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Universal Acquires Sting’s Music Catalog For Reported $300 Million

By Gary Symons

TLL Editor in Chief

The red-hot market for music catalogs is continuing in 2022 as Universal Music Group acquired the works of Police frontman Sting for a reported $300 million.

Sting was represented in the transaction by Allen Grubman with his partners Joe Brenner and Stuart Prager.

One of the largest music acquisitions to date, the Sting collection includes songs he wrote for The Police as well as his solo work from 15 studio albums. Sting has won an astounding 17 Grammy Awards in his storied career and has sold more than 100 million albums.

The deal with Sting is also part of a much wider trend in the music industry, which has seen investments in music catalogs soar 2500% since 2015. A combination of renewed demand for older songs on streaming services, combined with lucrative deals between music publishers and social media networks like TikTok, has greatly increased the revenues companies earn from music catalogs of major artists.

Just two months ago the legendary rocker Bruce Springsteen set the current record for a single catalog transaction at more than $500 million, while Bob Dylan sold his catalog in 2020 for almost $400 million. 

According to data compiled by The Licensing Letter, more than $5 billion was invested in the acquisition of music catalogs in 2021.

Every Little Thing He’s Done Is Magic, as Universal reportedly pays singer/songwriter Sting $300 million for his vast music catalog of hits.

The deal with UMG includes notable hits like Roxanne, Every Breath You Take, Shape Of My Heart, If I Ever Lose My Faith In You, Fields Of Gold, Desert Rose, Message in a Bottle, Englishman in New York and Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic, and many other global hits.

UMPG now becomes the worldwide home of Sting’s extensive songwriting legacy, uniting his song catalog with his recorded music catalog under Universal Music Group (UMG) with this agreement. UMG has been Sting’s label home for his entire career through A&M, Interscope and Cherrytree Records. Together, UMPG and UMG will work with Sting to further build and expand his vast audience reach, strengthen the impact and influence of his timeless works, and continue supporting future music releases.

“I am delighted to have Jody and the team at UMPG curate and manage my song catalog,” said Sting. “It is absolutely essential to me that my career’s body of work have a home where it is valued and respected, not only to connect with longtime fans in new ways but also to introduce my songs to new audiences, musicians and generations.

“Throughout my career, I have enjoyed a long and successful relationship with UMG as my label partner, under the watchful guidance of Lucian, so it felt natural to unite everything in one trusted home, as I return to the studio, ready for the next chapter.”

Sting was originally a school teacher under his birth name Gordon Sumner before he became the co-founder, singer and bassist of The Police, alongside Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers. Beginning with their chart topping hit Roxanne, Sting and The Police became one of the world’s best-selling bands. The Police released five studio albums between 1978–1983, earning six Grammy Awards and two Brit Awards. The band members were inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003.

“So many memories from my youth are tied to the great songs written by Sting — whether it was first seeing the Police perform in Philadelphia or hearing his music on the radio or playing those albums until I wore them out,” said Jody Gerson, Chairman & CEO of Universal Music Publishing Group. “I could never have imagined that someday I would get to lead a company that will be the guardian of Sting’s remarkable songwriting legacy. Every one of us at UMPG looks forward to this work with a sense of honor, responsibility and enormous excitement about what we can achieve for his music in the future.”

Sting, managed by Martin Kierszenbaum/Cherrytree Music Company, is also one of the world’s most distinctive, prolific and acclaimed solo artists, having released 15 studio albums between 1985’s debut The Dream of Blue Turtles and his most recent, The Bridge, released in November 2021. Sting’s acclaimed albums include UK No. 1s …Nothing Like the Sun, The Soul Cages, Ten Summoner’s Tales, Mercury Falling, Sacred Love, Brand New Day, and more. Sting has received an additional 11 Grammy Awards for his solo works, three further Brit Awards including the prestigious Outstanding Contribution to Music Award in 2003, a Golden Globe and an Emmy Award. He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2002 and presented with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2000.

Throughout that time, the prolific singer and songwriter has worked with Universal Music Group, and much of that time with Sir Lucian Grainge, the Chairman & CEO of Universal Music Group.

“I’ve had the privilege to work with Sting for over 20 years and I’m so thrilled to expand our relationship to now include music publishing,” said Grange. “Sting is a songwriting genius whose music permeates global culture. We are honored that by choosing UMPG for his music publishing, Sting’s entire body of work as a songwriter and recording artist — from the Police to his solo work — will all be within the UMG family. It’s a responsibility we don’t take lightly as well as a great validation of what we have built for artists at UMG.”

In addition to his own hit songs, Sting’s songwriting has inspired many other artists. His work has been sampled by many younger artists including Nas, The Roots, 2Pac, RZA, Kygo & Avicii, the Black Eyed Peas, Craig David, French Montana, Talib Kweli, Fugees and Cam’ron. Additionally, his songs have been covered by an array of the world’s most acclaimed artists including George Michael, Johnny Cash, Herbie Hancock, Isaac Hayes, Eva Cassidy, Violent Femmes, Gloria Gaynor, Shirley Bassey and Fall Out Boy.

Now, at age 70, Sting appears far from done with his music career as he prepares to resume his My Songs world tour next month, followed by his critically acclaimed Las Vegas residency at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace in June 2022.