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Sting sells music catalog to Universal Music Group for $250 million

Sting is the latest rock star to cash in on his music catalog, cutting a deal to sell it for an estimated $250 million. The British-born singer has sold his publishing and recorded music catalogs — including hits with The Police such as “Roxanne,” “Every Breath You Take” and “Message In a Bottle” — to Universal Music Group, the world’s largest record label, which reps the likes of Taylor Swift, BTS, Kanye West and Billie Eilish, As part of the deal, UMG will snap up Sting’s entire portfolio, which in addition to his work with The Police encompasses 15 studio albums released between 1985’s debut “The Dream of Blue Turtles” and his most recent, “The Bridge,” released in November 2021. Financial terms were not given, but sources with knowledge pegged the sale in the ballpark of $250 million. The deal also compensates Police guitarist Andy Summers and drummer Stewart Copeland for songs where they share writing credits, according to a UMG spokesperson. The deal closes the loop on prior reports that UMG was in talks to scoop up Sting’s music, which includes hits like “Walking On the Moon,” “Spirits In the Material World” and “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic.” “It is absolutely essential to me that my career’s body of work have a home where it is valued and respected – not only to connect with longtime fans in new ways but also to introduce my songs to new audiences, musicians and generations,” Sting said. UMG Chairman and CEO Lucian Grainge added: “We are honored that by choosing UMPG for his music publishing, Sting’s entire body of work as a songwriter and recording artist — from the Police to his solo work — will all be within the UMG family.” It marks the continuation of a trend 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. And 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. While artists get a big pay day, musical labels get master rights of legendary musicians’ work. In recent months, David Bowie’s estate sold his music catalog for $250 million to Warner Chappell Music, the publishing arm of Warner Music Group, and late last year, 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. Meanwhile, 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.

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