David Bowie estate ‘sells his entire back catalogue in $250m publishing deal’

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  • David Bowie
    David Bowie
    English singer-songwriter
David Bowie performs at Wembley Stadium in April 1992 (REUTERS)
David Bowie performs at Wembley Stadium in April 1992 (REUTERS)

David Bowie’s estate has sold the publishing rights to his “entire body of work” including hundreds of songs such as Space Oddity, Changes and Let’s Dance to Warner Chappell Music.

Variety suggested the deal for the London-born icon’s back catalogue was worth “upwards of $250million (£185m)”.

Terms of the agreement covering the late musician’s 26 studio albums were not given, by WCM co-chairman and chief executive Guy Moot.

It spans six decades and includes his posthumously released work Toy and two albums with Tin Machine, the rock supergroup fronted by Bowie.

According to US media, the deal between WCM, the publishing arm of Warner Music Group, and the Bowie estate comes after the two parties announced a global partnership last year bring the late artist’s vast recorded catalogue from 1968 to 2016 under the company’s umbrella.

Bowie, one of the most influential and revered musicians of the 20th century, was born David Robert Jones at 40 Stansfield Road in Brixton on January 8, 1947.

He died in New York City with liver cancer in January 2016, two days after his 69th birthday.

Celebrations are currently ongoing for what would have been his 75th year.

Bob Dylan’s entire back catalogue was acquired by Universal Music Group in December 2020 for a reported $300m, and artists including Mick Fleetwood, Neil Young and Blondie singer Debbie Harry have all since followed suit by selling interests in their music.

 (Anthony Devlin/PA)
(Anthony Devlin/PA)

WCM executive Mr Moot said: “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 ground-breaking, influential, and enduring catalogues in music history.

“These are not only extraordinary songs, but milestones that have changed the course of modern music forever.

“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.

“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.”

Entertainment lawyer Allen Grubman, representing the Bowie estate, added: “We are truly gratified that David Bowie’s body of music will now be in the capable hands of Warner Chappell Music Publishing.

“We are sure they will cherish it and take care of it with the greatest level of dignity.”

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