In a move to keep Bing Crosby’s music playing year-round and not just during holidays with classic hit “White Christmas” or his 1977 duet with David Bowie, “The Little Drummer Boy,” his family has sold an equal stake in the rights to the crooner’s estate to Primary Wave Music.
Videos by American Songwriter
Under the deal, which was estimated at more than $50 million, the first priority for Primary Wave is increasing Crosby’s digital footprint on Spotify with his music added to playlists.
“We want to be in business and partner with the greatest of the greats, regardless of the genre, regardless of the era,” said Larry Mestel, founder and CEO, Primary Wave, in a statement. “The challenge lies in infiltrating a new youth culture with the work of a mature artist.”
The company, which also oversees the rights and music of artists, including Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Stevie Nicks, Paul Simon, Count Basie, and Ray Charles, will also work on making Crosby’s likeness film properties more prominent.
“The way I view dad is not just through the prism of music and film,” said Bing’s son Harry. “He was a pioneer in all the different mediums and all the things that came out of that — technology and music and golf, sportsmanship and hunting. There are a lot of different things that describe the human being.” The times that he hears “White Christmas” while out in public brings a smile to Crosby.
Before his most famous holiday songs, Crosby, who died in 1977, was also an actor, winning an Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as Father O’Malley in the 1945 film Going My Way, and made several films with his friend Bob Hope. As a major recording artist, Crosby worked with artists like Louis Armstrong and The Andrews Sisters, and released hits throughout the 1930s through ’50s, including “Pennies From Heaven,” “It’s Been a Long, Long Time,” “Don’t Fence Me In,” and “Accentuate the Positive.”
“There were things that became absolutely top hits in the ‘30s and ’40s, for a sustained period of time, and they just went away,” said Crosby. “People associate dad with Christmas, but in the ‘40s and ’50s, they didn’t associate him with Christmas. They associated dad with tons of things, and that’s what I want to bring back.”
In addition to the deal with Primary Wave, the family is also looking to work on a documentary series telling Crosby’s life story.
“I miss him a lot,” said Crosby. “It’s a time of reflection. It’s not painful, it’s inspiring. It’s reassuring that with all of the things he did and as hard as he worked, that he’s being recognized again and again.”