In 1972, a struggling New Jersey musician hustled into Manhattan for an
audition at Columbia Records, using an acoustic guitar borrowed from his
"I had to haul it 'Midnight Cowboy'-style over my shoulder on the bus and
through the streets of the city," the rocker, Bruce Springsteen, later
recalled in his memoirs.
Half a century later, he can afford plenty of guitars. Last month Sony,
which now owns Columbia, announced that it acquired Springsteen's entire
body of work — his recordings and his songwriting catalog — for what two
people briefed on the deal said was about $550 million.
The price, which may be the richest ever paid for the work of a single
musician, caused jaws to drop throughout the music industry. But it was
only the latest mega-transaction in a year in which many prominent
artists' catalogs have been sold, fetching eye-popping prices.
The catalog market was already bubbling a year ago when Bob Dylan sold
his songwriting rights for more than $300 million, but since then it
has maintained a steady boil. The list of major artists who have recently
sold their work, in full or in part, includes Paul Simon, Neil Young,
Stevie Nicks, Tina Turner, Mötley Crüe, Shakira and the Red Hot Chili
Peppers, many for eight-figure payouts or more. The industry is abuzz
about impending deals for Sting and the songwriting catalog of David
"Almost everything now is transacting," said Barry M. Massarsky, an
economist who specializes in calculating the value of music catalogs
on behalf of investors. "In the last year alone, we did 300 valuations
worth over $6.5 billion," he added.
Not long ago, music was seen as a collapsing business, with rampant
piracy and declining sales. No longer.
Streaming and the global growth of subscription services like Spotify,
Apple Music and YouTube have turned the industry's fortunes around.
One result is a spike in the pricing of catalogs of music rights to
both recordings and to the songs themselves.
New investors, including private equity firms, have poured billions of
dollars into the market, viewing music royalties as a kind of safe
commodity — an investment, somewhat like real estate, with predictable
rates of return and relatively low risk.
The cost of office maintenance dropped significantly in the pandemic when
workers went remote, as companies saved money on services like cleaning
and security, as well as perks like dry cleaning and endless pantry
But as employees begin to head back to the office, the cost of running the
workplace is increasing.
By December, about 40% of workers had returned at least part time, although
the omicron variant of the coronavirus has put a chill on return-to-office
plans. And developers still expect that employees will be back on site in
the long run, even if hybrid work becomes more common. CP Group, which owns
and manages 32 office buildings, mostly in the Southeast and Southwest,
has bought $1.2 billion of office space since May, a wager that staffs will
More robust air filtration and newly installed outdoor spaces are among the
items that will add to developers' costs when more employees return. New
cleaning practices may make those services more expensive, and landlords
are offering new amenities to lure tenants back.
"Operating expenses were down a bit in 2020," said Kristin Mueller, chief
operating officer for property management at JLL, a real estate services
company that oversees more than 1,000 office buildings across the United
States. "For 2022 properties budgets, we are anticipating modest overall
The cost to run the office today remains lower than pre-pandemic levels
but not as significantly as many managers expected, because each savings
area has a factor that can complicate or offset it, Mueller said.
Having fewer employees on site translates to less daily cleaning and trash
collection, for instance, but those reduced janitorial services are often
countered by directives for deep disinfecting, as well as higher labor
costs for maintenance. And spending on supplies like coffee filters,
pens and paper towels may be down, but they have been replaced by
purchases like hand sanitizer and masks.
Because the coronavirus is spread through airborne transmission, one of
the most significant changes in building operation has been a focus on
air quality. Many companies are scrutinizing their ventilation, which
could involve installing more robust air filters to screen out virus
particles, for example, or replacing the building's air more frequently.