Bob Dylan sells his entire recording catalog to Sony

Industry reports estimate deal worth more than $200 million; iconic artist recorded his debut album with Sony’s Columbia Records in 1961

Bob Dylan performs at the 44th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California, February 26, 2002. (HECTOR MATA / AFP / File)
Bob Dylan performs at the 44th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California, February 26, 2002. (HECTOR MATA / AFP / File)

NEW YORK — Bob Dylan has sold his entire back catalog of recorded music along with “the rights to multiple future new releases” to Sony Music Entertainment, the company announced Monday.

Sony did not disclose the financial terms of the deal. In late 2020, the iconic artist, had already sold his songwriting rights — separate from recording rights, which govern reproduction and distribution — to Universal, in a deal estimated to be worth more than $300 million.

According to industry reports including from Billboard and Variety, the latest Dylan deal was worth upwards of $200 million.

Sony said it closed the recording rights transaction in July 2021, a tightening of Dylan’s six-decade relationship with the company.

Dylan, 80, was signed to Sony’s Columbia Records in 1961, and recorded his debut album the same year.

Hailing Dylan’s “unrivaled genius,” Rob Stringer, Sony Music Group’s chairman, said “Columbia Records has had a special relationship with Bob Dylan from the beginning of his career and we are tremendously proud and excited to be continuing to grow and evolve our ongoing 60-year partnership.”

American singer Bob Dylan smiles as he performs during his show at the Colombes Olympic stadium in Colombes, France on June 24, 1981. (AP Photo/Herve Merliac, File)

Dylan also lauded the agreement in a statement: “Columbia Records and Rob Stringer have been nothing but good to me for many, many years and a whole lot of records. I’m glad that all my recordings can stay where they belong.”

Dylan’s deal with Sony is separate from his blockbuster publishing sale to Universal.

The holders of recording rights can dictate future reissues, while publishing rights owners receive a cut in a number of scenarios, including radio play and streaming, album sales, and use in advertising and movies.

Dylan’s publishing deal with Universal was one of the higher-profile sales that preceded a flurry of music catalog transactions over the past year or so, as financial markets are increasingly drawn to music portfolios as an asset class.

Companies have acquired a number of major catalogs including from David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Nicks, Paul Simon, Motley Crue, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Shakira.

Springsteen sold both his publishing and recorded music rights to Sony for a staggering $500 million.

Earlier this month, Bowie’s estate sold the late singer’s publishing rights to Warner Chappell Music.

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