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In Honor of Tina, and a Note on the Business of Catalog

What can we say about Tina Turner? Not only a brilliant performer and vocalist, but she is also a study in perserverance over hardship, victory in the face of defeat and a master at how to have a 2nd, 3rd, 4th or however many "acts" you want in life.

For a woman named Anna Mae Bullock from TN in 1939 she created a life that more that she could have imagined or dreamed, and left us some incredible music to remember her by.

Let's look at just a few of some of those songs.

Fool in Love 1960 - Ike and Tina's break out hit, depicting a love that foreshadowed a lot. "Why he treat you like he do if he's such a good man?"

“River Deep, Mountain High” (1966)

Phil Spector heard the Ike and Tina Turner Revue at a Hollywood club and desperately wanted Tina on this song as he was sure it would be a monster hit. He locked Ike out of the studio sessions completely. “I must have sung that 500,000 times,” Tina later said. “I was drenched with sweat. I had to take my shirt off and stand there in my bra to sing.” Oddly, the song barely cracked the Top 100 on the charts but it remains one of Tina's best known songs.

Proud Mary (1971)

Ike and Tina decided to do a cover of sorts of this Creedence Clearwater revival hit which as become iconic to say the least. This version became so huge that the song’s composer, John Fogerty feared that people would not remember that he had anything to do with creating the song in the first place.

Nutbush City Limits (1973)

Tina decided to try her hand at writing and "I started with the topic I knew best: my own life.” It worked out well in this high energy staple of her performing catalog.

“What’s Love Got to Do With It” (1984)

Written by the British duo of Terry Britten and Graham Lyle, “What’s Love Got to Do With It” was rejected by Cliff Richard and Donna Summer before Tina went in to lay it down. The song charted in every country all over the world solidifying Tina's comeback status as legendary. “It’s neither rock & roll nor R&B,” Turner told Rolling Stone right after it hit. “It’s a bit of both.”

“Private Dancer” (1984)

Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler wrote “Private Dancer” for his band’s 1982 album, Love Over Gold, but he never felt comfortable using it since it is sung from the perspective of a stripper. He offered it to Tina Turner, and the rest of Dire Straits recorded it with her (though Jeff Beck replaced Knopfler on guitar). The song went to number 7.

“We Don’t Need Another Hero” (1985)

This anthem is from the 1985 filmMad Max Beyond Thunderdome. Tina played Aunt Entity and gave us this selection to top off the deliciousness. The song when to number 5 on the charts and became another staple of her performing catalog.

“The Best” (1989)

Bonnie Tyler, the “Total Eclipse of the Heart” hitmaker, recorded “The Best” a year before Tina Turner. For whatever reason, it failed to do anything. When Tina decided to cover it, she added a key change, a bridge, and an Edgar Winter sax solo; and turned the song one of the defining songs of her career and a great epitaph. In terms of flat footed performers who only. need a stage and a mic, there is NO ONE better than Tina Turner.

Now that we have properly refreshed ourselves on JUST A FEW of the hits, let's think about the streaming royalties, the publishing, the sync licensing, the merch, the Broadway musical and so on. The catalog was generating hundreds of millions even before she died. Granted, she did not write all of her hits, so portions of these songs definitely sit with other creators, but for what she did own.....the return on the catalog is about to grow astronomically.

Last year Tina sold her all of her ownership of her catalog, image and likeness to German based, BMG for an undisclosed amount (but some folks think it was about 50 million). Perhaps she knew she was ill and wanted to have things squared away so that no family disputes would keep the music and legacy from moving forward. But for now until perpetuity, BMG controls the copyrights, image and likeness of Tina Turner. Her surviving husband has the payout since she didn't really live long enough to do much with it. And that is the end of the business side of the story. Hopefully all goes well and the legacy of Tina continues to be nourished, marketed in elegant, not exploitative ways, and we will remember her as she would want to be remembered.

As an indie, you may not be Tina Turner, but don't underestimate your catalog. Especially if you have songs that are syncing already, streaming well, etc. Get the business set up, the LLC set up, the will written, so that whomever will still collect on your PRO and publisher checks when you are gone, can do so easily. As we always say, the music is spiritual, but the business is not.


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