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February, 10

Sting sells back catalogue to Universal Music in deal worth up to $300m

Sting has sold his back catalogue, featuring hits including Roxanne, Every Breath You Take and Englishman in New York, to Universal Music in a deal thought to be worth up to $300m (£221m).

The 70-year old, who first found global fame as a member of the Police in the late 1970s and early 1980s before going solo, becomes the latest big name musician to cash in on a long and successful career.

While the details of the deal were not disclosed, the volume and popularity of Sting’s work makes it one of the most valuable back catalogue transactions.

“It felt natural to unite everything in one trusted home,” said the musician, real name Gordon Sumner. “It is absolutely essential to me that my career’s body of work has 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.”

The deal unites Sting’s back catalogue, which had been with rival Sony Music Publishing, and his recorded music at Universal Music Publishing, part of the world’s biggest music group, where he has been signed at various labels for his entire career.

“We are honoured that by choosing Universal 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 Universal family,” said Sir Lucian Grainge, chairman and chief executive of the Amsterdam-listed music group. “It is a responsibility we don’t take lightly.”

The streaming-fuelled recovery in the music industry has resulted in a gold rush for artists with global and evergreen hits, as music companies, private equity and publicly listed firms such as Hipgnosis seek to strike deals to control song rights.

In December, Bruce Springsteen sold his entire song catalogue to Sony Music in a deal worth $500m, while David Bowie’s estate struck a $250m deal with Warner Music.

In 2020, Bob Dylan sold his entire catalogue of 600 songs, including Blowin’ in the Wind and Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door, to Universal for almost $400m, seting an industry benchmark for future deals. Last January, Neil Young sold 50% of his catalogue to London-listed Hipgnosis for approximately $150m.

Photo: provided by The Guardian
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