The first big music industry acquisition of 2022 is with us: Warner Music Group, via its Warner Chappell Music subsidiary, has acquired the global music publishing rights to David Bowie’s song catalog.
The price of the deal, long mooted to be bouncing around the $200 million mark, was eventually agreed at upwards of $250 million, according to Variety.
This means Warner has announced two deals spanning over $650 million in acquisition fees in the past three weeks, following the $400 million acquisition of the Kevin Liles-led 300 Entertainment in December.
As per its latest deal, Warner has acquired rights in hundreds of Bowie’s songs, included evergreen hits such as“Space Oddity,” “Changes,” “Life on Mars?,” “Ziggy Stardust,” “Starman,” “Rebel Rebel,” “Fame,” “Young Americans,” “Golden Years,” “Heroes,” “Ashes to Ashes,” “Modern Love,” “Let’s Dance,” “Where Are We Now?,” “Lazarus,” and many more.
UPDATE: Warner Music Group has acquired all song rights owned by the Bowie estate. In the case of “Space Oddity”, MBW understands, another rightsholder, UK-based Bucks Music Group, retains a piece of the publisher’s share, while WMG now owns the writer’s share.
The agreement comprises songs from the 26 David Bowie studio albums released during his lifetime, as well as the posthumous studio album release, Toy.
It also includes the two studio albums from Tin Machine, along with tracks released as singles from soundtracks and other projects.
Warner Chappell Music Co-Chair and CEO Guy Moot said: “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.”
“I’d like to thank everyone involved with making this wonderful deal happen,” Moot continued, “including Bill Zysblat, Tom Cyrana, and the entire Bowie team at RZO, attorney Allen Grubman and firm, as well as our very own ‘Team Bowie’ made up of Warner Chappell colleagues Alice Aleksandrovich, Steve Butler, Michael LoBiondo, and David Woirhaye.”
This agreement with WCM follows the announcement last year of a global, career-spanning agreement between Warner Music Group (WMG) and the Bowie estate through which Warner Music has licensed worldwide rights to Bowie’s recorded music catalog from 1968. That deal will fully kick in next year in 2023.
WCM Co-Chair and COO Carianne Marshall noted: “This fantastic pact with the David Bowie estate opens up a universe of opportunities to take his extraordinary music into dynamic new places. This isn’t merely a catalog, but a living, breathing collection of timeless songs that are as powerful and resonant today as they were when they were first written.
“We were pleased that the estate felt that Warner Chappell has the knowledge, experience, and resources to take the reins and continue to promote a collection of this stature. All of our global leaders and departments are incredibly excited and primed to get to work with these brilliant songs across multiple avenues and platforms. And with both sides of WMG now representing Bowie’s career, we couldn’t be better set up to represent this illustrious body of work.”
On behalf of the David Bowie Estate and RZO, 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.”Music Business Worldwide