David Bowie’s Estate Sells His Entire Publishing Catalog
David Bowie's estate has sold the global publishing rights to the late rocker's robust catalog to Warner Chappell Music in a deal estimated to be worth more than $250 million.
The agreement comprises songs from all 26 of Bowie's studio albums, from his 1967 self-titled debut through his 2016 album Blackstar, released two days before his death. It also includes the posthumous studio album Toy, which comes out Friday, the two studio albums released by the Bowie-fronted hard rock band Tin Machine and various singles from soundtracks and other projects.
Warner Chappell, a subsidiary of Warner Music Group, did not disclose the particulars of the deal, but sources told Variety that Bowie's publishing rights fetched "upwards of $250 million." Last year, Warner Music secured the worldwide licensing rights to Bowie's recorded music catalog from 1968 through 2016, a deal that goes into effect in 2023. The company now owns Bowie's body of work as both a songwriter and recording artist.
Financial Times reported in October that Bowie's catalog ignited a bidding war, as several companies have purchased the publishing catalogs of legacy artists in recent years. Last month, ZZ Top sold their "entire music interests" to BMG and KKR for an estimated $50 million. Almost exactly a year ago, Hipgnosis Songs Fund snapped up half of Neil Young's back catalog for $150 million.
Other recent publishing sales include Motley Crue ($150 million), Stevie Nicks ($100 million), Bob Dylan (est. $300-400 million) and Bruce Springsteen, who sold his masters and publishing catalog for a staggering $500 million last month.
Bowie developed a reputation as one of rock's greatest shapeshifters over his roughly five-decade career. His catalog includes canonical hits such as "Space Oddity," "Changes," "Rebel Rebel," "Ziggy Stardust," "Fame," "Golden Years," "Let's Dance," "Modern Love" and many more. The publishing sale is another win for Warner Chappell, which has also acquired the catalogs for Bruno Mars, Cardi B, Quincy Jones and the estate of George Michael, among others.