Image Credit: Steve Harvey

‘I Walk The Line’ and ‘Great Balls of Fire’ among songs included in the reportedly $30 million sale.

The music catalogue bonanza continues. Sun Records, one of the biggest labels in rock ‘n’ roll history that released the first recordings by Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley, has been acquired by Primary Wave Music.

In the 1950s Sun Records was one of the key labels responsible for the rise of rock‘n’roll and rockabilly. It was founded by Sam Phillips and sold to Shelby Singleton in 1969. The late Singleton’s brother, John, is staying with the company after the sale. In a statement he said:

We are extremely pleased to pass the Sun Records baton to Primary Wave and are confident that they will continue to reach new heights for the crown jewel of the music business created by Sam Phillips, which my brother, Shelby, and I have kept alive and relevant for the past 50 years.

 John Singleton, Sun Entertainment Corporation President

The deal doesn’t include Sony-owned Elvis Presley’s records, but every other recording made by Sun Records is now owned by Primary Wave. Songs in the label’s 6,000 song masters collection include Cash’s ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ and ‘I Walk the Line,’ Jerry Lee Lewis’s ‘Great Balls of Fire’ and ‘Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On’, Carl Perkins’s ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ and the Dixie Cups’ ‘Chapel of Love.’

Primary Wave will reportedly seek to expand the Sun Records brand and work on the company’s advertising, branding, digital plans, and licensing and synch opportunities.

In December 2020 Primary Wave bought a majority of Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks’ publishing catalogue. It also owns half of Whitney Houston’s songs. CEO & founder Larry Mestel said in a statement:

Sun Records is the original home to some of the biggest legends in music. Sam Phillips treated all of his artists with the utmost respect and provided a space of creativity [like] no other. His vision for Sun aligns perfectly with the creative ethos of Primary Wave, and I am overjoyed that this historic label is now a part of our family.

Larry Mestel, Primary Wave CEO & founder

Music rights sales are big business. In the age of Spotify and other streaming services, investors are drawn to music royalties for stable revenue and the value of catalogues has shot up. Investors are rushing to buy now in case the bubble bursts. As a result everyone from Bob Dylan to Mick Fleetwood is selling their masters.