Music Industry

Warner just bought David Bowie’s song catalogue for US$250 million

It’s inevitable that we’ll continue to see more artists (or their estates) sell their music catalogues for big money. The first big deal of 2022 involves David Bowie.

If you’ve been following these sorts of financial transactions, you’ll know of Bowie Bonds which were issued in 1997. Bonds totalling ly US$55 million were sold, backed by the revenue generated by Bowie’s songs from 25 albums recorded prior to 1990. Bowie then used a portion of that cash to buy older recordings of his music. Ten years later, those bonds matured and the rights to all the songs reverted to Bowie. It was a shrewd, risky, and ultimately successful financial ploy–at least for Bowie.

Today (January 3) we learned that Warmer Music Group has acquired the global music publishing rights to Bowie’s entire catalogue. The price? A rumoured US$250 million.

This includes hundreds of songs, ranging all the way back to the mid-60s. That means 26 studio albums as well as Toy, the “lost” album that was released late last year. Two Tin Machine albums are included as well.

If you want to get into the weeds of the deal, go here. And here’s my running list of deals to date.

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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3 thoughts on “Warner just bought David Bowie’s song catalogue for US$250 million

  • Comparing the value to other artists who have sold their catalogues, does this number seem a bit low for Bowie? Obviously still a huge sum of money and maybe I’m being clouded by my love for his music.

  • I agree that the number seems quite low although technically he already made $55M through the Bowie Bonds so you could argue that should be added to the $250M. Regardless, the big difference here when compared to others like Dylan and Springsteen is that Bowie has already passed away which means the clock is already counting down to his catalogue being in the public domain. The value of his catalogue actually decreases for each year since he passed. Hypothetically, let’s say Springsteen lives another 20 years. Since Bowie has been gone 6 years this means that Springsteen’s catalogue would be under control for 26 more years than Bowie’s which provides more time to recoup the greater sum paid for Springsteen.

  • Bowie didn’t sold his masters recording. That’s why.


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