Payday to some of music’s biggest names: Bruce Springsteen sold the rights to his catalog for a reported $550 million last year. Bob Dylan struck a similar deal in late 2020 for an estimated $300 million. Paul Simon’s catalog changed hands for $250 million. And by early 2022, David Bowie’s estate had earned at least $250 million in a deal that spanned titles from nearly 30 albums.
This music rights gold rush stems from both the explosion of music streaming and tunes on TikTok, and the ever-increasing need to provide global video services like Netflix with soundtracks for their shows and movies. Now, Duetti, a clandestine venture co-founded by two former broadcast executives, wants to turn the practice around. Rather than paying big salaries to famous artists, the company aims to make deals with small artists and help their old songs explode.
Duetti is headed by Lior Tibon, former COO of Tidal, and Christopher Nolte, who spent two years acquiring content for Apple Music after doing the same at Tidal. The duo secretly released Duetti this summer and in recent weeks have begun to quietly approach artists about buying the rights to their songs.
Duetti says it’s “democratizing access to catalog monetization”
Offer: Duetti will buy the rights to songs it determines are already performing well on streaming services. The company then further develops these songs with the help of playlists, influencer partnerships and other forms of optimization, and over time purchases the rights to additional songs from partner artists.
“Our goal is to financially enable all artists to pursue their professional or personal aspirations,” Duetti says. Angerstates that the company is “democratizing access to catalog monetization opportunities.” Duetti did not respond to requests for comment.
Duetti’s plans to uncover the long queue for music rights are as ambitious as they are indicative of wider changes in the music industry. Not long ago, groups and their companies were only focusing on their latest albums, with older albums gathering dust on the shelves. Now, these old tunes have real money making potential.
Duetti has been working under the radar since Tibon and Nolte founded the company this summer, with a bare-bones website promising musicians fair pay for their back catalog “one piece at a time”. The duo’s LinkedIn pages simply describe them as co-founders of a clandestine venture, with no direct links to the company’s equally minimalist LinkedIn presence.
Public records show that the company was first registered in Delaware in May, followed by New York and California in August. A filing with the California Secretary of State lists Tibon as CEO and CFO, while Nolte officially serves as secretary. Duet IP Inc., a related organization, registered Duetti’s trademarks in July. According to company documents, Duetti raised $7 million in startup funding in July; funders include Hollywood-based Presight Capital and an unnamed music company.
A public staging website for the company is a little more blunt in its speech: “Duetti exists to provide artists with serious money for their catalogs.”
Duetti has already begun courting elite artists. It offers to purchase the rights to select songs directly or to pay for a significant percentage of ownership. One of the named artists Anger He’s keeping these discussions confidential for reasons of privacy, saying he was interested in a particular song from the company’s back catalogs that was already performing well on streaming services. A Duetti representative suggested that the song alone could have a five-figure value for the company and indicated that it may be interested in purchasing the rights to additional titles in the future.