Elvis Costello Inks ‘Exclusive’ Administration Deal With BMG as Catalog Sales Rush Continues

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Elvis Costello performing live at Glastonbury. Photo Credit: Marco Annunziata

London-born Elvis Costello has officially inked an “exclusive” administration deal with Berlin-headquartered BMG.

BMG, which earlier this month partnered with Pimco to buy song catalogs, unveiled its administration pact with Elvis Costello via a formal release that was emailed to DMN. The “exclusive music publishing deal” covers “all” the songs in 67-year-old Costello’s catalog, from his 1977 debut album, My Aim Is True, through his 11-day-old 32nd studio album, The Boy Named If.

The announcement message doesn’t disclose the agreement’s length or financial specifics, and it remains to be seen whether BMG will buy the one-time Grammy winner (and 14-time nominee) Costello’s catalog outright in the future.

But BMG, like a number of other music-industry companies, has been on something of a catalog-acquisition spree as of late, having scored deals with Tina Turner, Mötley Crüe, ZZ Top, and John Legend in recent months. The 14-year-old Bertelsmann subsidiary executed the latter song-rights purchase with KKR, as part of a partnership that the entities formed back in March of 2021.

And besides recording popular versions of “She” and “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again,” the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Elvis Costello – who’s scheduled several UK concerts for June – has the sole songwriter credit on well-known tracks such as “Alison” (1977) and “Watching the Detectives” (1977), having co-written 1989’s “Veronica” with Paul McCartney.

Addressing the administration contract with Costello in a statement, Alistair Norbury, BMG’s president of repertoire and marketing for the UK, said: “It is not often that a catalogue as distinguished as Elvis Costello’s becomes available. We look forward to working with Elvis and his management to further raise awareness and appreciation of one of the greatest songwriters the UK has produced.”

Regarding the ongoing surge of multimillion-dollar catalog sales, the past seven days have brought music-IP deals between Kenny Chesney and Hipgnosis Song Management, Bob Dylan and Sony Music (though the Big Three label said that the purchase had actually wrapped over the summer), and Reservoir and Travis Tritt.

Announced just yesterday, the transaction involving Tritt and Reservoir covers the two-time Grammy winner’s publishing and recorded catalogs. Meanwhile, Bob Dylan cashed out of his publishing catalog as part of a deal with Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG) in late 2020, but sold his recordings to Sony Music for a reported $200 million.

Amid this continued flood of song-rights sales, Massarsky Consulting, a boutique consultancy that appraised north of 300 catalogs (cumulatively valued at over $6.5 billion) in 2021, sold to Citrin Cooperman six days back.