Bob Dylan’s entire back catalogue acquired by publishing group
Universal Music Group has acquired Bob Dylan’s entire back catalogue in a deal reported to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
The agreement, thought to be one of the largest in recent years, covers the copyrights to some 600 of the 79-year-old US musician’s tracks spanning his six-decade career.
It encompasses songs from 1962’s anthemic Blowin’ In The Wind and 1964’s The Times They Are A-Changin, to this year’s acclaimed Murder Most Foul.
It is understood that Dylan’s catalogue was acquired from the artist himself, with the New York Times reporting it was worth more than 300 million dollars (£225m).
In recent years the catalogue has been administered by Universal rival Sony/ATV outside the US and by Dylan’s own operations inside it.
The news follows recent high-profile signings to Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG) including Taylor Swift, Bruce Springsteen, Billie Eilish, Kendrick Lamar and Post Malone.
Emerging from New York City’s Greenwich Village folk scene in the early 1960s, Dylan became a counter-cultural figure with the release of a series of political anthems.
Dylan, born Robert Zimmerman in Duluth, Minnesota, was the first songwriter to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2016, with the Swedish academy crediting him with “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”.
His songs have been recorded more than 6,000 times with artists as varied as The Byrds, Jimi Hendrix and Adele finding both commercial and critical success with covers.
Dylan has to date sold more than 125 million records globally and won a best original song Oscar in 2001 for Things Have Changed, which he penned for the film Wonder Boys.
UMPG, which is headquartered in Los Angeles, is among the world’s largest publishing companies and represents songwriters and their back catalogue including Sir Elton John and Bernie Taupin, Adele, Abba, Coldplay and The Clash.
Jody Gerson, chairman and chief executive of Universal Music Group’s publishing division, said: “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.
“The UMPG global team is honoured to be Bob Dylan’s publishing partner and I especially want to acknowledge Marc Cimino, whose passion and perseverance were instrumental in bringing this opportunity to us.
“We look forward to working with Bob and the team in ensuring his artistry continues to reach and inspire generations of fans, recording artists and songwriters around the world.”
Sir Lucian Grainge, chairman and chief executive of Universal Music Group, said: “As someone who began his career in music publishing, it is with enormous pride that today we welcome Bob Dylan to the UMG family.
“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.
“Brilliant and moving, inspiring and beautiful, insightful and provocative, his songs are timeless — whether they were written more than half a century ago or yesterday.
“It is no exaggeration to say that his vast body of work has captured the love and admiration of billions of people all around the world.
“I have no doubt that decades, even centuries from now, the words and music of Bob Dylan will continue to be sung and played — and cherished — everywhere.”