Following UMPG Publishing Deal, Bob Dylan Sells Recorded Catalog to Sony Music

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Bob Dylan performing live. Photo Credit: Alberto Cabello

About 14 months after selling his publishing catalog to Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG) in a reportedly $300 million deal, Bob Dylan has revealed the sale of his “entire back catalog of recorded music” as part of a separate transaction with Sony Music Entertainment (SME).

80-year-old Bob Dylan’s latest song-rights agreement came to light via a formal release from Sony Music, which made headlines last month after fronting a reported $500 million for Bruce Springsteen’s catalog. Though the Big Three label only published said release today, the document indicates off the bat that the overarching transaction “concluded in July 2021.”

The precise reason(s) for the half-year delay between the deal’s wrapping and public announcement remain unclear, but the pact covers every Bob Dylan release from his self-titled 1962 debut album through 2020’s Rough and Rowdy Ways, his 39th studio album, according to SME.

Plus, the major label has obtained “the rights to multiple future new releases” from Bob Dylan under the partnership, and the involved parties will “continue to collaborate on a range of future catalog reissues in the artist’s renowned and top-selling Bootleg Series.”

Lastly, regarding the nuances of the sale – which reportedly set Sony Music back $200 million, for approximately half of a billion dollars spent on Bob Dylan’s music IP in total – “the agreement also provides the opportunity for SME to partner with Dylan on additional projects,” per the text. The release doesn’t identify these “additional projects.”

Notwithstanding the reportedly half-billion-dollar capital influx that he’s enjoyed from his deals with UMPG and SME, Bob Dylan announced additional tour dates today, with tickets to these spring stops scheduled to go on sale this Friday, January 28th.

The Duluth, Minnesota, native Dylan is now set to continue his Rough and Rowdy Ways concert series with an early-March show in Phoenix, followed by performances in New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, North Carolina, and other states. The 10-time Grammy winner (and 38-time nominee) has likewise disclosed that the tour will keep him busy through 2024.

Separately, Bob Dylan made headlines earlier this month for firing back against several sexual assault allegations levied against him, denying the claims and characterizing the corresponding complaint as “a brazen shakedown masquerading as a lawsuit.”

It also bears highlighting that the latter six or so weeks have delivered billions in music-IP sales.

Beginning with Primary Wave’s reportedly $90 million purchase of the James Brown catalog in mid-December, deals have come to fruition between ZZ Top and BMG (reportedly $50 million), Warner Chappell and the David Bowie estate (reportedly $250 million), Matt Redman and Primary Wave, John Legend and BMG/KKR, America and Primary Wave, Round Hill and Nancy Wilson, and Kenny Chesney and Hipgnosis Song Management.

Calculating solely for the aforementioned Springsteen and Dylan catalog sales as well as those with estimated values – thereby excluding some undoubtedly substantial totals – the transactions are worth somewhere in the ballpark of $1.1 billion.