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February 10, 2021

How to keep capitalizing on back catalog?

We’ve been talking about music catalogs buyouts here and there, and especially about the reasons behind this sudden rise of catalog acquisitions. It would have been hard to miss lately, since major artists’ sales have even triggered the general press to talk about this trend.

So, what happens after Hipgnosis, Universal Music Group (UMG) or BMG acquire these major catalogs? A lot of attention from several investors would put a bit of pressure on them to capitalize on them, and quickly. This all comes down to strategies and (new) investments to capitalize on back catalogs (meaning older tracks), integrating them in sync deals, promotion strategies or new releases. So, does it imply?

Music catalog management: re-highlighting successes

In our new era of social media, multi-faceted marketing campaigns and viral phenomena created by users can be a goldmine worth digging into when it comes to catalog management. Modern investment funds are gathering and raising money to invest on tracks and artists, planning on recreating these viral content, revitalizing older tracks. Which is in itself, a good idea. But it doesn’t happen overnight, and it means many (many) efforts to work on marketing strategies.

Let’s take one major example to get an idea of how global the reflexion might have to be. We’ve all fallen back into Queen’s madness a bit earlier. Queen has always been wildly popular and a steady rock radio station hit through the 80s and 90s. However, in the 2000s, Queen saw a major rise in popularity due to marketing and promotional efforts.

It probably started when you heard of or saw the biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” which depicted the story of the band’s singer Freddie Mercury. The film was wildly successful and promoted the music once again onto the Billboard’s ranking. This has been a pretty wide trend; biographical movies about music main figures (Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse…), and it’s still going on Netflix, with more and more modern figures (Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande…). This is a good way to push a bit of main music catalogs through these documentaries.

But let’s get back to our example. One of Queen’s biggest strengths was the push for sync licensing towards television, movies, and a variety of media. This can bring new revitalization to listeners when they least expect it and calls on them to seek out streaming to listen further into Queen’s music. Their catalog management here has been exemplary.

This induced new releases of older albums and compilations, to answer the demand on music streaming platforms. You guessed it: re-editions got the most streams; first streaming platforms placed them in playlists way more easily considering the returning fame. But it also answered the need for a smoother sound; older tracks wouldn’t sound as the majority of most streamed tracks do now. To sum up: many efforts (and financial investments) to relaunch Queen’s back catalog.

Legacy tours brought attention to the band and success in record sales which then transferred to streams in our digital era. While the band doesn’t have the legendary Freddie Mercury to sing for them, Adam Lambert joined the band for The Rhapsody Tour to support both Queen and Lambert. One final big effort to capitalize on this back catalog, reaching out to old and new audiences. It would be tough to replicate today, I’ll give you that, but this is a good example of real investment in a global strategy including sync, digital presence and even touring.

Music catalogs on tapping into Social Media

TikTok has been one of the biggest juggernauts in social media and has been paramount in the popularization of music recently. Currently, many publishers and labels like Sony Music are making deals with TikTok to attempt to promote current music and their back catalogs. 

In the same way, new songs are being promoted, older songs have been able to see a great rise in new listeners from TikTok. Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams found massive success on TikTok after a user created a video of him skateboarding, and many others followed. This viral sensation was topped off with BMG buying Mick Fleetwood’s royalties in early 2021. Again, a good way to capitalize on music catalogs.

The method with TikTok and many other social media platforms is to allow listeners to be exposed to the older music through fan-created content. However, record labels and music publishers have a lot of efforts to make by catalog management regarding marketing or partnerships to replicate these lucky shots. Supplying content to a platform as broad as TikTok is obviously not enough. It requires branding and financial investment (in ad campaigns for example).

Since Social Media is a fast paced environment, promoting according to the current events happening in the world could be a smart tactic. For example, opponents of Donald Trump celebrated his leaving the White House and wanted to express that on social media, making it a great time for promoting back catalogs. But mainly, it requires a close watch and financial investments.

Managing catalogs and royalties

Why would we work this hard to create a real return on investment on tracks? Other than allowing investors to cash back on their bets, it is also a great way to gather royalties for music professionals. Which is always welcomed during a period in which live music is not generating revenue. Maybe royalties can help the music industry a bit.

Capitalizing on a back catalog means having a clear overview of your, well, catalog, and people involved in the creation of tracks before starting to launch great strategies. This is something you can definitely do with Reprtoir’s Audio Manager, the workspace fully designed as a content management system, for audio files and music metadata.

Adding to that our brand new royalty accounting software, Royalties Manager, this would be a huge time savior on administrative operations. Get your free demo of Reprtoir’s workspace with our team, and see how it could help you focus on your music business’ strategy.

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