Bruce Springsteen has sold his music rights to Sony Music Entertainment in what may well be the biggest deal ever for a single artist’s entire body of work.
News of the deal, which covers the entirety of Springsteen’s work as an artist and songwriter, emerged late Wednesday, with no comment from Sony or Springsteen. But on Thursday, Sony – which owns the Columbia label, Springsteen’s recording home for five decades – confirmed the sale.
“I’m an artist who can truly say that when I signed with Columbia Records in 1972, I came to the right place,” Springsteen said in Sony’s statement. “For the past 50 years, the men and women of Sony Music have treated me with the utmost respect as an artist and as a person. I am delighted that my legacy will continue to be supported by the company and the people I know and trust.
Specific terms were not disclosed, but the transaction is valued at around $550 million, according to two people briefed on the deal, who spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to discuss the matter.
Sony clarified that the deal involved two separate agreements – one for Springsteen’s recorded work and another for his songwriting rights, known as music publishing. Part of the funding for the publishing acquisition was provided by Eldridge, a private investment firm whose other media deals have included the songwriting catalog of rock band The Killers.
Springsteen’s deal, which was signed days before Thanksgiving, will give Sony ownership of the star’s complete collection of classic songs like “Born to Run,” “Born in the USA” and “Blinded by the Light.” .
It’s the latest and greatest megadeal in what has been a frothy few years in which investors, major music companies and private equity firms – lured by the boom in streaming and the promise of music revenue growth for years to come – poured billions of dollars into buying song catalogs.
Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Stevie Nicks, Shakira, Neil Young and many other stars have sold some or all of their work for prices reaching into the hundreds of millions. Dylan’s deal, with Universal Music Publishing Group last year, was for his songwriting only and was estimated to be worth more than $300 million.
Other big deals are expected to close by the end of the year, including one for songwriting rights to David Bowie.
At a Sony investor relations meeting in May, Rob Stringer, the chief executive of Sony Music, said the company had spent $1.4 billion on acquisitions in the previous six months, a period that included the Simon deal as well as others for entire companies like AWAL, which provides services to independent artists.
Springsteen, 72, has been at Columbia Records, a unit of Sony Music, for his entire five-decade career, and has long controlled the rights to his recordings. He also owns the copyright to his writing and essentially acts as his own music publisher, although as of 2017 his writing is administered by Universal.