David Bowie’s estate has sold the publishing rights to his to Warner Chappell Music. The company said Monday, the latest massive deal in a roaring song rights boom.
Warner Chappell didn’t reveal financial terms of the agreement. According to trade publications the price tag is estimated at upwards of $250 million.
Recent years have seen a series of music rights acquisitions by corporations. Including from superstars Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and Tina Turner.
The Bowie deal includes hundreds of songs spanning the glam rock pioneer’s six-decade career, including
“All of us at Warner Chappell are proud that the David Bowie has chosen us to be the caretakers of one of the most. Enduring catalogs in music history,” Guy Moot, head of said in a statement. “These are not only extraordinary songs, but milestones that have changed the course of modern music forever.”
Warner now houses Bowie’s work as a songwriter as well as a recording artist Music .
The owners of a song’s publishing rights receive a cut in a number of scenarios, including radio play and streaming, album sales, and use in and movies. Recording rights govern reproduction and distribution.
Warner Music Group has handled much of Bowie’s recorded catalog since 2013, last year adding his recordings from 2000 to 2016 to the fold.
The announcement comes days before Bowie’s birthday, on January 8, when he would have turned 75, and the sixth anniversary of his death in January 2016.
Music catalogs have always changed hands, but the current publishing sales has escalated rapidly, with financial markets increasingly drawn to lucrative music portfolios as an asset class.
Music catalogues now a hot commodity Music.
The past year has seen other major acquisitions including from Stevie The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Shakira.
The flurry of sales comes amid a wider conversation over artists’ ownership of their work, amplifie in large part by Taylor Swift. Who has found resounding success as she makes good on her vow to re-record her first six. Album so she can control their master recording rights.
“If I’m a successful artist right now, I’m looking to own I could possibly own so I could sell everything. Music Alan Cross told AFP, while also defending older artists’ rights to cash in on their own work.
Such sales are useful for estate planning and perhaps more lucrative in the long-term, Cross said. In the United States, making a lump-sum sale also means artists are taxed at the capital gains rate. which is much lower than the income tax they or their would pay on checks.
Jeff Jampol, whose company manages legacy artists and their estates. Including those of the Doors and Janis Joplin, said the right moment to cash in is of course a gamble, as most “gain value over time.”
But could such sales alter how fans engage with the music of these artists?
Maybe temporarily, Jampol said, but “long term? I don’t think so.”
“Music encompasses and encapsulates memories and feelings,” he said. “And those things don’t change.”
The company that’s publicized a large share of the recent explosion in sales is Hipgnosis Songs Fund, a British investment and management company.
In its interim report released in September 2021. Its rights vault has grown to 146 catalogues and 65,413 songs — a value the company places at $2.55 billion.
For Jampol, the concern that looms largest over the recent flurry of transaction. That hedge funds, pension funds, and private equity firms now own seminal art.
“What do they know about soul and poetry and art. What the going to commit, From an artistic point of view?” he said.
“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.”