Primary Wave Inks Song-Rights Deals With Estates of Alice in Chains’ Layne Staley and Mike Starr

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Alice in Chains in 1988. Photo Credit: Paul Hernandez

Just a week after buying an “additional” stake in the publishing catalog and recorded royalties of Def Leppard, Primary Wave has inked song-rights deals with the estates of Alice in Chains’ Layne Staley and Mike Starr.

Primary Wave unveiled the transactions – two of many that it’s finalized since receiving a $375 million investment last summer – this morning, via a formal release that was emailed to DMN. This concise document doesn’t disclose the agreements’ financial or ownership specifics, noting only that the purchases involve “a stake” in the publishing catalogs and master royalties of Layne Staley and Mike Starr.

Alice in Chains’ original lead vocalist, Layne Staley has songwriting credits on well-known tracks including “Man in the Box” (218.74 million Spotify streams) and “Nutshell” (117.89 million Spotify streams). Mike Starr was the Seattle-based rock band’s original bassist, appearing on the RIAA certified double platinum Facelift (1990) and four-times platinum Dirt (1992) before leaving the band in 1993. Starr and Staley passed away in 2011 and 2002, respectively.

The teams in charge of the song rights didn’t provide a statement for Primary Wave’s announcement message, but the purchasing party noted that the agreements will “see members of both estates gain access to Primary Wave’s entire marketing team, digital team, branding team and publishing infrastructure which includes licensing and synch opportunities.”

Addressing the purchases in a statement, Primary Wave partner David Weitzman said in part: “Primary Wave is pleased to partner with the estates of Layne Staley and Mike Starr to honor their musical legacies as part of the classic era lineup of Alice In Chains, who created the amazing songs and records that comprise the albums Dirt and Facelift, and the acoustic EPs, Jar of Flies and Sap.”

While recent months have brought deals between Primary Wave and legacy acts and creators such as America, Christian singer-songwriter Matt Redman, and “Eye of the Tiger” songwriter Jim Peterik, the 16-year-old company has also leaned heavily into pacts with the estates of ultra-popular artists.

Primary Wave in December purchased a major stake in the catalog, likeness, and real estate of James Brown, for instance, following a 15-year-long legal battle over the “It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World” artist’s music IP and possessions.

2021 also saw Primary Wave secure an interest in the work of Prince, Bing Crosby, Gerry Goffin, Luther Vandross, and Jeff Porcaro, after negotiating deals with their respective estates. Meanwhile, catalog releases – referring to tracks that debuted at least 18 months back – now account for 75 percent of stateside music consumption.

One Response

  1. Idiot Detector

    Layne Smelly was a dirty heroin addict who sang like a wounded squirrel.