Maverick’s Guy Oseary (Madonna, U2), and Heather Parry, president of Live Nation Film and Television, have signed on to co-manage the estate of Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain. Cobain’s daughter, Frances Bean, and widow, Courtney Love, brought in the Beverly Hills-based firm, which will oversee the name, likeness, artwork, digital and licensing for the singer-songwriter who died in 1994.
Says Oseary: “Heather and I are humbled to come on as co-managers to the Kurt Cobain to support Courtney Love and Frances Bean Cobain in protecting and celebrating a legacy that is important to us all.”
Kurt Cobain’s estate is also represented by the United Talent Agency, whose co-head of talent Chris Hart says, “Nirvana was the soundtrack to so many lives including my own. It’s a true honor to work alongside Courtney and Frances to preserve this amazing legacy and share it with the next generation of fans.”
Nirvana, the pre-eminent alternative rock band of the modern era, sold 9.4 million copies of its 1991 major-label debut album, Nevermind, in the United States, according to Nielsen Music. Throughout its career, the group’s catalog has moved 27.6 million units. It was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014, a momentous occasion not just due to the honor received, but because Love, who had over the years been a party to contentious legal wrangling concerning Cobain’s songs and Nirvana’s music, and surviving members Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic mutually extended an olive branch.
Estate management, once a business that rarely made headlines, has increasingly become a music profit center, with iconic acts like Elvis Presley, Janis Joplin, The Ramones and Tupac Shakur seeing an extension in the life of their songs, images and legends. “Managing an estate is not the music business. It’s the pop-culture legacy business,” says Jeff Jampol, whose company Jam Inc. counts the estates of The Ramones, Joplin, The Doors and Otis Redding on its roster. “The music represents an entry point, but estate management is an entirely different field — the media we deal with are books, documentaries, retail, apparel, museum exhibits … It’s about reanimating the body of work and putting it forward into the conversation, then all revenue streams will follow.”
Larry Mestel of Primary Wave, which managed Nirvana’s publishing until 2013 (and licensed Cobain lyrics for a line of Converse sneakers), has faith in Oseary and company “staying true to the legacy of the artist.” While he says there is a “learning curve” to managing a career posthumously, especially Cobain’s, which was notoriously anticommercial even while he was alive, “good marketing minds adjust to the brands they have to work with.”