David Bowie property sells his songwriting catalog to Warner Chappell Music in newest such mega-deal

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New York — David Bowie’s property has offered the publishing rights to his “entire body of work” to Warner Chappell Music, the corporate stated Monday, the newest huge deal in a roaring music rights buying increase.

Warner Chappell did not reveal monetary phrases of the settlement, however in response to commerce publications the value tag is estimated at upwards of $250 million.

Recent years have seen a collection of blockbuster music rights acquisitions by firms — together with from superstars Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and Tina Turner — a pattern pushed by the anticipated stability of the expansion of streaming mixed with low rates of interest and reliable incomes projections for time-tested hits.

The Bowie deal consists of tons of of songs spanning the glam rock pioneer’s six-decade profession, together with “Space Oddity,” “Changes,” “Life on Mars?” and “Heroes.”

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A portrait taken in May 1983 reveals David Bowie throughout a press convention on the thirty sixth Cannes Film Festival.

Ralph Gatti/AFP/Getty Images


“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,” Guy Moot, head of WCM, stated in an announcement. “These are not only extraordinary songs, but milestones that have changed the course of modern music forever.”

Warner now homes Bowie’s work as a songwriter in addition to a recording artist.

The house owners of a music’s publishing rights obtain a lower in quite a lot of eventualities, together with radio play and streaming, album gross sales, and use in promoting and films. Recording rights govern copy and distribution.

Warner Music Group has dealt with a lot of Bowie’s recorded catalog since 2013, final yr including his recordings from 2000 to 2016 to the fold.

The announcement comes days earlier than Bowie’s birthday, on January 8, when he would have turned 75, and the sixth anniversary of his loss of life in January 2016.

Music catalogs have all the time modified arms, however the present publishing gross sales frenzy has escalated quickly, with monetary markets more and more drawn to profitable music portfolios as an asset class.

Music catalogues now a sizzling commodity

Bruce Springsteen’s publishing and recorded music rights just lately went to Sony for a staggering $500 million, with Bob Dylan additionally promoting his full publishing catalog to Universal for tons of of tens of millions of {dollars}.

The previous yr has seen different main acquisitions together with from Stevie Nicks, Paul Simon, Motley Crue, The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Shakira.

The flurry of gross sales comes amid a wider dialog over artists’ possession of their work, amplified largely by Taylor Swift, who has discovered resounding success as she makes good on her vow to re-record her first six albums so she will be able to management their grasp recording rights.

“If I’m a successful artist right now, I’m looking to own everything I could possibly own so I could sell everything off at some later date,” music analyst Alan Cross instructed AFP, whereas additionally defending older artists’ rights to money in on their very own work.

Such gross sales are helpful for property planning and maybe extra profitable within the long-term, Cross stated: In the United States, making a lump-sum sale additionally means artists are taxed on the capital positive factors charge, which is way decrease than the revenue tax they or their estates would pay on common royalty checks.

Jeff Jampol, whose firm manages legacy artists and their estates, together with these of the Doors and Janis Joplin, stated the precise second to money in is in fact a raffle, as most catalogs “gain value over time.”

“It is cyclical — but if you’re in your 70s or you’re making succession plans, do you want to wait for the next cycle?” he instructed AFP.

But might such gross sales alter how followers have interaction with the music of those artists?

Maybe quickly, Jampol stated, however “long term? I don’t think so.” 

“Music encompasses and encapsulates memories and feelings,” he stated. “And those things don’t change.”

The firm that is publicized a big share of the latest explosion in gross sales is Hipgnosis Songs Fund, a British funding and administration firm.

In its interim report launched in September 2021, Hipgnosis stated its rights vault has grown to 146 catalogues and 65,413 songs — a price the corporate locations at $2.55 billion.

For Jampol, the priority that looms largest over the latest flurry of transactions is that hedge funds, pension funds, and personal fairness companies now personal seminal artwork.

“What do they know about soul and poetry and art and what are they going to commit to from an artistic point of view?” he stated.

“It’s not just numbers on pages,” Jampol continued. “It’s music that created very special feelings & emotions — and those shouldn’t always be for rent to the highest bidder.”

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