Pink Floyd has reportedly been shopping around its catalog for a nearly $500 million deal, but recent comments from founding bassist Roger Waters could put the potential sale in jeopardy. Though no official word has come from the psychedelic rock act or any potential buyers, one interested party told Variety he has gotten “cold feet” and that others may follow.
Selling off one’s publishing deals is the latest craze for legacy acts, with artists such as Bob Dylan, Stevie Nicks, Bruce Springsteen, and many more cashing in for huge paydays. Sources claim that Waters, guitarist/vocalist David Gilmour, drummer Nick Mason, and the estate of late keyboardist Richard Wright are planning to do the same and have been feeling out the market for the best deal, with the Financial Times reporting Sony Music, Warner Music, BMG, Primary Wave, and the Blackstone-backed Hipgnosis Songs Capital as interested parties. Though they were reportedly inching toward a nearly half-billion dollar deal, explosive new comments from Waters in Rolling Stone may sink the deal.
In the 93-minute interview with James Ball, Waters doubles and even triples down on some of his recent headline-grabbing opinions. Most notable are his views on the Russian war in Ukraine, with Waters calling evidence of Russian war crimes “lies, lies, lies” and saying that Vladimir Putin‘s 2015 invasion of Syria was justified because “they were there at the invitation of the Syrian government.” Waters has previously drawn criticism for his views on Israel, something he drudges back up by saying that Jewish people in the U.S. and U.K. are responsible for Israel’s actions “because they pay for everything.” And there’s plenty more where that came from.
While controversy is nothing new for Waters, his comments on the Israel/Palestine conflict date back to 2006 when he visited the West Bank Barrier, it is now running the risk of making some investors “Run Like Hell”. The particulars of the potential Pink Floyd deal are unique because it doesn’t include the publishing rights to the band’s songs but it does include the members’ image and likeness and at least some of the album artwork. While Pink Floyd’s faces aren’t quite as recognizable as The Beatles or The Rolling Stones, ownership of the name Pink Floyd would allow the proprietors to stage any number of officially-sanctioned events (laser rock show, anybody?). The deal would also include unreleased material from the band’s back vault, a profitable asset as Pink Floyd has yet to release any substantial trove of material from its 1973–1980 commercial peak.
While internal relations in the Pink Floyd camp have been fraught since well before Waters left the group in 1985, this latest quagmire can’t be helping. The group’s latest squabble centered around Waters’ disputed liner notes for an Animals reissue that was held up for four years and finally arrived just last month. If these guys delayed an extremely lucrative box set release because they couldn’t agree on whose idea it was to record the cash register at the beginning of “Money”, there’s no telling what suffering a multi-million dollar loss might do.