By JON HAWORTH, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — Bob Dylan — one of the most influential musicians in the modern era — has sold his entire catalog of songs to Universal Media Publishing Group (UMPG) in what is being lauded as one of the most important music publishing deals ever completed, according to Universal Media Group (UMG).
The agreement which encompasses more than 600 copyrights spanning 60 years is possibly the biggest ever acquisition ever of a single act’s publishing rights in history and comes on the heels of Stevie Nicks selling the publishing rights to her music catalog for an estimated $100 million just days earlier.
“It is with enormous pride that today we welcome Bob Dylan to the UMG family,” said Sir Lucian Grainge, chairman and CEO of Universal Music Group, in a statement. “It’s no secret that the art of songwriting is the fundamental key to all great music, nor is it a secret that Bob is one of the very greatest practitioners of that art. 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. It is no exaggeration to say that his vast body of work has captured the love and admiration of billions of people all around the world. I have no doubt that decades, even centuries from now, the words and music of Bob Dylan will continue to be sung and played—and cherished—everywhere.”
Dylan, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2016 — the first songwriter to receive such a distinction — has sold more than 125 million records worldwide, won 11 Grammy Awards, and has achieved six entries in the Grammy Hall of Fame.
Said Universal Media Publishing Group Chairman & CEO Jody Gerson: “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. The UMPG global team is honored to be Bob Dylan’s publishing partner… We look forward to working with Bob and the team in ensuring his artistry continues to reach and inspire generations of fans, recording artists and songwriters around the world.”
Dylan was born in Duluth, Minnesota, in 1941 and taught himself to play the piano and guitar before eventually moving to New York City in 1961 where he began playing at various clubs around the city, particularly in Greenwich Village as the folk music scene became more and more popular. He was signed to Columbia Records by renowned A&R executive John Hammond in 1961 and released his self-titled debut album in 1962.
The deal means that UMPG will get the rights to his more than 600 song copyrights including; “Blowin’ In The Wind,” “The Times They Are a-Changin’,” “Like A Rolling Stone,” “Lay Lady Lay,” “Forever Young,” “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door,” “Tangled Up In Blue,” “Gotta Serve Somebody,” “Make You Feel My Love,” and the Academy Award-winning “Things Have Changed.”
Dylan’s long and distinguished music career has been recognized and honored with an incredible array of awards.
“He received an honorary doctorate of music from Princeton University, New Jersey, in 1970 and another from the University of St. Andrews, Scotland, in 2004,” said UMPG in their statement announcing the acquisition of Dylan’s catalog. “President Clinton presented him with a Kennedy Center Honor at the White House in 1997, recognizing the excellence of his contribution to American culture. Dylan’s song ‘Things Have Changed’ from the film Wonder Boys (2000) garnered an Academy Award in 2001. In 2007 Dylan received Spain’s Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts and in 2008 a Special Citation Pulitzer Prize ‘for his profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power.’ He was the recipient of France’s Officier de la Legion d’honneur in 2013, and was bestowed with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama in 2012.”
Dylan is considered to be one of popular culture’s most influential and groundbreaking artists and his songs have been recorded more than 6,000 times by an array of artists across countries, cultures and music genres.
His most recent album was 2020’s Rough and Rowdy Ways and debuted in the Top Ten in 13 countries, including the top spot in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Norway, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Germany and Switzerland; the second spot in the U.S., Australia and Belgium; third in Sweden and number four in France and Italy. Furthermore, the album’s number two entry in the U.S. was Dylan’s highest chart debut in this country since 2009 and marked the artist’s 18th studio album to debut in the U.S. Top 10, according to UMPG.
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