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David Bowie estate sells his publishing rights in multi-million dollar deal

David Bowie (Andy Butterton/PA)
David Bowie (Andy Butterton/PA)

Warner Chappell Music (WCM) has acquired the publishing rights to David Bowie’s back catalogue in a deal reported to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

The agreement covers songs from 26 studio albums released during the British artist’s lifetime, as well as the posthumously released album Toy and his two albums with the band Tin Machine.

It spans six decades and includes beloved songs such as Heroes, Changes, Space Oddity, Fame, Let’s Dance and Rebel Rebel.

Glastonbury Festival Bowie
David Bowie headlines Glastonbury (Toby Melville/PA)

According to US entertainment outlet Variety, the deal between WCM, the publishing arm of Warner Music Group, and the Bowie estate was worth more than 250 million US dollars.

It comes after the two parties announced a global partnership last year that will bring the late artist’s vast recorded catalogue from 1968 to 2016 under the company’s umbrella.

Bob Dylan’s entire back catalogue was acquired by Universal Music Group in December 2020 for a reported 300 million US dollars, and artists including Mick Fleetwood, Neil Young and Blondie singer Debbie Harry have all since followed suit by selling interests in their music.

WCM co-chairman and chief executive Guy Moot said: “All of us at Warner Chappell are immensely proud that the David Bowie estate has chosen us to be the caretakers of one of the most groundbreaking, influential, and enduring catalogues in music history.

“These are not only extraordinary songs, but milestones that have changed the course of modern music forever.

“Bowie’s vision and creative genius drove him to push the envelope, lyrically and musically – writing songs that challenged convention, changed the conversation, and have become part of the canon of global culture.

UMPG acquires Bob Dylan back catalogue
Bob Dylan (Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG)/PA)

“His work spanned massive pop hits and experimental adventures that have inspired millions of fans and countless innovators, not only in music, but across all the arts, fashion, and media.

“We are looking forward to tending his unparalleled body of songs with passion and care as we strive to build on the legacy of this most extraordinary human being.”

Entertainment lawyer Allen Grubman, representing the Bowie estate, added: “We are truly gratified that David Bowie’s body of music will now be in the capable hands of Warner Chappell Music Publishing.

“We are sure they will cherish it and take care of it with the greatest level of dignity.”

Bowie, one of the most influential and revered musicians of the 20th century, died with liver cancer on January 10 2016, two days after his 69th birthday.

Celebrations are currently ongoing for what would have been his 75th year.

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