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Bruce Springsteen Negotiates to Sell Album Catalog, Edition to Sony Music

By Jem Aswad

LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) — Bruce Springsteen is in talks to sell the rights to his recorded music to Sony Music along with his publishing catalog, three sources have confirmed to Variety. While the album catalog deal is nearing completion, sources say the publishing catalog remains in play. The news was first reported by Billboard.

While Springsteen has worked with Sony Music’s Columbia Records since first signing with the label in 1972, he acquired the rights to his music as part of a contract renegotiation at some point in his career; such moves are rarely reported but become evident in the fine print of a release.

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Selling the rights to their music is anathema to many artists, but when they reach or are past normal retirement age and begin to plan their estate, a sale is an attractive option – especially today, when catalogs of songs reach hitherto unimaginable valuations and that artists take realities into account. to leave to their heirs a valuable but cumbersome asset; song catalogs in particular require extensive management to maximize their value.

Bob Dylan is both the most notable and lucrative example of this: in the past two years he has donated his personal archives for the establishment of the Bob Dylan Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and last year , he sold his catalog of songs to Universal Music Publishing for a sum according to sources was nearly 400 million dollars.

That could also be the case with Springsteen, whose combined album and song catalogs are estimated at between $330 million and $415 million, according to Billboard.

Another strong incentive to sell is the expected increase in capital gains taxes, with Democrats holding both the White House and the House of Representatives until at least 2023.

Sources tell Variety the talks have been going on for several months; representatives for Springsteen, Sony Music and Sony Music Publishing declined or did not respond to requests for comment.

Springsteen, of course, is one of the most successful artists of the past 50 years, with 65.5 million albums sold in the United States alone, according to the RIAA, and a vast catalog of songs that generates hundreds, even thousands of times each year. . Billboard estimated that Springsteen’s album catalog generated about $15 million in revenue in 2020, and his publishing catalog brings in about $7.5 million annually.

Over the decades, Springsteen and his nearly 50-year-old manager, Jon Landau, have been nothing but savvy businessmen: in addition to lucrative deals for his publishing and recorded music, Springsteen is one of the bands highest-grossing touring companies in history, having grossed more than $840 million in touring dollars between 2010 and 2019 alone, according to Pollstar – a decade into a nearly 60-year career. Additionally, Springsteen’s team sells dozens of archival recordings live on his website, to which he owns the rights and completely bypasses record labels.

However, he apparently chose a more lucrative option for his official discography and song catalog. Variety will tell more about this situation as it unfolds.

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