The late David Bowie is a musical artist whose influence can hardly be fathomed in the worlds of pop and rock, but his body of work as a whole does apparently have a price tag.
Warner Chappell Music has recently acquired the entire catalog of David Bowie in the latest in a string of similar mega music rights deals (H/T, Deadline).
Though the financial terms of the deal were not publicly disclosed, press reports put the value somewhere in the $250 million range for the entirety of his 26 studio album releases that came out during his lifetime, as well as the posthumous album Toy, which came out in November 2021. This follows from similar catalog deals made with the artists Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, and the estate of James Brown, among others.
A year ago, Warner Music Group, the parent company that owns Warner Chappell, had acquired from Bowie’s estate his music catalog from 1968. This more recent deal now covers the artist’s entire body of work, including some of his many hit songs, like “Space Oddity,” “Ziggy Stardust,” “Starman,” “Changes,” and many others. The deal includes not only all his albums as a solo artist but two studio albums Bowie made with the band Tin Machine. It also includes tracks released as singles from soundtracks and other projects.
Bowie died of liver cancer back in 2016, just two days after his final album, Blackstar, was released.
During his lifetime, Bowie licensed his catalog to EMI Music in 1997 in a 15-year deal, but at the same time created “Bowie bonds,” securities based on his future royalties. This eventually lead him to be able to buy back a share of his catalog from a former manager through the $55 million raised.
In a statement, Warner Chappell said they were “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.”