The David Bowie estate has agreed to terms with Warner Chappell Music for the $250 million purchase of his publishing catalog, per a Variety report.
According to Variety sources close to the situation, the $250 million deal includes 60 years of material, bringing nearly his entire catalog under the Warner umbrella, such as hits like “Heroes”, “Changes”, “Fame”, “Let’s Dance”, “Golden Years”, “Space Oddity”, “Rebel Rebel”, “Ziggy Stardust”, his 1981 “Under Pressure” collaboration with Queen, and much, much more. It will include the 26 studio releases from Bowie from 1968–2016, as well as the forthcoming posthumous album, Toy, which will arrive this Friday, January 7th.
This news comes as his estate celebrates “Bowie 75” in recognition of what would have been David’s 75th birthday on Saturday, January 8th, and the sixth anniversary of his death on January 10th, 2016. In addition to the Brilliant Adventure box set release in November and this week’s arrival of Toy, the celebration will include pop-up stores in New York City and London.
“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 catalogs in music history. These are not only extraordinary songs, but milestones that have changed the course of modern music forever,” said Warner Chappell Music Co-Chair and CEO Guy Moot in a statement to Variety.
“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,” Moot continued. “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.”
David Bowie is just the latest musician to sell his catalog. In late 2020, Bob Dylan agreed to terms in a blockbuster deal with Universal Music Publishing Group, selling his rights for between $375 million and $400 million.
Then, in early 2021, Neil Young sold 50% of his worldwide copyright to Hipgnosis Songs Fund Limited, which also purchased the publishing rights of Lindsey Buckingham and producer/record executive Jimmy Iovine‘s worldwide producing royalties. Other artists to sell off songwriting catalogs over the past two years include David Crosby, Paul Simon, Stevie Nicks, Shakira, and Mick Fleetwood. Most recently in December 2021, Bruce Springsteen sold his songwriting catalog and publishing rights to Sony Music and Sony Music Publishing for $500 million, making it the largest acquisition yet.