Sony Music has acquired Bob Dylan’s entire catalog of recorded music, including all of his previous albums and “the rights to several future releases”, the company announced on Monday.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. According to a calculation by Billboard, the music trade publication, the rights to Dylan’s recordings could be worth around $200 million, based on an estimated $16 million in annual worldwide earnings.
When Dylan sold his songwriting rights — which are separate from the recording rights — to Universal Music in late 2020, that deal was estimated to be worth over $300 million.
In Dylan’s case, his body of songwriting is so valuable because of the thousands of covers of his songs that have been made over the years – from Peter, Paul & Mary in the 1960s to Adele, who recorded “Make You Feel My Love” by Dylan. on his debut album.
Dylan’s history with Columbia Records, which is owned by Sony, dates back over 60 years. He was signed to the label in 1961, by its famous talent scout John Hammond, and Columbia released Dylan’s self-titled debut album the following year, which included traditional folk songs and a handful of Dylan originals like ” Talkin’ New York” and “Song to Woody”, a tribute to his hero Woody Guthrie.
“Columbia Records and Rob Stringer have been nothing but good to me for many, many years and many records,” Dylan said in a statement. Stringer is the CEO of Sony Music and the former head of Columbia.
“I’m glad all my recordings can stay where they belong,” Dylan added.
Dylan, 80, sold the rights to his own master recordings, which he had long controlled, to Sony. According to Sony’s announcement, the deal closed in July, making it one of the music industry‘s few big-budget deals to avoid leaks for six months.
The deal is part of a wave of deals for artist catalogs, which have included Sony’s $550 million purchase of Bruce Springsteen’s recorded music and songwriting catalogs, as well as other major deals for the work of Paul Simon, Stevie Nicks, Tina Turner, Neil Young, Shakira and others.
Copyrights for recordings and songwriting – the lyrics and melodies underlying the recording of all songs – are separate, and both have been coveted by investors in recent years as the streaming has boosted the fortunes of the music industry.