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David Bowie’s estate sells his music publishing catalog for over $250M

David Bowie’s estate has inked a deal with Warner Chappell Music, the publishing arm of Warner Music Group, to sell the singer’s music publishing catalog, the company said Monday. The sale comes as part of a rush of similar deals with ZZ Top, Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan, all of whom sold their music catalogs to publishing groups in recent months. The Bowie catalog, which includes six decades of hits like “Space Oddity,” “Changes,” “Life on Mars?” and “Ziggy Stardust,” sold for upward of $250 million, according to reports. The deal comes amid the “Bowie 75” celebration, surrounding the late singer’s 75th birthday on Saturday, Jan. 8. It comprises songs from the 26 David Bowie studio albums released during Bowie’s lifetime, as well as the posthumous studio album release, “Toy.” It also includes the two studio albums from “Tin Machine,” along with tracks released as singles from soundtracks and other projects. “All of us at Warner Chappell are immensely proud that the David Bowie estate has chosen us to be the caretakers of one of the most groundbreaking, influential, and enduring catalogs in music history,” Warner Chappell Music co-chair and CEO Guy Moot said, “These are not only extraordinary songs, but milestones that have changed the course of modern music forever.” “We are truly gratified that David Bowie’s body of music will now be in the capable hands of Warner Chappell Music Publishing,” said attorney Allen Grubman, who represented Bowie’s estate. “We are sure they will cherish it and take care of it with the greatest level of dignity.” Last September, Warner licensed the worldwide rights to the “Let’s Dance” singer’s career spanning music from 1968 through 2016. Monday’s publishing deal is the latest in a flurry of acquisitions by record companies to own the music libraries of iconic singers. Last month, ZZ Top sold its music catalog to investment firm KKR and record company BMG for $50 million, just weeks before Bruce Springsteen sold his iconic song and publishing catalog to Sony Music for a whopping $500 million. Last year, Bob Dylan sold his massive 600-song catalog to Universal Music Publishing Group for a reported $300 million to $400 million in December 2020. Around the same time, Fleetwood Mac singer-songwriter Stevie Nicks sold 80 percent of her rights to her own songwriting catalog, including hits like “Landslide” and “Edge of Seventeen,” to music publisher Primary Wave for a reported $100 million. And according to reports late last year, Universal Music Group has been in advance talks with Sting to buy his music for $250 million. The deals are part of a long string of established artists selling their songbooks to big-pocketed investors or music labels. They’re also fueled by streaming, which offers the possibility of more lucrative royalties as customers flock to services like Spotify and Apple Music. Such deals have ramped up during the coronavirus pandemic due in part to low interest rates that make it easier for companies to borrow money to purchase large assets.




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