InterActive Legal subscriber, Dan Scott, has written extensively about a shift in how estate planning will be thought of in the near future. Instead of an emphasis on planning to avoid taxes, Dan suggests linking an estate plan to one’s life purpose…. More “Legacy Planning” than merely wealth transfer for the sake of retaining generational wealth. In a previous article that appeared in Forbes, Dan writes:
“Gone are the days of planning for your death. It’s time to plan for your life.”
“The reason traditional estate planning is dead is that it has nothing to do with happiness or helping you live a fulfilled life. Estate planning simply addresses what happens when your die. It only plans for the two inevitable certainties of life: death and taxes. What about planning for all of the uncertainties in life, the choices you make and ultimately control? What about planning to build the life you will ultimately leave behind when you die?”
In the post that follows, Dan conjects three reasons singer-songwriter Bob Dylan may have sold his music catalog…all consistent with his previous musings about making such moves to enhance a living legacy.
Why, you ask? The short answer, and the one that has fans and the internet grumbling, is money.
Estimates put the value of the sale in the $300-400 million range. So, to pull a line from Mel Brooks’ Spaceballs, he didn’t just do it for the money, he did it “for a shit load of money!”
Of course, the question does not (or at least should not) stop there. You see, money has no intrinsic value. The value of money is derived from its application—that is, what we choose to do with the money. In other words, money is really just a tool to be used in order to achieve some other goal.
So, the real question, and one I pray Bob Dylan answered before selling his catalog, is what purpose or goal will the proceeds from the sale of his catalog be used to achieve? Here are a few possibilities:
1. To Expand Bob Dylan’s Legacy and to Enhance His Impact on Society and Culture.
What most people fail to realize is that you are always potentially more than you have already accomplished in your life. Bob Dylan has been a figure in American folk and pop culture for decades, and his songs have touched countless lives. But that is the past, and the impact of his music, while historically relevant, has and will continue to become increasingly less relevant over time.
Therefore, Bob Dylan’s message—what he stands for as an artist, what inspires him to create—is being received by a much smaller audience today than it was 30-40 years ago.
What most people fail to realize is that you are always potentially more than you have already accomplished in your life.
I have no doubt that Bob Dylan will continue to be creative (being creative is not something you can just turn off) and to make music (in fact, his deal apparently excludes the rights to future songs), he just may be thinking of new ways to be creative and to have the funds to freely pursue those expanded endeavors.
For example, many associate Bob Dylan with anti-war songs like, “Masters of War.” Well, what if the proceeds from the sale of his catalog were intended to fund an organization that creates anti-war policies and legislation? The possibilities are limitless.
2. To Build the Legacies of his Children and Future Generations.
Bob Dylan has always seemed uncomfortable with the sort of savior he has been made out to be by the general public, and he has always downplayed his own relevance. Maybe what happens to the art he has created does not mean all that much to him. Maybe he feels that his work has taken on a life and significance all of its own that belongs more to the public now than it does himself. Rather than carry the burden of managing his own creative legacy, perhaps Bob Dylan thinks he can do more good by focusing on the lives of his children and future generations and by financing their way out of his shadow to uncover and fulfill their own life purpose.
Celebrity can be a blessing and curse, and for the children of celebrities it is very often the latter. If properly structured and managed, the $300-400 million could ensure that the true potential of his descendants is realized and not limited by being a direct descendant of Bob Dylan.
3. To Provide For Financial Stability and Retirement.
It is unclear whether selling his catalog could have a financial planning decision around funding his lifestyle and retirement.
I have read articles claiming that “Bob Dylan doubled his net worth” with the sale of the catalog and that before the sale he was estimated to be worth hundreds of million of dollars already. The problem with all of this is that we do not know what Bob Dylan owned beside his catalog.
For many successful artists like Bob Dylan, the bulk of their wealth is tied up in the value of their music publishing catalog, which can lead to real cashflow problems. While recently there has been a boom around buying and selling music catalogs, they are largely considered an illiquid asset. In addition, there is no clear science behind how to value a music catalog, which presents all sorts of problems when it comes to traditional estate and tax planning.
So, selling his music catalogue could be a decision rooted in taking the future uncertainty out of the value of the assets, as well being able to invest in more liquid assets.
Another factor to consider when it comes to the incentive to sell now for the sake of financial stability is the uncertain impact that COVID-19 will have long-term on the music industry.
My only wish is that he did so to further his own life purpose, for his own happiness and sense of personal fulfillment, as a necessary step towards his own self-actualization. Otherwise, what was the point?
There are plenty of other reasons why Bob Dylan may have sold his music catalog. The point is that in order to understand why, and before you can pass judgment, you have to look beyond the money and to the underlying purpose. My only wish is that he did so to further his own life purpose, for his own happiness and sense of personal fulfillment, as a necessary step towards his own self-actualization. Otherwise, what was the point?
Daniel J. Scott is founder and principal of Scott Law, PLLC, in New York, New York. Dan spent over 12 years at some of the best law firms in the world. Determined to bring that same level of expertise and service to a broader range of clients at a fixed and more affordable cost, Dan set out to launch his own practice in 2014. His unique style and brand of providing legal services and advice is refreshing, effective and greatly appreciated (many clients call him the “un-lawyer”.) As a musician and writer, Dan uses his creativity and personal experience to find innovative solutions and assist clients in achieving their own greatest success.
For more information and writings by Dan Scott, please visit Spotlight.