The estates of Alice in Chains original lineup members Layne Staley and Mike Starr have sold stakes in their publishing rights and master recording income stream to Primary Wave, the company announced on Monday, the latest in the ever-hot song acquisition marketplace.
Primary Wave declined to disclose financial details of the sale or how much of a stake in the catalogs it now owns, but with the purchase, it now holds a stake in one of most prominent catalogs of Seattle’s Grunge scene from the Nineties. Among the hits in the catalogs the company purchased are “Man in the Box,” which Staley co-wrote with Jerry Cantrell, along with tracks like “Rooster” and “Would,” which neither Staley nor Starr wrote, but they still get royalties on from the master recordings.
Staley died in 2002 while Starr left the group in 1993 and died in 2011. While Alice in Chains put out several albums since their departures, Starr and Staley’s rights make up some of the most commercially successful records the band released.
Companies like Primary Wave and Hipgnosis Songs Fund have played significant roles in kicking off the buying spree the industry has seen for the past several years, and now major investment companies like Blackstone and KKR have partnered with music companies offering significant funds to get more rights.
Staley and Starr’s estates join an extensive list of prominent songwriters, producers, and artists who’ve sold their rights, including David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, and Stevie Nicks, the latter of which also sold to Primary Wave. Artists and songwriters of all eras have been selling their rights in recent years as companies have become increasingly willing to offer deals previously unheard of to secure copyrights. The deals have been notably attractive to older artists and estates, who’ve chosen to leave musical legacies in the hands of music companies and take a sizable paycheck instead.
“Primary Wave is pleased to partner with the estates of Layne Staley and Mike Starr to honor their musical legacies as part of the classic era lineup of Alice in Chains, who created the amazing songs and records that comprise the albums Dirt and Facelift, and the acoustic EPs, Jar of Flies and Sap,” Primary Wave’s David Weitzman said in a statement. “These projects represent the greatest works from one of the best artists of the iconic Nineties Seattle-based grunge era.”