Harry Crosby was reaching the end of his teenage years when his father, Bing Crosby, passed away in 1977. Most people recognize his smooth voice on “White Christmas” when diving into a second or third cup of hot chocolate. But, perhaps, “The Little Drummer Boy,” his duet with David Bowie, rings a bell. Without a doubt, his voice will be flooding the radio again come December.
However, Harry and his family say that their father does have a soundtrack for the other 11 months out of the year. Some of Crosby’s hits include “Pennies From Heaven,” “Accentuate the Positive,” and “Don’t Fence Me In,” and Harry wants people to be singing along once again.
“There were things that became top hits in the ’30s and ’40s, and they just went away,” Harry says. He continues, “People associate dad with Christmas, but in the ’40s and ’50s, they didn’t associate him with Christmas. They associated dad with tons of things, and that’s what I want to bring back.”
This ambition leads to the announcement that an equal stake in Bing Crosby’s estate is being acquired by Primary Wave Music, who also works with the estates of Count Basie and Ray Charles, for an estimation of $50 million.
The Sale of a Songwriting Catalog
The sale of a songwriting catalog is becoming a keen marketing decision and business endeavor in older generational artists.
Primary Wave Music’s initial course of action is to increase Crosby’s online digital profile. They strive to boost streaming numbers to acquaint him to new generations and couple that with Playlist placements. Larry Mestel, Primary Wave Music’s founder and CEO, says, “We want to be in business and partner with the greatest of the greats, regardless of the genre, regardless of the era.”
The sale of songwriting catalogs has become an excellent way to generate new business. For example, Universal Music Publishing Group purchased Bob Dylan’s catalog of more than 600 songs earlier this year. Shortly before, Stevie Nicks sold a majority stake in her songwriting catalog for approximately $80 million to Primary Wave Music. British company Hipgnosis Songs Fund announced that they’ve spent $670 million from March to September of 2021 acquiring rights in songs by Blondie, Barry Manilow, and others.
While acquiring rights for these artists typically lie within publishing, Mestel says Primary Wave scouts for ways to continue to get a name out there to continue generating a profit.
But for Harry Crosby, a lot more emotion surrounds him in December. He doesn’t think of any dollar signs.
“I miss him a lot. It’s inspiring and reassuring that with all of the things he did and as hard as he worked. It’s great that he’s being recognized again and again.”