September 22, 2023
Music Industry

Sting finally pulls the trigger, sells catalogue to Universal for more than US$ 300 million

Another day, another big catalogue music deal.

After several months of rumours that a deal was imminent, it was announced this morning (February 10) that Sting has sold his entire catalogue to Universal Music Publishing for more than US$300 million. That’s the number making the rounds, anyway.

I quote from the press release: “[This is an] “historic, comprehensive worldwide agreement for the catalog of one of the most commercially successful and critically-acclaimed songwriters of the last half-century.”

Universal has been the home to Sting and the Police from the beginning, extending through stints on A&M, Interscope, and CherryTree Records.

If that US$300 million number is true, this would be the third-highest amount paid for a songwriter’s work, behind Bruce Springsteen (US$550 million) and Bob Dylan (~US$350-400 million.)

Who’s next?

(Via MBW)

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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2 thoughts on “Sting finally pulls the trigger, sells catalogue to Universal for more than US$ 300 million

  • Alan, for the laypeople, can you break down (if you can) how this works? I listen to a song. Somehow the company that is buying the catalog gets paid. How does the part in the middle work?

    • It’s actually more complicated than that. When someone purchases the publishing/copyright to a song, that means they derive all future income from that song. That includes mechanical royalties (record sales) and radio airplay/public performance. Record sales royalties are paid by the labels that distribute the music. Public performance royalties are determined by PROs (performing rights organizations) who track such things and collect fees from any entity that uses this music in public performance. That can be everything from radio and TV to a nightclub to a hair salon that plays music in the shop. (That end of it is a story in itself.) Streaming is another source of income, paid by the streaming company. Finally, the purchasers are free to license the song for things like TV commercials, movie soundtracks, and other uses. They get money from that.

      There are other ways to get a song to generate money, but those are the big ones.


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