In an estimated $50 million-plus deal announced Monday, Bing Crosby’s family sold an equal stake in their property rights to Primary Wave Music in an effort to get younger audiences to hear his music, the Associated Press reported.
Harry Crosby said that people associate his father with Christmas, but in the 1940s and ’50s, he didn’t.
“He added dad tons of things, and that’s what I want to bring back,” Crosby said. “There were things that became absolutely top hits in the ’30s and ’40s for a constant amount of time, and they just went away.”
Catalog writing sales have become a rapidly growing business, but are mostly comprised of rock artists who write their own music, including Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and Stevie Nicks.
“We want to be in business and partner with the greatest of people, whatever genre, whatever era,” said Primary Wave CEO Larry Mestel.
The Primary Wave also deals with the estates of Count Basie and Ray Charles.
For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.
A generation has come to know Crosby exclusively for television shortly before his death through the duet of “White Christmas” and “The Little Drummer Boy” with David Bowie. Few remember Crosby’s days as a major recording artist and movie star.
Some of his hits include “Pennies from Heaven,” “It’s Been a Long, Long Time,” “Don’t Fence Me In” and “Accentuate the Positive.”
Crosby, who died in 1977, won an Academy Award for Best Actor for playing a priest in the 1945 film “Going My Way” and went on to make seven “Road” films with his friend, comic Bob Hope. His association with golf is also remembered, as he created the first Pro-Am tournament and was reportedly a member of 75 golf clubs.
Crosby’s family, which includes his widow and two of Harry’s siblings, is interested in a documentary series to tell Bing’s story.
Mestell said that Primary Wave’s first priority is to increase Crosby’s digital footprint, promote his profile on Spotify, and add his music to playlists.
The challenge is to infiltrate the new youth culture with the work of a mature artist, he said. Unlike many rock-era artists involved in such deals, Crosby is clearly not there to showcase or promote his work.
But while song publishing is at the center of many such deals, Meestel said that Primary Wave takes a comprehensive look at ways to get an artist’s name out there and, of course, make money from his likeness or work. He sees immense potential in Crosby’s film properties.
“The way I look at dad isn’t just through the prism of music and film,” Crosby said. “He was a pioneer in all the different mediums and everything that came out of it – technology and music and golf, sports and hunting. There are many different things that describe a human being.”
When he hears “White Christmas” outside in public, Crosby has a smile.
He said, ‘I miss him a lot. “It’s a time for reflection. It’s not painful, it’s inspiring. It’s reassuring that she’s being recognized over and over again for everything she did and the hard work she put in.”