David Bowie’s estate sells off singer’s back catalogue in deal worth ‘hundreds of millions’
David Bowie’s estate has parted with the publishing rights to the singer’s lifetime of music, in a deal reported to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
Warner Chappell Music (WCM) has snapped up the rights to songs across the 26 studio albums released during the British musical icon’s lifetime, as well as the posthumously released album Toy and his two albums with the band Tin Machine.
The deal spans six decades and includes timeless hits including “Heroes”, “Changes”, “Space Oddity”, “Fame”, “Let’s Dance” and “Rebel Rebel”.
According to Variety, the deal between WCM, the publishing arm of Warner Music Group, and the Bowie estate is worth more than $250 million (£185m).
It comes after the two parties announced a global partnership last year to bring the late artist’s vast recorded catalogue, which spans from 1968 to his death in 2016, under the company’s umbrella.
WCM co-chairman and chief executive Guy Moot said: “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 catalogues in music history.
“These are not only extraordinary songs, but milestones that have changed the course of modern music forever.
“Bowie’s vision and creative genius drove him to push the envelope, lyrically and musically – writing songs that challenged convention, changed the conversation, and have become part of the canon of global culture.
“His work spanned massive pop hits and experimental adventures that have inspired millions of fans and countless innovators, not only in music, but across all the arts, fashion, and media.
“We are looking forward to tending his unparalleled body of songs with passion and care as we strive to build on the legacy of this most extraordinary human being.”
Entertainment lawyer Allen Grubman, representing the Bowie estate, added: “We are truly gratified that David Bowie’s body of music will now be in the capable hands of Warner Chappell Music Publishing.
“We are sure they will cherish it and take care of it with the greatest level of dignity.”
It is only the latest in big-budget deals over music rights.
Bob Dylan’s entire back catalogue was acquired by Universal Music Group in December 2020 for a reported 300 million US dollars, and artists including Mick Fleetwood, Neil Young and Blondie singer Debbie Harry have all since followed suit by selling interests in their music.
However, battles over music rights can also prove contentious and legally complex. Taylor Swift is partway through re-recording her first six albums, after the rights to her original masters were sold off against her will by her former record label.
Bowie, one of the most influential and revered musicians of the 20th century, died with liver cancer on 10 January 2016, two days after his 69th birthday and the release of his album Blackstar – interpreted by many as a “farewell” record.
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