There’s a serious new player in music catalog acquisitions – and he just bought the rights to Robbie Robertson
To make a splash in the music catalog acquisition game these days, you better come up with a unique strategy.
After all, the giants of the financial space – be it KKR, Blackstone, Apollo and others – are now funding nine- and even ten-figure music rights buyouts.
Olivier Chastan knows this world well: he was previously CEO of Irving Azoff’s Iconic Artists Group, which last year acquired catalogs from Beach Boys, David Crosby and Linda Ronstadt.
Today (February 4), Chastan unveiled his very own Acquisition Vehicle – based in Los Angeles Iconoclast — with a headline-grabbing rights deal already signed and sealed.
Iconoclast has purchased Robbie Robertson’s music publishing and NIL (name, likeness and likeness) rights, as well as his recorded music interests, spanning his career to date.
Robertson wrote and performed on a string of hits for legendary rock band The Band, including The weight, the night they drove Old Dixie Down and On Cripple Creek.
Robertson also produced the genre-defining concert film The last Waltzdirected by Martin Scorsese, and has also cultivated a rich career as a solo artist, film composer, producer, author and actor.
(An anomaly: The underlying publishing rights to The Band’s 1968 debut album belonged to Bob Dylan and was acquired by Universal as part of its 2020 Dylan catalog buyout; Robertson retained the share of the writer.)
Olivier Chastan tells MBW that Iconoclast has strong financial backing.
When we suggest out loud and thoroughly that his company can “compete or even exceed” funding from any of the big M&A players in today’s music market, Chastan responds: ” I am aware of recent fundraising, and this statement is factually correct.”
That’s a big comment: we don’t need to remind you that the likes of Blackstone (via Hipgnosis) — among others — have committed over $1 billion to music acquisitions in recent months.
(MBW sources tell us that Iconoclast is backed by Pimco, which has over $2 trillion in assets under management. Chastan declines to comment on this suggestion.)
To be frank, Chastan seems rather disinterested in talking about the purchasing power of Iconoclast.
The US-based French executive is much more energized discussing Iconoclast’s strategy, which he says will differentiate itself from many in the market by emphasizing “global brand management and an artist’s legacy, not just their musical rights”.
Since Chastan quietly launched Iconoclast last fall, he says the company has made five separate music rights acquisitions.
Chastan adds that Iconoclast has a “strong focus on technology,” including immersive entertainment and blockchain.
He comments, “We want to drive the conversion to make legacy artists relevant in the future of entertainment.”
“We want to drive the conversion to make legacy artists relevant in the future of entertainment.”
Olivier Chastan, iconoclast
This approach manifested itself in an NFT sale last month, which saw Iconoclast team up with electronic music icon Giorgio Moroder and RM Sotheby’s.
This partnership led to the sale of a “supercar plus NFT” package, including the original 1988 Cizeta-Moroder supercar owned and inspired by Moroder.
The package sold at auction in Arizona in late January for US$1.36 million, exceeding Iconoclast’s initial expectations.
As part of the deal with Robbie Robertson, Chastan reveals, the band’s musician has joined Iconoclast’s board of directors — a signal, the exec says, of the closeness his company seeks to build with artists and legendary songwriters.
Chastan de Robertson says, “My passion for Robbie’s music started when I first heard Music by Big Pink like a 13 year old kid. His sophisticated and cinematic songs changed my life and never left my musical universe.
“Our partnership with Robbie illustrates our commitment to preserving and developing culturally significant art into the future. Our focus on developing innovative brands and emerging technologies ensures that existing and new fans will continue to discover Robbie’s incredible music over the years.
“I’m also delighted to welcome Robbie as Creative Advisor to Iconoclast, where he will bring his invaluable taste and artistic insights.”
“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.”
Robbie Robertson added, “Olivier’s deep appreciation for artistry and creativity infused with his vision for the future of entertainment convinced me that Iconoclast was the right partner to entrust the legacy of The Band and from 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.The music industry around the world