David Bowie’s estate sells entire song catalog for $250 million: report

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  • David Bowie
    David Bowie
    English singer-songwriter


David Bowie’s estate has sold publishing rights to the “Changes” singer’s extensive and innovative song catalog for $250 million, according to Variety.

Negotiations with music publishing company Warner Chappell Music reportedly spanned several months and covers music recorded over the course of six decades before Bowie died in January 2016, just two days after his 69th birthday. Warner set forth a plan to acquire Bowie’s recorded music in 2013.

That deal announced Monday includes music from 28 albums including the posthumous recording “Toy,” a collection of remade old tunes which will be released later this week. Bowie would have turned 78 on Saturday.

Bowie’s estate controlled all of his music made after 1967, which doesn’t include his self-titled debut. However, a remake of “Silly Boy Blue” from that record is included on “Toy.” “Toy” had only previously been available as part of a boxed set that was released in November.

Bowie hits including “Space Oddity,” “Heroes,” “Let’s Dance” and “Ziggy Stardust” are included in the deal. So are songs from his late 1980s band Tin Machine, “All the Young Dudes,” which he wrote for Mott the Hoople in 1972 and his 1981 collaboration with Queen, “Under Pressure.” The saxophone-playing, gender-bending rocker’s catalog also includes soundtrack music from movies including “Cat People” and “Absolute Beginners.”

Warner Chappell Music Co-Chair and CEO Guy Moot told Variety he was “immensely proud” to have acquired the music of David Robert Jones, who took on the stage name Bowie at the start of his career.

“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,” Moot said. “These are not only extraordinary songs, but milestones that have changed the course of modern music forever.”

An innovator from the start, Bowie predicted in 1999 that the internet would change the way the world consumed information.

“(The Internet) absolutely establishes and shows us that we are absolutely living in total fragmentation,” he said in a BBC Newsnight interview. “I don’t think we’ve even seen the tip of the iceberg.”

When BBC interviewer wondered if the web was “just a tool” Bowie clarified that “the state of content” would change the way we see the world.

“I think the potential of what the internet is going to do society, both good and bad, is unimaginable,” he continued. “I think we’re actually on the cusp of something exhilarating and terrifying.”

Bowie joins artists including Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Nicks and Tina Turner in selling rights to their life’s work. Dylan is believed to have pulled in $300 million for his catalog while “The Boss” reportedly ran away with $500 million.

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