David Bowie: the singer’s estate sells the rights to all of his work

The David Bowie Estate has sold the publication rights to his “Entire Body of Work” to Warner Chappell Music, including hundreds of songs such as “Space Oddity”, “Changes” and “Let’s Dance”.

Musician David Bowie, who died of cancer in 2016.
Photo: AFP

WCM now owns the worldwide music publishing rights to its song catalog, the singer’s estate told the BBC.

Variety wrote that the deal was worth “over $ 250 million [$NZ368m]”but the terms of the deal were not given.

WCM director Guy Moot said they were “proud” to be “chosen as goalkeepers”.

Bowie died of cancer in 2016 and was hailed as an extraordinary artist and genius in the massive global wave of tributes from Sir Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Brian Eno and Madonna, among others.

WCM deal includes all 26 studio albums released during Bowie’s lifetime and posthumous studio album release Toy as well as the two studio albums by Tin Machine – the rock supergroup led by Bowie. Songs released as single from soundtracks and other projects are also included.

Flowers and candles are left in front of a mural depicting the cover of Aladdin Sane, to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the death of iconic British musician David Bowie, in Brixton, south London, on January 10, 2021.

Flowers are left on a mural depicting the cover of Aladdin Sane, to commemorate the fifth anniversary of David Bowie’s death, in Brixton, south London on January 10, 2021.
Photo: AFP

Bowie has released a total of 111 singles, an average of two per year during his career, and 51 music videos.

The deal follows big names like Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and Paul Simon who recently sold the rights to their music catalogs.

Moot, who is WCM’s co-chairman and managing director, said Bowie’s was “one of the most groundbreaking, influential and enduring catalogs in musical history,” adding that it had “inspired millions of fans and countless innovators, not just in music, but across all the arts, fashion and media ”.

“These are not just amazing songs, but milestones that changed the course of modern music forever,” he said.

He described Bowie’s “vision and creative genius” in pushing him “to push the limits, lyrically and musically – by writing songs that defied convention, changed conversation and were now part of the canon of global culture.” .

The executive added that they were eager to “take care of her body of unprecedented songs with passion and care.”

WCM said the deal followed last year’s announcement of an agreement between Bowie’s estate and Warner Music Group, to oversee its entire album catalog between 1968 and 1999.

Warner Music licensed worldwide rights to Bowie’s catalog of recorded music beginning in 1968. With this new agreement with Warner Chappell, WMG is now home to all of Bowie’s work as a songwriter and artist. registration, ”added WCM.

Warner Chappell Music is the global music publishing company of Warner Music Group. WCM Co-President and COO Carianne Marshall said she was “satisfied” that the estate felt it had “the knowledge, experience and resources to take the reins and continue. to promote a collection of this magnitude “.

She called Bowie’s music a “living and breathing collection of timeless songs that are as powerful and resonant today as they were when they were first written.”

Allen Grubman said on behalf of the Bowie Estate: “We are truly delighted that David Bowie’s musical body is now in the capable hands of Warner Chappell Music Publishing. We are sure that they will cherish it and take care of it with the highest level of dignity. “

Bowie’s innovation wasn’t just in the recording studio and on camera – he was involved in the world of finance as well. In the mid-90s, Bowie, his CFO Bill Zysblat, and banker David Pullman devised a new plan to generate money from the singer’s extensive catalog.

David Bowie

David Bowie
Photo: Provided

In 1997, Bowie sold asset-backed securities, dubbed “Bowie Bonds,” which gave investors a share of its future royalties for 10 years. The securities, which were bought by US insurance giant Prudential Financial for $ 55 million, committed it to repay new creditors on future income, and gave a fixed annual return of 7.9%.

He struck a deal with the EMI label that allowed him to package and sell royalty bonds for 25 albums released between 1969 and 1990 – which included classics such as The man who sold the world, Ziggy Stardust, and Hero, according to Financial Time.

But in 2004, rating agency Moody’s Investors Services downgraded Bowie bonds to a single level above “junk”, the lowest rating, after a downturn in the music industry.

Bowie had previously predicted the decline in traditional music sales, telling the New York Times in 2002 that music would become “like running water or electricity”.


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