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Bowie estate sells songwriting rights to Warner

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A portrait taken on May 11, 1983 shows British singer David Bowie during a press conference at the 36th Cannes Film Festival./AFP
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Jan 04, 2022 - 06:22 AM

NEW YORK — David Bowie’s estate has sold the publishing rights to his “entire body of work” to Warner Chappell Music, the company said Monday, the latest massive deal of the recent song rights purchasing boom.

Warner Chappell did not reveal financial terms of the agreement, but trade publication Variety said the price tag was upwards of $250 million.

The deal includes hundreds of songs spanning Bowie’s six-decade career, including “Space Oddity,” “Changes,” “Life on Mars?” and “Heroes.”

“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,” said Guy Moot, head of WCM, in a statement.

“These are not only extraordinary songs, but milestones that have changed the course of modern music forever.”

The new deal means Warner now houses Bowie’s work as a songwriter as well as a recording artist.

Warner Music Group has handled much of Bowie’s recorded catalog since 2013, last year adding his recordings from 2000 to 2016 to the fold.

The announcement comes days before Bowie’s birthday on January 8, when he would have turned 75, as well as the sixth anniversary of his death on January 10.

The English singer-songwriter, who is widely regarded as one of the 20th century’s most influential musicians, died in 2016 at age 69 after a lengthy but private battle with cancer.

The sale of his publishing rights is part of a frenzy of similar deals as financial markets increasingly are drawn to lucrative music portfolios as an asset class.

Bruce Springsteen’s publishing and recorded music rights recently went to Sony for a staggering $500 million, with Bob Dylan also selling his full publishing catalog to Universal for hundreds of millions of dollars.

Tina Turner, Stevie Nicks, Paul Simon and Neil Young are also among the list of artists who have cashed in on their life’s work, either in part or entirely.

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