Huey Lewis and the News have sold the majority of their catalog to Primary Wave Music for around $20 million, Variety reports. The deal includes all of the band’s music from inception through 1994, which includes hit albums like Sports and Fore!
Of the band’s 10-album discography, seven of them were released before 1994, which means Primary Wave now owns hits like “Heart of Rock & Roll,” “Hip to Be Square,” “Workin’ For a Livin’,” and the Back to the Future single “The Power of Love.” In addition to simply owning Huey Lewis and the News’ music, the deal gives the publishing company the right to use the group’s music in marketing, opening the door to synch opportunities in film and television (though let’s be honest, there’s no topping American Psycho‘s use of “Hip to Be Square”).
Lewis was diagnosed with the inner-ear disorder Ménière’s disease in 2018, which damaged his hearing so much that he retired from touring. He and the band released their last album, Weather, in 2020, and while discussing his diagnosis, Lewis implied that it may be his last release — a fact that may explain his decision to sell his catalog. As artists like Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan have done the same for an even bigger paycheck, selling one’s publishing has become a way for aging artists to financially set up their families as they near the end of their careers.
Revisit our 2020 interview with Lewis on the This Must Be the Gig podcast.