Bob Dylan has struck a deal with Universal Music for the sale of his entire songwriting catalog.
According to the New York Times, the deal is valued at around $300 million, and gives Universal ownership to more than 600 songs spanning nearly six decades. The deal covers early Dylan classics like “Blowin’ in the Wind”, “The Times They Are A-Changing'”, and “Like a Rolling Stone” through his most recent album, this year’s Rough and Rowdy Ways.
Publishing deals have become a hot commodity of late, which Billboard attributes to a range of factors, including a lack of touring revenue due to the pandemic; the boom of streaming; the possibility of President-elect Joe Biden raising the capital gains tax; and elder musicians looking to shore up their estates. Over the last year, artists including Stevie Nicks, Blondie, Chrissie Hynde, and The Killers have all sold publishing stakes.
However, Dylan’s catalog in a uniquely valuable catalog. Beyond the enduring legacy of his music, Dylan is listed as the principal songwriter on the vast majority of his songs — which means Universal does not have to share revenues with any other songwriters and has full control over future licensing and earnings opportunities.
“It’s no secret that the art of songwriting is the fundamental key to all great music, nor is it a secret that Bob is one of the very greatest practitioners of that art,” Lucian Grainge, chief executive of the Universal Music Group, said in a statement announcing the deal.
Jody Gerson, chief executive of Universal’s publishing division, added, “To represent the body of work of one of the greatest songwriters of all time — whose cultural importance can’t be overstated — is both a privilege and a responsibility.”
Bob Dylan himself had no comment.