One of the most influential songs catalogues in the history of music has changed hands, with Bob Dylan selling his publishing rights to Universal Music Publishing Group. The New York Times estimates that the deal, which was negotiated with Dylan directly, could have cost UMPG in excess of $300 million (£225 million).
Though Dylan signed a publishing deal early in his career, in 1962, he later successfully regained ownership of the rights to the songs on his self-titled 1962 debut album. And while he is known to have struck further deals at various points in his career, crucially the Minnesota-born singer/songwriter kept control of the two key components of publishing: his lyrics and melodies. The new deal, which covers all Dylan’s songs from that acclaimed debut through to this year’s Rough And Rowdy Ways, over 600 in total, may be the biggest acquisition ever of a single act’s publishing rights.
“It’s no secret that the art of songwriting is the fundamental key to all great music, nor is it a secret that Bob is one of the very greatest practitioners of that art,” Universal Music Group CEO Lucian Grainge said in a statement.
UMPG’s CEO, Jody Gerson, added, “To represent the body of work of one of the greatest songwriters of all time — whose cultural importance can’t be overstated — is both a privilege and a responsibility.”