Catalog cover

Will Roger Waters’ comments on Israel derail Pink Floyd catalog sale?

Although there has been no official word, legendary British rockers Pink Floyd have been buying up their catalog of recorded music and other assets for several months, seeking up to $500 million, according to the Financial Times, with both major music companies and investment firms as the highest bidders. But sources say a bombshell new interview with founding member, main songwriter and shareholder Roger Waters – in which he makes lengthy remarks about Israel, Ukraine, Russia, the US and other issues policies that could politely be described as controversial – at least gives a potential buyer cold feet and seems likely to cause others to rethink their positions.

For years, Waters has spoken out about politics in the press and at his concerts, Israel’s most controversial politics. But the new Rolling Stone interview raises (or lowers) the bar considerably. While interviewer James Ball does his best to challenge some of Waters’ more outlandish statements, the former Pink Floyd singer insists that some Jews in the US and UK bear responsibility for the actions of Waters. Israel “because they pay for everything”; that well-documented accounts of Russian war crimes in Ukraine are “lies, lies, lies”; that the United States is “the worst [country in the world] at all by a factor of at least 10 times”; that Russia’s brutal military involvement in Syria is justified because “they were there at the invitation of the Syrian government” (which is headed by one of the world’s deadliest dictators, Bashar Assad), and more Again. (See a 12,000 word transcript of the interview here).

On a purely commercial level, Pink Floyd’s catalog of recorded music, not to mention its merchandising rights, is one of the most valuable in contemporary music, with classic albums like ‘Dark Side of the Moon’, ‘The Wall”, “Wish You Were Here”, “Animals”, “Meddle”, “Piper at the Gates of Dawn”, “More” and more. And after the catalog sales of Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen (both for around $600 million), Neil Young, Stevie Nicks, James Brown (all around nine figures) and many more, it’s one of the most lucrative and desirable known to be on the market.( Song editing is not included in the potential deal with Pink Floyd.) The managers – Waters, Nick Mason, David Gilmour and the estate of the late keyboardist Rick Wright – are all late ’70s and presumably reminiscent of estate planning, but sources say various considerations such as quest Fiscal ions, rising interest rates, falling value of the pound sterling, fears of a global recession and the prospect of an even higher price have delayed the process.

In the past, potential buyers – which FT says include Sony Music, Warner Music, BMG, Primary Wave and Blackstone-backed Hipgnosis Songs Capital – have likely ignored or dismissed Waters’ comments while focusing on the prospect of holding recorded music rights to songs like “Money”, “Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2”, “Wish You Were Here” and dozens more. (Representatives of these companies declined or did not immediately respond to Variety‘s requests for comment.) But it’s hard to imagine Waters’ comments won’t alienate or even eliminate some potential buyers – sources say at least one may walk away because of them – and at all the less, it would certainly seem to lower the value of the catalog.

“The other band members must be pissed,” a source said.

The members of Pink Floyd, which first formed in 1965, have always had rocky personal relationships, despite becoming one of the most commercially successful rock bands in history. The group originally broke up in 1983 after Waters had increasingly become the group’s dominant songwriter over the previous decade (Wright had left a few years earlier). In the mid-1980s, Gilmour reunited the band as Pink Floyd sans Waters, toured stadiums and released several albums, while Waters pursued a solo career and played considerably smaller venues.

Over the decades, the band members have argued over virtually everything – the recent release of a remastered edition of the band’s vintage ‘Animals’ from 1977 was delayed for months due to disagreements over notes of Waters’ understudy, which he eventually posted on his website with a sarcastic note. about other members – yet the band were always aware of the value of their catalog and were very far-sighted about their ownership: although the band participated in the box set craze of the 1990s, they withheld most of the large amount of archival material in their vaults until catalog rights reverted to them, and in 2016 began a lavish reissue campaign that includes dozens of previously unreleased songs, alternate versions, live recordings and videos. The first of these, “The Early Years 1965-1972”, was released in 2016 as a 2-CD set and a gargantuan 33-disc deluxe edition for $699. Although many expected the next set to feature the band’s commercial peak years from 1973 to 1980 – which include “Dark Side of the Moon”, Wish You Were Here”, “Animals” and “The Wall” – the band instead released a collection of less popular material from the 90s. Why? Because the catalog is much more valuable with this cutting-edge material still in the vault, which would allow the buyer to publish it.

Sources claim that the rights to the band’s name and likeness are also included in the deal, which also significantly increases the value. The rights to the “Pink Floyd” name would presumably allow the new owner to host a number of events and experiences under the name – fans of a certain age will remember the popular “Laser Pink Floyd” light shows 80s and the like. And while the likenesses (faces) of the intentionally low-key band members are far less recognized than, say, the Rolling Stones, sources also claim that the rights to the band’s album cover are also included in the deal. . Although the details of this are uncertain (artist Gerald Scarfe, for example, would appear to retain at least some rights to his work for “The Wall”, for example, which also featured in the 1982 film of the same name), the property of the ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ pyramid artwork, the pig floating above London’s Battersea power station on the cover of ‘Animals’ and the burning man on the cover of ‘ Wish You Were Here” would seem like an exciting prospect for anyone with the knowledge and ability to market it effectively.

To what extent will Waters’ comments taint and devalue these assets? In a time when country superstar Morgen Wallen can shout a racial slur, have it captured on video, and actually see an increase in streams and sell out arenas, maybe not as much as it sounds. But while great art can be made by people doing or saying horrible things, the impact of Waters’ statements may be less on the general public than the entity that decides it’s worth giving tens. millions of dollars to someone who would make such comments. publicly.