Bob Dylan performing at Finsbury Park, London, June 18, 2011. Photo by Francisco Antunes on Wikimedia Commons.

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

The rights to Bob Dylan’s catalog are a’changin’ hands in a landmark deal worth an estimated $300 million. 

Universal Music Publishing bought the rights to Dylan’s 600-track catalog, which includes standards “Blowin’ In The Wind,” “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” and “Like A Rolling Stone.” The rights deal is perhaps the largest in music history from a single artist. Dylan sold more than 125 million records worldwide and won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2016, the only songwriter to win the award.

“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,” Lucian Grainge, the chief executive of the Universal Music Group, said in a statement announcing the deal.

Dylan had no comment on the deal. In his written remarks at the Nobel Prize banquet, he acknowledged the titans of literature and his voracious reading of them.

“Being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature is something I never could have imagined or seen coming,” Dylan wrote. “From an early age, I’ve been familiar with and reading and absorbing the works of those who were deemed worthy of such a distinction: Kipling, Shaw, Thomas Mann, Pearl Buck, Albert Camus, Hemingway. These giants of literature whose works are taught in the schoolroom, housed in libraries around the world and spoken of in reverent tones have always made a deep impression. That I now join the names on such a list is truly beyond words.” 

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

Universal Music Publishing Group Acquires Bob Dylan’s Entire Catalog Of Songs – Universal Music Group – 12/7/2020
Universal Music Group’s leading global music publishing division today announced the acquisition of Bob Dylan’s entire catalog of songs. This landmark agreement encompasses more than 600 copyrights spanning 60 years, from 1962’s cultural milestone “Blowin’ In The Wind” to this year’s epic “Murder Most Foul.”

Bob Dylan Sells Songwriting Catalog to Universal Music Publishing – Pitchfork – 12/7/2020
In addition to Dylan’s original work ranging from his earliest compositions through this year, the deal also includes “The Weight,” the 1968 hit by the Band. The Universal deal accounts for Dylan’s entire catalog but does not include any songs he may write in the future.

Bob Dylan’s rights sale all part of his freewheelin’ approach to business – The Guardian – 12/7/2020
It’s a move very much in keeping with Dylan’s sharp business sense. The fact that he’s ceded control of how the songs are used might cause palpitations for a certain kind of Dylan nut. 

What Bob Dylan Selling His Music Catalog Does and Doesn’t Mean – Rolling Stone – 12/7/2020
It’s likely one of the biggest deals of this kind ever made. But what does the sale mean, exactly, for Dylan’s songs? Here are the main takeaways from what’s been reported so far.

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

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