Sony Music has acquired the rights to Bob Dylan’s entire back catalog of recorded music along with the rights to “multiple future new releases,” the company has announced.
Both parties reached their agreement last July. The financial details of the deal have not been disclosed, but Billboard estimates Dylan’s master recordings to be worth $200 million or more, based on an estimated $16 million in global annual revenue and a presumed sale “for a multiple of about 15 to 20 times annual revenue.”
The agreement comprises Dylan’s entire body of recorded work, including 39 studio albums — from his 1962 self-titled debut through 2020’s Rough and Rowdy Ways — as well as his 16-volume “Bootleg Series” and various singles. The sale of Dylan’s masters follows the sale of his publishing rights to Universal Music Publishing Group in December 2020, a deal estimated to be worth $300 million or more.
“Columbia Records and [Sony Music Group chairman] Rob Stringer have been nothing but good to me for many, many years and a whole lot of records,” Dylan said in a statement. “I’m glad that all my recordings can stay where they belong.” Stringer added that “Columbia Records has had a special relationship with Bob Dylan from the beginning of his career” and praised the singer-songwriter as “one of music’s greatest icons and an artist of unrivaled genius.”
In recent years, record labels and publishing companies have been keen to snap up legacy artists’ publishing rights and master recordings for eye-popping sums. Last month, Bruce Springsteen sold his masters and publishing catalog for a combined $500 million. Other recent catalog sales include Motley Crue ($150 million), Neil Young ($150 million for half his catalog) and ZZ Top ($50 million).
Rockers Who Have Sold Their Publishing Rights
As song placement has become commonplace and sales have decreased due to streaming, many classic rockers have offloaded their publishing rights.