Bob Dylan Sells Entire Catalogue in Biggest Ever Megadeal for Any Solo Musician

CULVER CITY, CA - JUNE 11:  Musician Bob Dylan Performs onstage during the 37th AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to Michael Douglas at Sony Pictures on June 11, 2009 in Culver City, California.
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On Monday, Universal Publishing Group announced it had acquired the publishing rights to Bob Dylan’s entire songwriting catalogue in a landmark deal. While terms of the high-profile deal were not disclosed, the New York Times estimates it at approximately $300 million, which would be the largest ever for music publishing rights of a single act.

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“It’s no secret that the art of songwriting is the fundamental key to all great music, nor is it a secret that Bob is one of the very greatest practitioners of that art,” Lucian Grainge, chairman and CEO of Universal Music Group, said in a statement.

The agreement, which includes more than 600 songs, will let Dylan retain 100% of his rights for the songs, as well as his control of each song’s copyright, while Universal, a division of French media conglomerate Vivendi, will collect all future income from his songs, according to various reports.

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The catalogue includes classics such as “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “The Times They Are A-Changin,'” and “Like a Rolling Stone.” Dylan’s catalogue is considered by many to be the crown jewel of song catalogues as he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2016 “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”

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“To represent the body of work of one of the greatest songwriters of all time — whose cultural importance can’t be overstated — is both a privilege and a responsibility,” said Jody Gerson, the chief executive of Universal’s publishing division, in a statement to the New York Times.

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With the pandemic halting live performances, the song publishing market has been booming this past year. Just last week, Stevie Nicks sold a share of her publishing rights to publisher and talent management company Primary Wave for $100 million.

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About the Author

Yaël Bizouati-Kennedy is a full-time financial journalist and has written for several publications, including Dow Jones, The Financial Times Group, Bloomberg and Business Insider. She also worked as a vice president/senior content writer for major NYC-based financial companies, including New York Life and MSCI. Yaël is now freelancing and most recently, she co-authored  the book “Blockchain for Medical Research: Accelerating Trust in Healthcare,” with Dr. Sean Manion. (CRC Press, April 2020) She holds two master’s degrees, including one in Journalism from New York University and one in Russian Studies from Université Toulouse-Jean Jaurès, France.
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