Alice in Chains members Jerry Cantrell, Sean Kinney, Mike Inez and William DuVall have sold their catalogs with the group to Round Hill Music, a company representative has confirmed. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but sources say Variety the deal was for $50 million.
The Round Hill Agreement does not encompass copyrights belonging to the estates of original vocalist Layne Staley or original bassist Mike Starr, who died in 2002 and 2011 respectively; On Monday, their respective estates announced that they had sold their music rights to Primary Wave.
Round Hill will receive a 100% copyright interest from all four current members in the masters and edition of Alice In Chains – 94 compositions and 159 recordings – plus neighboring rights. The catalog includes rock radio staples like “Would?”, “Man in the Box,” “Them Bones,” and “Rooster.” Cantrell’s Alice in Chains compositions – the band’s primary songwriter throughout their career – are part of the pact, though their solo work is not.
“If you look at the grunge category, there was Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Alice in Chains and Soundgarden,” says Josh Gruss, founder and CEO of Round Hill. “There is such loyalty with the fan base and such quality of music. Alice in Chains’ music still holds up really, really well, and there’s nothing else like it.
The sale comes amid a parade of catalog mega-offers that have highlighted the enduring value of music. Of the 15 highest-paid musicians last year, ten made a difference by selling royalties. Alice In Chains’ loot falls in the same range as the sums received by acts from Blake Shelton to Shakira to ZZ Top (although the exact nature of the copyrights involved differs).
Formed in Seattle by Cantrell and Kinney in 1987, Alice in Chains was born during the “grunge” era of the early 1990s, but has always been slightly estranged from that scene. Their music often had more in common with classic rock than the punk and indie sounds that influenced grunge, and album radio immediately embraced them. After debuting on Columbia Records in 1990 with “Facelift”, their song “Would?” — featured on the scene-defining “Singles” movie and soundtrack — paved the way for their breakthrough, 1992’s “Dirt.” Yet the band lost momentum when Staley succumbed to drug addiction and s effectively disbanded after releasing a self-titled studio album in 1995 and an “Unplugged” album the following year. After Staley’s death in 2002, the band took a hiatus of several years before returning with a new lead singer, William DuVall, and continue to record and tour.
Although the band’s often dark and aggressive music doesn’t seem like a natural fit for such common sync uses as commercials, six of its releases have reached the top 10 of the Billboard 200 album chart – two, the EP” Jar of Flies” and the self-titled album, reached No. 1 – and all of the band’s major albums were certified multi-platinum. Additionally, the band’s songs helped form the musical backdrop of their generation. In 2020, the group received the Founders Award from Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP), formerly known as the Experience Music Project, founded in 2000 by the late Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen.
“With such a dedicated audience and enduring catalog, there’s tons of licensing potential for film, TV, and video games,” says Jordan Passman, Founder and CEO of Score a Score, a music production company and of license.
Zack O’Malley Greenburg also publishes a music industry newsletter through Substack.