Business

The Business of Marilyn Manson: Here's What's at Stake Financially Amid Abuse Claims

Marilyn Manson
Miikka Skaffari/FilmMagic

Marilyn Manson performs at 2019 Aftershock Festival at Discovery Park on October 12, 2019 in Sacramento, California.

On Monday, Marilyn Manson was swiftly dropped by his label Loma Vista Recordings following allegations of sexual assault from actress Evan Rachel Wood and at least four other women. His booking agent, CAA, followed suit on Tuesday (Feb. 2), dropping him as well, and he was removed from episodes of the Starz series American Gods and Shudder’s horror series Creepshow. California State Senator Susan Rubio has now called for a Department of Justice and FBI investigation into the shock-rocker.

Manson denied all claims in a statement Monday.

For decades Manson, born Brian Warner, has been one of rock’s most recognizable figures, establishing himself as controversial from the start for his moniker that combined the names of Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe and convicted murderer and cult leader Charles Manson. The artist co-founded his act of the same name in 1989; five years later, it released its debut album, Portrait of an American Family, on the now defunct Nothing (founded by John Malm Jr. and Trent Reznor) and Interscope Records. Since then, the recording artist and his band have generated nearly 11 million albums consumptions units worth of activity in the U.S., according to MRC.

In 2015, Manson partnered with Loma Vista -- a subsidiary of Concord -- to distribute his ninth album The Pale Emperor. His following albums, 2017’s Heaven Upside Down and 2020’s We Are Chaos, were also released by the label through an exclusive licensing agreement; and last year the artist and his group generated about 103,000  album consumption units worth of activity from the Loma Vista titles, or, 36.1% of the 285,000 units Manson’s entire catalog chalked up last year.

Those three most recent albums each peaked at No. 8 on the Billboard 200 chart. We Are Chaos became his first album to hit No. 1 on the Top Rock Albums chart. Last year alone (Jan. 2 to Dec. 31, 2020), Manson’s recording catalog generated nearly $5.03 million in revenue (while his total artist royalties reached $1.034 million, bolstered by at an estimated 46% revenue split for licensing the Loma Vista releases plus more traditional royalties payouts from the group’s Interscope and other pre-Loma Vista titles), according to Billboard estimates based on MRC Data. His physical equivalents more than doubled his digital, with CDs and digital tracks accounting for the most in each category. His year-end publishing totaled just under half a million, with his estimated share totaling about $450,000, using a blended rate of 70% to reflect a likely more traditional publishing arrangement at the beginning of his career and switching to owning his publishing later in his career.

In a statement, Loma Vista said in addition to dropping the artist it would cease promoting his latest album.

If the Loma Vista albums are withdrawn from the market, without the big payday the artist earns from owning those masters, Marilyn Manson’s income last year would have been about one-third as rewarding, as the rest of the catalog where Manson doesn’t own the masters and likely not all the publishing took in about $465,000 in artist and songwriter royalties for Manson, Billboard estimates. Currently,  all of the Marilyn Manson catalog, including the Loma Vista titles, are available at the services checked by Billboard.

As for touring, pre-pandemic Manson had been a consistent earner for CAA, regularly selling $300,00 to $400,000 in tickets per night over the last two decades. His 2012-13 Twins of Evil tour with Rob Zombie was his most commercially successful, followed by the 2017-2019 trek, Twins of Evil: Hell Never Dies, which averaged $342,000 per night. In terms of highest estimated total gross, his 2012-2013 outing with Slayer, Rape of the World Tour, raked in over $28 million.

Wood met Manson when she was 18 and he was 36. They were briefly engaged before breaking up. In 2018, Wood testified in front of a House subcommittee in an effort to get the Sexual Assault Survivors Bill of Rights passed in all 50 states. On Monday, in her Instagram post, she wrote: “The name of my abuser is Brian Warner, also known to the world as Marilyn Manson. He started grooming me when I was a teenager and horrifically abused me for years. I was brainwashed and manipulated into submission. I am done living in fear of retaliation, slander or blackmail. I am here to expose this dangerous man and call out the many industries that have enabled him, before he ruins any more lives. I stand with the many victims who will no longer be silent."

Manson responded with an Instagram post of his own, in which he wrote: "Obviously, my art and my life have long been magnets for controversy, but these recent claims about me are horrible distortions of reality.”

Additional reporting by Dave Brooks.