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Robbie Robertson sells his music catalogue to newcomer Iconoclast

TORONTO — Robbie Robertson is taking a load off with the sale of music rights for his six-decade career.

TORONTO — Robbie Robertson is taking a load off with the sale of music rights for his six-decade career.

The 78-year-old Toronto-born performer has struck a deal with Iconoclast, a new Los Angeles investment firm, for ownership of his recorded interests and music publishing rights covering his career to date.

Robertson's career spans an array of defining rock songs, including his early work with the Hawks, influential hits "Up on Cripple Creek," "The Shape I'm In," "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down," as well as work on the scores on numerous Martin Scorsese films.

Financial details were not disclosed for the agreement, which also covers Robertson's name, image and likeness rights.

The transaction is the latest in what has become a whirlwind of music rights acquisitions. 

It kicked off around the start of the pandemic as older artists looked for an exit plan from their assets and younger musicians searched for financial stability as tours became an unreliable source of income.

Iconoclast is a newcomer to the scene headed by Olivier Chastan, who previously oversaw the purchase of music catalogues for David Crosby and Linda Ronstadt at Irving Azoff's Iconic Artists Group.

Other players have also positioned themselves as leaders in the growing marketplace.

Hipgnosis Songs Fund, operated by Middleton, N.S., native Merck Mercuriadis, struck a number of major deals last year, one of the biggest being a 50 per cent stake in 1,180 of Neil Young's songs.

In Canada, Kilometre Music Group entered the market with a focus on homegrown acts. The firm has secured 50 per cent of songs from Ottawa rapper Belly's catalogue, including his co-writing work on numerous hits from The Weeknd.

Robertson's deal positions Iconoclast as another aggressive entrant on the hunt for marquee names.

Within it, the company gets a smaller piece of the Band's greatest hit "The Weight," since the underlying publishing rights for that song and the 1968 album it appears on were owned by Bob Dylan, who sold it to Universal as part of another transaction in 2020.

Robertson has joined Iconoclast’s board as a creative adviser. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 4, 2022.

David Friend, The Canadian Press

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