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David Bowie estate sells songwriting catalog for reported $250 million

David Bowie in a white button-down shirt and black vest
David Bowie, circa 1987.
(Greg Gorman/©The David Bowie Archive)

David Bowie’s estate is starting off 2022 with a nice chunk of change.

The estate of the late singer has sold his global music publishing rights to Warner Chappell Music for over $250 million, as first reported by Variety. The nine-figure sale covers songs such as “Starman,” “Heroes” and “Ziggy Stardust,” along with music from his 26 studio albums released between 1968 and his death in 2016.

The deal also includes the rights to “Toy,” Bowie’s posthumous album to be released this Friday — one day before what would have been his 75th birthday.

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“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,” WCM co-chair and chief executive Guy Moot said in a statement. “These are not only extraordinary songs, but milestones that have changed the course of modern music forever.”

The sale further entrenches Bowie’s music into the Warner Music Group ecosystem. Last September, WMG bought the rights to Bowie’s recorded music from 2000 to 2016, after the company already owned his recordings from 1968 to 1999.

Bruce Springsteen’s massive deal to sell his catalog to Sony Music Entertainment is the largest yet during a recent gold rush for music rights.

Widely considered one of music’s most influential figures, David Bowie is one of the world’s best-selling artists with more than 100 million records sold in his lifetime. A multi-instrumentalist who produced much of his own music, he proved his ability to reinvent himself through his alien alter-ego Ziggy Stardust, his dance-pop-inspired “Let’s Dance” and various other iterations.

On Jan. 10, 2016, Bowie died of liver cancer at his home in New York.

Bowie’s sale continues the trend of rock ‘n’ roll’s elders selling off their catalogs in blockbuster deals. In December, Bruce Springsteen sold the rights to his recording and publishing catalogs to Sony Music Entertainment for a record-breaking $500 million.

In 2020, Bob Dylan sold his songwriting catalog to Universal Music Publishing Group for at least $300 million. Other artists who have recently sold their publishing rights include Stevie Nicks, James Brown and Paul Simon.


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