Keith Richards on Why The Rolling Stones Haven't Sold Their Catalog

Don’t expect The Rolling Stones to jump on the music catalog bandwagon any time soon. The 60-year-old band will not be contributing to the massive music catalog yard sale that’s currently going on in the music industry right now.

There’s a reason why mostly aging artists have suddenly decided to sell their life’s work either in part or entirely. They want to make sure their catalogs are safe and sound before they retire. It’s understandable.

However, The Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards doesn’t think the band is quite there yet.

Keith Richards on why The Rolling Stone haven’t sold their music catalog yet

Richards said The Rolling Stones are unlikely to join the growing list of artists who have sold their catalogs. He discussed the issue during a recent interview with CBS Sunday Morning (per Rolling Stone).

“Mick and I have not spoken about it on a serious level,” he said. “I don’t know if we’re ready to sell our catalog. We might drag it out a bit, put some more stuff in it. The only thing about selling your catalog… it’s a sign of getting old.”

Rolling Stone reports that The Rolling Stones haven’t released an album since 2005’s A Bigger Bang. However, Richards said they are working on it at record speed. “I was working with Mick last week, and [drummer] Steve [Jordan], and we came up with eight or nine pieces of new material, which is overwhelming by our standards.”

So, there may be some more “stuff” to put in The Rolling Stones’ catalog after all.

The list of artists who’ve sold their catalogs is growing

So far, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Stevie Nicks, Bruce Springsteen, David Bowie, and many more have sold their catalogs either in part or completely.

In January, Dylan made a $200 million deal with Sony Music Entertainment that will give the company all of Dylan’s recorded music since 1962. According to CNN, Dylan previously sold a portion of his catalog to Universal Music Publishing Group for a reported $300 million.

Young sold a significant portion of his catalog for $150 million to Hipgnosis Song Fund. Meanwhile, in November, Nicks made a $100 million deal with Primary Wave for a portion of publishing rights to some of her biggest hits, including “Edge of Seventeen” and “Landslide.”

Springsteen also made a deal with Sony Music in December valued at $550 million for his recording and songwriting rights. In a statement, he said he was “thrilled” that his legacy would be looked after “by the company and people I know and trust.”

Most of the artists who’ve sold are getting up in years. So Richards’ comment, “The only thing about selling your catalog… it’s a sign of getting old,” seems partially true. It’s not just older artists who are selling.

It’s a good time to sell

According to Billboard, the value of music is only going up, so whether you’re an aging rock star or not, it’s a good time to sell. While artists like Paul McCartney and Taylor Swift have safeguarded their catalogs, others can’t resist the deals.

“It is a great time to sell, especially last year when capital gains taxes were going to go up under the Biden administration. Everyone was trying to sell before December 31 so it wouldn’t be taxed [as high]. Bob got in under the wire like a lot of these other artists,” Hannah Karp, editorial director at Billboard, told CNN. “If artists were ever going to sell their music rights, now is a great moment because they won’t get these prices forever.”

This is one of the biggest reasons to sell now, but there’s also something else older artists have to consider too. Some aging rock stars sell their catalogs to ensure their legacy is protected.

“A lot of the artists that are selling their catalogs are getting to a point in their lives where they are planning their estates, sort of planning for the future and they are at a point in their lives where it makes sense to sell their music to provide for their families,” Karp continued.

However, for younger artists, Karp warns: “Owning music assets is like owning a retirement fund.” So, when The Rolling Stones sells their catalog, we’ll know they’re ready to throw in the towel and retire.

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