The rush to seize the lucrative timeless repertoires of music giants continues: US group Warner Music announced that it had bought the rights to the entire musical work of the late British rocker David Bowie, the latest act in a strong trend fueled by the streaming and the covid-19 pandemic.
According to the record company itself, Warner Chappell Music (WMC) acquired all rights to all of the “White Duke’s” musical work from Bowie’s heirs, although it did not disclose the financial terms of the deal.
However, the specialized publication Variety assures that it exceeded 250 million dollars.
“We are immensely proud to have been chosen as custodians of the David Bowie estate, a catalog of the most revolutionary, influential and enduring in the history of music,” said Guy Moot, head of the company in a statement.
Warner Chappell Musicha then built an exceptional catalog that includes 27 albums: it ranges from the first album “David Bowie” (1967) to the posthumous work “Toy”, released in November 2021.
The deal spans hundreds of songs spanning Bowie’s six-decade career, including already historic hits such as “Space Oddity,” “Changes,” “Life on Mars?” and “Heroes” and others of singular success like “Ashes to Ashes”, “Rebel Rebel” or “Let’s Dance”.
“These are not just amazing songs, but milestones that have forever changed the course of modern music forever,” Moot stressed.
With this agreement, it is assumed that Warner, one of the three great world “majors” together with Sony and Universal, will receive rights for each transmission or use in whole or in part of a Bowie track on an online streaming platform, in a movie. , television, radio or in a commercial.
The announcement was made within days of the 75th birthday of David Bowie, on January 8, and almost six years after his death, on January 10, 2016, after a long battle with cancer.
Bowie was the forerunner of glam-rock, creator of an artistic universe beyond the musical, with his characters such as Major Tom and Ziggy Stardust, which also earned him the nickname “Camaléon del Rock”, to become one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century.
Race for the “giants”
This agreement on the work of Bowie adds to a wave of other great transactions that marked the music industry in recent times and that refer to great rock celebrities.
Last December, ‘The Boss’ (The Boss) Bruce Springsteen, announced the sale to Sony of its catalog of songs for about 500 million dollars, and in October, the American Tina Turner, 81, sold her musical rights to the German group BMG.
Over the past year, it was 80-year-old Bob Dylan who sold his music catalog to Universal Music for an estimated $ 300 million. While Stevie Nicks, former singer of Fleetwood Mac, did the same with a majority of the catalog of the American band.
Others who sold the rights to his compositions were Paul Simon and Neil Young.
After a difficult phase during the 2000s, the music industry took off again with the streaming revolution, a major source of income for catalog owners. Previously the exclusive domain was of some important record companies, but the sector is now supported by investment funds such as Hipgnosis.
“Songs of extraordinary success and cultural impact produce reliable and long-term income streams and are therefore highly lucrative assets,” wrote one of its founders, Merck Mercuriadis, former manager of British singer Elton, in a recent report. John.
Hipgnosis claims to own 146 catalogs, including those for Red Hot Chili Peppers and some of Neil Young’s work acquired in 2021, or the equivalent of more than 65,000 songs, worth it estimates at more than $ 2.55 billion.
Also, Hipgnosis sees revenue prospects on newer platforms like TikTok or Roblox.
But this sell-off of renowned catalogs and the abandonment of copyrights to companies tempted by speculation is not unanimous. Taylor Swift, one of America’s most popular pop singers, has had resounding success with remakes of two of her old albums, after promising to re-record the first six albums in order to control her copyright.