Universal Music is acquiring the complete catalog of Bob Dylan songs , a collection that spans six decades and includes many of the most iconic tunes in music history. Universal did not reveal the price of the deal, although Dylan’s songs are worth more than $ 200 million, according to people familiar with the terms.
The collection includes 600 works, from songs from the early 1960s such as Blowin ‘in the Wind and The Times They Are a-Changin , to an album released this year, Rough and Rowdy Ways. Dylan, 79, winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature, is profiting from the boom in music rights.
The value of songs and recordings has exploded in recent years thanks to streaming , which has fueled a five-year expansion for the music industry after a deep decline. It does not sell the recordings, which are a separate asset.
“It is no exaggeration to say that his vast body of work has captured the love and admiration of billions of people around the world,” Universal CEO Lucian Grainge said in a statement.
“I have no doubt that decades, even centuries, Bob Dylan’s lyrics and music will continue to be sung and played, and appreciated, everywhere.” Song rights, represented by music publishers, typically don’t generate as much money as recordings. But they can be a more reliable source of income.
Songs can be used to make money in a variety of ways, including radio play, advertising, and movie licensing, compared to the often fleeting sales explosion of a new record. Just last week, Stevie Nicks sold a majority stake in its composition that valued the catalog at around $ 100 million.
Dylan has never written pop songs, no Dylan tunes have topped Billboard’s key charts, but few songwriters can claim a deeper catalog. In 2004, Rolling Stone included 15 of his works on its list of the greatest songs of all time and placed Like a Rolling Stone at the top. Only the Beatles got more spots on the list.
Dylan appeared on the scene in the early 1960s as a folk poet and wrote songs against the Vietnam War. His transition to electric guitar and a more rock sound in the middle of that decade alienated some of his most ardent fans, but it also led to some of his best work, including Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde .
The deal strengthens Universal Music as it prepares for an initial public offering next year. With their recent deals for Taylor Swift and Dylan , Universal has added works by two of the most successful songwriters in music history.