part of a documentarian movement inextricable from a generation and cultural watershed that actually possessed a worthy iconic status greater than the sum of its parts (The 1960s).
What would Joni Mitchell’s brilliant catalogue fetch on the speculative music market?
Who, short of having undergone a transorbital lobotomy, would bet that Justin Bieber’s music will be more crucial to flying-car advertising and/or more worthy of general cultural preservation fifty or one hundred years hence than the music of Joni Mitchell? Or the warblings of Conway Twitty, for that matter.
To wit, a number of financial analysts have been raising eyebrows of skepticism at the viability of such obscene buyouts, especially when the musical “goldmines” being collected are more akin to ears of tin.
I have to wonder, as well, but in this wrecked and stupefied era, one should not be swift to astonishment about anything. Just wait until major corporations start purchasing back-catalogues of porn for eye-bleeding sums and boasting about future earnings potential and tumpty-tumpty.
Yeah. You know it’s just around the corner. But then again, so are the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, so at least there’s that.
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