Bob Dylan’s back catalogue of songs has been snapped by Universal Music in a deal thought to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
No financial details were revealed but Universal said the agreement covered more than 600 songs including all of Dylan’s hits such as Blowin’ In The Wind, The Times They Are a-Changin’, Like A Rolling Stone and Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door.
His songs have been covered more than 6000 times by artists as diverse as Duke Ellington, Jimi Hendrix, Guns N’ Roses, Stevie Wonder, Rod Stewart, Adele and U2.
One of the icons of the sixties, Dylan has sold more than 125mln records and was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 2016, the first time a songwriter has received the accolade.
Jody Gerson, Universal Music Publishing’s chief executive, said: “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.”
Back catalogues have become an increasingly valuable commodity as streaming services have proliferated and become the primary access to music for many people.
Hipgnosis Songs Fund Ltd (LON:SONG) has grown into a billion-pound business through a string of acquisitions of songs from best-selling artists.
Dylan remains extremely popular as a download artist even though he first emerged in the early sixties in Greenwich Village in New York.
Now aged 79, he continues to play over 100 concerts each year and released his latest album Rough and Rowdy Ways earlier in 2020 where it reached Number 1 in the UK and Germany and number 2 in the US.
Sir Lucian Grainge, chairman and CEO of Universal Music Group added: “Brilliant and moving, inspiring and beautiful, insightful and provocative, his songs are timeless–whether they were written more than half a century ago or yesterday.”
Universal Music Publishing’s stable already includes a roster of superstars from Elton John and Bernie Taupin, Abba, Paul Simon to Adele and the Beach Boys.
French group Vivendi owns Universal Music.