The long-rumored deal is done at last: Courtney Love has “finally and officially” sold 25 percent of her share of Nirvana’s publishing rights, her spokesperson confirmed Thursday (April 13).
The singer — owner of her late husband Kurt Cobain’s songwriting copyrights — had been looking to take on an investor “as a partner in the proper development and exploitation of the catalog,” her spokesperson Alan Nierob said. She found one in Larry Mestel, a former executive at Virgin Records, Love’s former label, who has since formed Primary Wave Music Publishing.
Love and Mestel plan to work together to create more awareness and value for Nirvana’s song catalog, which includes hits such as “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” “Come as You Are,” “Lithium,” “All Apologies” and “Heart-Shaped Box.”
Love — who’s the executor of Cobain’s estate — previously battled surviving Nirvana bandmembers Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl before allowing the release of the Nirvana greatest-hits LP in 2002 (see “Courtney Love Sues Grohl And Novoselic, Blocks Nirvana Rarity” and “Courtney Love, Universal Music Reach Settlement; Nirvana Material Freed Up For Release” ). She later agreed to the release of the Nirvana box set in 2004 as well (see “Nirvana Box Set: Complete Track List, Details Revealed” ).
Primary Wave Publishing is estimated to have paid more than $50 million for its percentage of the Nirvana rights, which is greater than Novoselic and Grohl’s shares combined. That should help Love pay some of the legal bills she amassed for obtaining the rights to the Cobain material in the first place (see “Courtney Love Sued By Law Firm That Helped Her Win Rights To Cobain Material” ).
While some critics accused Love of manipulating Nirvana’s catalog as leverage for her own contract negotiations with Universal Music, the singer says she’s not going to misuse Nirvana’s songs when licensing them. “We are going to remain very tasteful and true to the spirit of Nirvana while taking the music to places it has never been before,” Love said in a statement.
“I am confident that between the genius of Kurt’s music, Courtney’s own creativity, and our years of experience in the music business, we can achieve something quite remarkable with these copyrights,” Mestel said in a separate statement. “My intention is to work through Courtney to figure out the best way to go about exposing this music to a new youth culture and a new generation.”
“This is a complex and unique deal, which I believe will benefit not only all parties involved, but, above all, the music itself,” Love’s manager Peter Asher said in a statement. “We believe it may become an archetype for similar deals to come. It has taken a long time to get it right.”
So far there are no announced plans to use Nirvana songs in any movies, TV shows or ad campaigns.
Asher added that they hadn’t made any specific decisions about the licensing of the songs, but he’s meeting with Mestel next week in New York to discuss and will be “consulting with Courtney every step of the way.” So far there are no announced plans to use Nirvana songs in any movies, TV shows or ad campaigns.