Bob Dylan Sells His Entire Songwriting Catalog to Universal Music

Bob Dylan’s memoir “Chronicles: Quantity One” opens in 1962 with the signing of his first music publishing deal — a contract for the copyrights of the budding songwriter’s work. The phrases of that settlement, brokered by Lou Levy of Leeds Music Publishing, met younger Dylan’s approval.

“Lou had superior me 100 {dollars} towards future royalties to signal the paper,” he wrote, “and that was high quality with me.”

Fifty-eight years, greater than 600 songs and one Nobel Prize later, the cultural and financial worth of Dylan’s songwriting corpus have each grown exponentially.

On Monday, the Common Music Publishing Group introduced that it had signed a landmark deal to buy Dylan’s total songwriting catalog — together with world-changing classics like “Blowin’ within the Wind,” “The Occasions They Are A-Changin’” and “Like a Rolling Stone” — in what stands out as the greatest acquisition ever of the music publishing rights of a single act.

The deal, which covers Dylan’s total profession, from his earliest songs to the tunes on his newest album, “Rough and Rowdy Ways,” was struck immediately with Dylan, 79, who has lengthy managed nearly all of his personal songwriting copyrights.

The value was not disclosed, however is estimated at greater than $300 million.

“It’s no secret that the artwork of songwriting is the elemental key to all nice music, neither is it a secret that Bob is without doubt one of the very biggest practitioners of that artwork,” Lucian Grainge, the chief government of the Common Music Group, mentioned in a press release saying the deal.

Jody Gerson, the chief government of Common’s publishing division, added, “To symbolize the physique of labor of one of many biggest songwriters of all time — whose cultural significance can’t be overstated — is each a privilege and a duty.”

Dylan had no remark, a spokesman mentioned.

The deal is the most recent and most high-profile on this yr’s buzzing marketplace for music catalogs, as artists each younger and outdated have offered their songs, whereas publishers and traders have raised billions of {dollars} from each private and non-private sources to shut these offers.

Final week, Stevie Nicks offered a majority stake in her songwriting catalog for an estimated $80 million to Major Wave Music, an impartial writer and advertising and marketing firm. Hipgnosis Songs Fund, a British firm that has made a fast run out there in simply two and a half years, lately disclosed that it had spent about $670 million from March to September buying rights in additional than 44,000 songs by Blondie, Rick James, Barry Manilow, Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders and others.

Dylan’s catalog, nevertheless, is without doubt one of the music world’s final jewels — a trove of songs that reshaped folks, rock and pop and impressed numerous artists. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2016 “for having created new poetic expressions inside the nice American track custom.”

Dylan can also be the form of author whose work music publishers particularly salivate over. Not solely has his work stood the check of time, however most of his songs have been written by Dylan alone and have been steadily coated by different artists — with every use producing royalties. In response to Common, Dylan’s songs have been recorded greater than 6,000 occasions.

Music publishing is the aspect of the enterprise that offers within the copyrights for songwriting and composition — the lyrics and melodies of songs, of their most elementary type — that are distinct from these for a recording. Publishers and writers acquire royalties and licensing charges any time their work is offered, streamed, broadcast on the radio or utilized in a film or TV industrial. (The recent sale of Taylor Swift’s first six albums coated solely that materials’s recording rights. Swift signed a separate publishing take care of Common in February.)

Streaming has helped carry the complete music market — publishers in america collected $3.7 billion in 2019, in accordance with the Nationwide Music Publishers’ Affiliation — which has drawn new traders interested in the regular and rising earnings generated by music rights.

Dylan’s deal contains 100 % of his rights for all of the songs of his catalog, together with each the earnings he receives as a songwriter and his management of every track’s copyright. In trade for its cost to Dylan, Common, a division of the French media conglomerate Vivendi, will acquire all future earnings from the songs.

Music publishing has been a little-known cornerstone of a lot of Dylan’s profession. The songs he recorded with the Band in 1967, for instance, which have been extensively bootlegged on the time and later collected in Dylan’s 1975 album “The Basement Tapes,” have been supposed as demos to be shopped to different recording artists. And far of Dylan’s enterprise empire is operated by means of the Bob Dylan Music Firm, a small workplace in New York that administers his publishing rights in america. (Elsewhere world wide, his catalog has been administered by Sony/ATV.)

The deal contains greater than 600 songs unfold throughout a lot of publishing corporations that Dylan has had over time. Excluding his unique Leeds Music deal — which included seven songs, amongst them “Track for Woody” and “Talkin’ New York” — Dylan ultimately took full management of all his copyrights from these catalogs; Leeds was sold in 1964 to MCA, which turned Common.

The brand new take care of Common doesn’t embody any of Dylan’s unreleased songs. It additionally doesn’t cowl any work Dylan writes sooner or later, leaving open the likelihood that he may select to work with one other writer for that materials.

The Common deal additionally contains Dylan’s shares in a lot of songs he has written with different songwriters, though of the greater than 600 titles included within the deal, there is just one by which Dylan shouldn’t be a author, however nonetheless owns the copyright: Robbie Robertson’s “The Weight,” as recorded by the Band.

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