Bob Dylan’s entire back catalogue bought in nine-figure deal
Written by Gavin on 7th December 2020
Bob Dylan’s entire back catalogue of hundreds of songs has been acquired by Universal Music Group in a nine-figure deal.
The agreement, one of the largest in recent years, covers the copyrights to 600 of the 79-year-old US musician’s tracks, from 1962’s anthemic Blowin’ In The Wind and 1964’s The Times They Are A-Changin, to this year’s acclaimed Murder Most Foul.
It is understood that the catalogue was acquired from the artist himself.
Someone with knowledge of the deal has told Sky News it is worth nine figures, and The New York Times estimated it at more than $300m (£226m).
Universal Music Group (UMG) – which is headquartered in Los Angeles – is among the world’s largest publishing companies and represents songwriters and their back catalogue including Sir Elton John, Bernie Taupin, Adele, Abba, Coldplay and The Clash.
Jody Gerson, chairman and chief executive of the company’s publishing division, said: “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.”
In recent years, Dylan’s catalogue of music has been administered by Universal rival Sony/ATV outside the US and by the singer-songwriter’s own operations inside it.
One of the music industry’s most influential and ground-breaking artists of all time, Dylan emerged from New York City’s Greenwich Village folk music scene in the early 1960s.
Born in Minnesota, Dylan was also the first songwriter to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2016, with the Swedish academy crediting him with “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”.
His songs have been recorded more than 6,000 times by a wide variety of artists from Adele to Jimi Hendrix, who have found both commercial and critical success with covers.
The news follows recent high-profile UMG signings including Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish and Kendrick Lamar.
Sir Lucian Grainge, chief executive of Universal Music Group, said it is “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”.
He added: “Brilliant and moving, inspiring and beautiful, insightful and provocative, his songs are timeless – whether they were written more than half a century ago or yesterday.
“I have no doubt that decades, even centuries from now, the words and music of Bob Dylan will continue to be sung and played – and cherished – everywhere.”