Analysts have said recently that the market for music publishing rights and recordings is cooling way way down, but a few artists keep managing to sign pretty big deals. The latest is Dr. Dre, the legendary rapper and producer who has reportedly secured a deal to sell “a bundle of music income streams and some owned music assets.” Included in this purported sale would be various music royalties and some master recordings.
In an interesting twist, Dre is selling his catalog assets to two different companies: Shamrock Holdings and Universal Music. Shamrock is reportedly buying 75-90% of the rights, with Universal scooping up the remainder. The total combined sale price is in the neighborhood of…
That’s a pretty big payday even for Dr. Dre, who has a net worth of $500 million today. And that $500 million net worth is after paying his ex-wife a $100 million divorce settlement. On the other hand the sale is reported to have been shopped around at a higher asking price closer to $250 million. Perhaps there were no takers at that higher rate?
Specifics of Dre’s big payday aren’t a matter of record, but the report says it includes “passive income streams” such as royalties from online streaming for two albums from Dre’s solo catalog as well as his share of artist royalties from his NWA days. Throw in royalties from his work as a producer and his songwriter’s share in music that he doesn’t own the publishing outright for and you get a reported $10 million in mailbox money per year. This passive income makes up anywhere from 75 to 90 percent of the overall package being sold by Dre.
The most notable of those master recordings is probably that of Dre’s classic album “The Chronic.” The ownership of those recordings currently belong to Death Row Entertainment but is set to revert back to Dre this August.
As you know, Dr. Dre is no stranger to massive financial windfalls. In May 2014 Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine sold their headphone company, Beats by Dre, to Apple for $3 billion. The sale was comprised of $2.6 billion in cash and $400 million in stock. At the time of the sale, Dre and Jimmy both owned 25% of Beats. Their respective stakes were worth $750 million before taxes, roughly $500 million after taxes. The stock portion of the sale gave both Jimmy and Dre roughly 1 million shares of Apple. If they still owned 1 million Apple shares today, they would be worth around $135 million. We know that Dre has sold a good portion of his apple stake. In a December 2021 divorce court filing, Dre revealed that in the previous 12 months alone he sold $73 million worth of Apple stock and only owned a total of $6 million worth of stock… which implies he no longer owns a significant portion of the 1 million shares.
The same filing revealed that at that time, Dre kept around $182 million in cash in his checking/savings accounts.
According to the final terms of their divorce settlement, Dre will pay his ex wife Nicole a total of $100 million over two payments of $50 million.
If his music rights sale happens as reported, those checking/savings accounts are about to receive a $200 million injection.