On Monday (January 3), a big David Bowie news bomb dropped after significant negotiations.
In one of the largest music publishing deals, the legendary singer’s estate announced that the entire David Bowie catalog, which includes hundreds of songs, including massive hits like “Fame” and “Under Pressure,” is set to be sold to Warner Chappell.
According to a statement from Warner Chappell Music Co-Chair and CEO Guy Moot, “All of us at Warner Chappell are immensely proud that the David Bowie estate has chosen us to be the caretakers of one of the most groundbreaking, influential, and enduring catalogs in music history.
“These are not only extraordinary songs but milestones that have changed the course of modern music forever. Bowie’s vision and creative genius drove him to push the envelope, lyrically and musically—writing songs that challenged convention, changed the conversation, and have become part of the canon of global culture.
“His work spanned massive pop hits and experimental adventures that have inspired millions of fans and countless innovators, not only in music, but across all the arts, fashion, and media. We are looking forward to tending his unparalleled body of songs with passion and care as we strive to build on the legacy of this most extraordinary human being.”
Speaking for the Bowie Estate, entertainment lawyer Allen Grubman added, “We are truly gratified that David Bowie’s body of music will now be in the capable hands of Warner Chappell Music Publishing. We are sure they will cherish it and take care of it with the greatest level of dignity.”
The singer’s estate had previously partnered with Warner Music in 2013. Previously, WMG held the rights to Bowie’s music released between 1968 and 1999, following the 2013 acquisition of the Parlophone Label Group.
What would be Bowie’s 75th birthday is set to occur over the weekend on January 8. He’s also expected to release a posthumous album on Friday, January 7. Bowie died of cancer in 2016.
There is also a new Bowie documentary expected this year, Variety reports.
The deal is thought to be worth around $250 million, according to NBC News. It’s also the latest in a string of big catalog sales from the likes of Tina Turner, Bob Dylan, ZZ Top, Bruce Springsteen, and others.
In 2023, Bowie’s albums Heathen, Reality, The Next Day, and Blackstar, originally released via Sony Music, will fall under the Warner Music umbrella. If a deal is met now, WMG would own the rights to the artist’s entire collection, including music released from 2000 through Blackstar, Bowies’ final album before his death in 2016. A 1967 self-titled album and several singles are the only works by Bowie that won’t be managed by Warner Music Group moving forward.
Multimillion-dollar music acquisitions have been expanding exponentially since 2020. Major labels like Universal Music Group acquired the catalog of Aerosmith ahead of the band’s 50th anniversary.
In July, WMG acquired the 12Tone music catalog, which features performers like Dolly Parton and Anderson .Paak. Warner also recently finalized a deal with Madonna that covers the entirety of her nearly 40-year catalog of music.
Photo: Jimmy King /The David Bowie Archive / Courtesy Nasty Little Man PR