Bob Dylan Sells Entire Songwriting Catalog to Universal

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 12: Bob Dylan performs as part of a double bill with Neil Young at Hyde Park on July 12, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Dave J Hogan/Getty Images for ABA)

In a blockbuster deal, Bob Dylan has sold the publishing rights to his entire back catalog, which goes back to 1962, to Universal Music Group. The New York Times reports that the deal was for a whopping $300 million.

In the deal, UMG acquired over 600 of Dylan’s songs, which the legendary singer-songwriter controlled the copyrights to. It includes all of his songs through this year’s Rough and Rowdy WaysOf course, UMG gets all Dylan’s big early hits as well: “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “Tangled Up In Blue,” “Mr. Tambourine Man,” “Lay Lady Lay,” “The Times They Are a-Changin'” and like a Rolling Stone.”

“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,” Lucian Grainge, chief executive of the Universal Music Group, said in a statement announcing the deal.

“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,” Jody Gerson, the chief executive of Universal’s publishing division, added in a statement.

Unlike other artists’ catalogs, Dylan wrote the songs’ lyrics himself and melodies himself, which means the song rights weren’t split among other writers and makes the catalog so valuable. Universal will also collect royalties whenever another artist covers any Dylan song moving forward as well. The deal, however, wasn’t for any songs that Dylan writes in the future.

According to the Times, Dylan had no comment on the deal.

It’s been a busy 2020 for the icon: Dylan signed on to produce a film adaptation of the baseball novel Calico Joe, which will be directed by George Clooney. He also re-started his SiriusXM Theme Time Radio Hour, which had been dormant for 11 years.

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