F. Antolín Hernández

Bob Dylan sells his complete songwriting catalog for $300 million+

David Crosby is following suit, but for a different reason...

Bob Dylan just sold his songwriting catalog (including both publisher and writer’s share) to UMG, for a price-tag, that sources of music business site MusicBusinessWorldwide (MBW) suggest lays somewhere between $300m and $400m.

Many, including Rolling Stone (the magazine looks at what that can mean here) and New Your Times, debate the reasons for such a sale. MBW quotes three possibilities:

  • Joe Biden’s tax plans will – if they get through the US legislature – significantly raise capital gains tax for composers whose songs attract a sale price-tag over $1m
  • Streaming continues to lift the fortunes of the record industry, leading to rosy projections about the future from the likes of Goldman Sachs… and, in turn, fueling a frenetic M&A music rights marketplace
  • Also, acquisition multiples have never been higher, as well-funded players like Hipgnosis Songs Fund, Concord, and Primary Wave do battle with the major incumbents, Universal Music Group, Sony Music Group, and Warner Music Group

But, as the site notes, there could be more deflating reasons to sell complete songwriting catalogs, as seems to be the case with David Crosby, another rock legend. Reacting to the news of Dylan’s sale, Crosby tweeted: “I am selling mine also… I can’t work… and streaming stole my record money. I have a family and a mortgage and I have to take care of them so it’s my only option… I’m sure the others feel the same.”

As MBW notes, Crosby’s suggestion that he “can’t work” is presumably a reference to the fact that the pandemic has wiped out any hope of live touring income for the singer/songwriter in 2020.

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