Dylan’s catalog consists of more than 600 songs written over a span of 60 years
Bob Dylan’s memoir “Chronicles: Volume One” starts with him signing his first ever music publishing deal in 1962. He was a budding songwriter at that time and found Lou Levy of Leeds Music Publishing’s brokerage acceptable. Dylan said that Lou had given him an advance of hundred dollars against future royalties for him to sign the contract, and he was fine with that offer.
Fast forward fifty-eight years, more than 600 songs and a Novel Prize win, and we see Dylan, now 79, in a position in the music industry where only the mighty stay.
On Monday, Universal Music Publishing Group announced that they have signed a landmark deal to purchase the singer’s entire songwriting catalog, which consists of iconic songs like “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “The Times They Are A-Changin'” and “Like a Rolling Stone.” This might just be the biggest acquisition of rights from a single songwriter by a music publishing company.
Dylan’s entire career is covered in that deal, from his early days to his latest album “Rough and Rowdy Ways.” The deal was made with him directly as he was the one holding control over the vast majority of his copyrights. The amount is still not clear, but it is estimated to be more than $300 million.
Artists have always sold their songs, and publishers and investors have raised billions from both public and private sources to coax them into parting with their creations. Stevie Nicks sold a majority of her songwriting catalog to Primary Wave Music for $80 million last week.
Dylan’s catalog is different however, since these are the songs that added new meaning to the folk, rock and pop genres.