Bob Dylan has sold the publishing rights to all his songs to the music company Universal Music. The worldwide number one in the music industry did not name a price on Monday for the more than 600 titles such as “Blowin’ in the Wind” or “The Times They Are A-Changin'”. However, according to the New York Times, the amount is estimated at more than 300 million dollars. The head of Universal’s publishing business, Jody Gerson, said of the deal, representing the complete works of one of the greatest songwriters of all time was “both a privilege and a responsibility.
The move comes as a surprise to outsiders. Folk-rock pioneer Dylan is one of the few artists who control the publishing rights for their music themselves. The 79-year-old is also the only musician to have received a Nobel Prize for Literature for his lyrics. His current album “Rough and Rowdy Ways” was released in June 2020.
Money for cover versions
In fact, Dylan is said to have been in talks with Jody Gerson for years about a sale, the Financial Times reported.
Publishing rights are a generally little-known but extremely valuable commodity in the music industry – even with the success of streaming services. Among other things, their owners receive money if the titles are used in films or advertising. Or if other artists re-enact them. Dylan’s songs are said to have been recorded more than 6000 times so far, including many very successful versions such as Jimi Hendrix’ cover of “All Along The Watchover”. During the Corona era, they took on additional significance as a source of income, as artists lost sales from live performances.