Musicians and fans in Florida were saddened last month by the death of rocker Lou Reed, who passed away aged 71 after complications from a liver transplant. Indeed, it wasn’t just Florida. The whole world seemed to be talking about Reed in the days after his death. All this attention led to an enormous upsurge in sales, radio play and online streams of Reed’s solo work and that of his influential former band the Velvet Underground.
In one of those situations that only makes sense in the entertainment business, Reed and the Velvet Underground were famous for being obscure. Although the Velvet Underground was incredibly influential, the band sold very few copies of its records during its brief run in the late 1960s and early ’70s. Reed had a big hit with his solo song “Walk On the Wild Side,” but other than that he didn’t sell a lot of records or get much airplay during his nearly 50 years in the music business.
That appeared to change after Reed’s death brought a huge amount of media attention to the songwriter and his career. According to Nielsen SoundScan sales of Reed’s solo work jumped 607 percent the week of his death over the week before. Sales of Velvet Underground material showed a similar jump. All this activity is likely to result in a large influx of money in the form of royalties for whoever controls the copyrights on Reed’s work.
Reed left behind a will that provided for his sister, but bulk of his estate will go to his wife, the singer and performance artist Laurie Anderson. That estate is likely to grow as the royalty money comes in.
Copyrights and royalties represent an unusually complicated area of entertainment law. When not handled well, copyrights can engender lots of expensive and frustrating litigation. Members of Florida’s entertainment industry community often need help from experienced attorneys in order to manage their copyrights and other intellectual property.
Source: CBS News, “Lou Reed leaves estate to wife, sister,” Nov. 5, 2013