Bob Dylan Sells Entire Catalog to Universal Music Publishing Group

Bob Dylan performing live. Photo Credit: Alberto Cabello

Bob Dylan has sold his entire catalog to Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG) in a deal that’s reportedly worth in excess of $300 million.

Universal Music Publishing and Bob Dylan unveiled the potentially record-setting sale today, in an official release. Per this concise announcement message – which doesn’t disclose the exact price of the reported $300 million+ sale – UMPG now owns 100 percent of the 79-year-old’s song catalog, including north of 600 copyrights from across Dylan’s more than six-decade-long career.

The Duluth, Minnesota, native’s self-titled debut album became available in 1962, and Bob Dylan released his 39th studio album, Rough and Rowdy Ways, in June of this year. “The Times They Are a-Changin’” (1964), “Like a Rolling Stone” (1965), “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” (1973), and “Hurricane” (1976) represent just some of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and Légion d’Honneur recipient’s most famous works.

More broadly, the UMPG release indicates that Dylan’s songs have been covered more than 6,000 times to date, including by The Beach Boys (on their 1965 Beach Boys’ Party! cover effort), David Bowie (in a semi-official release), Billy Joel (on his 1987 Kontsert live album, which was recorded during a tour in the Soviet Union), and Van Morrison, to name a few of many well-known acts.

Neither the Nobel Prize in Literature winner Bob Dylan nor his team addressed the multimillion-dollar sale in UMPG’s release (or on social media, at the time of this piece’s writing), though UMG Chairman and CEO Lucian Grainge provided a more than 130-word-long statement on the subject.

“It is with enormous pride that today we welcome Bob Dylan to the UMG family,” said the Universal Music Group head, whose 10th anniversary at the company’s helm will arrive on the first day of the new year. “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. 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.”

Primary Wave Music recently announced that it had acquired a majority stake in the publishing catalog of Fleetwood Mac frontwoman (and successful solo artist) Stevie Nicks. Additionally, just weeks removed from the sale of her much-publicized (pre-Republic/UMG) catalog, Taylor Swift made headlines for licensing the first of her re-recorded songs.

Other songwriters including L.A. Reid (who’s written for Justin Bieber, Jennifer Lopez, Mariah Carey, Avril Lavigne, Usher, and others), Wu-Tang Clan leader RZA, and Blink-182 cofounder Tom DeLonge have cashed in on their catalogs throughout 2020.

3 Responses

  1. Kyle

    Not that he needs to money, but he’s getting older so it’s time to take the money and run.

    • Kyle 2

      Its a fire sale….all these artists were hand to mouth…month to month???

      or is there something more afoot….only time or inside knowledge will tell…..

      We will wait and see…

  2. Hargot

    $300+ million for the catalog isn’t a fire sale, by any means.