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Universal Music Acquires Bob Dylan Catalog in 9-Figure Deal

Bob Dylan must be ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door’ right about now, after Universal Music Publishing Group announced the acquisition of the singer-songwriter’s entire music catalog for a reported nine-figure sum.

The exact acquisition cost is still ‘Blowin’ in the Wind,’ but rumors are that it will top Stevie Nicks $100 million deal last week from Primary Wave, and could be one of the largest music catalog deals in history.

Universal has acquired Dylan’s entire collection of more than 600 copyrighted songs spanning six decades, from 1962’s Blowin’ in the Wind to this year’s epic hit Murder Most Foul.

“To represent the body of work of one of the greatest songwriters of all time – whose cultural importance can’t be overstated – is both a privilege and a responsibility,” said UMPG Chairman & CEO Jody Gerson. “The UMPG global team is honored to be Bob Dylan’s publishing partner and I especially want to acknowledge Marc Cimino whose passion and perseverance were instrumental in bringing this opportunity to us.

“We look forward to working with Bob and the team in ensuring his artistry continues to reach and inspire generations of fans, recording artists and songwriters around the world.”

The American songwriter ironically has never had a number one hit on the Billboard 100, but in that sense he is in good company among other singers or groups that have enjoyed long-lasting success, including The Who, Led Zeppelin, Johnny Cash, Bruce Springsteen, or Jimi Hendrix, whose most popular song All Along the Watchtower was, incidentally, written by Dylan.

The American legend has penned and performed a list of songs that are not only popular, but also considered among the most influential of any music artist in the past century, in terms of music, politics and culture. Dylan did score a pair of number two hits, but his true measure is likely measured by the immense and lasting popularity of his entire body of work, so impressive that he earned the distinction of becoming the first songwriter in history to earn a Nobel Prize for Literature “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”

Bob Dylan’s songs have been recorded more than 6,000 times by an array of artists representing dozens of countries, cultures and music genres. Some of his best known works include the aforementioned “Blowin’ In The Wind,” “The Times They Are a-Changin’,” “Like A Rolling Stone,” “Lay Lady Lay,” “Forever Young,” “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door,” “Tangled Up In Blue,” “Gotta Serve Somebody,” “Make You Feel My Love,” and the Academy Award-winning “Things Have Changed.”

In the six decades since he broke into music in Greenwich Village coffee houses, Bob Dylan has sold more than 125 million albums, amassed dozens of hits, and still tours to this day, performing close a hundred concerts annually.

As much a poet as a songwriter, Dylan’s works moved Universal Music Group’s Chair and CEO Sir Lucian Grainge to wax poetic himself, saying, “It’s no secret that the art of songwriting is the fundamental key to all great music, nor is it a secret that Bob is one of the very greatest practitioners of that art.  Brilliant and moving, inspiring and beautiful, insightful and provocative, his songs are timeless—whether they were written more than half a century ago or yesterday.

“It is no exaggeration to say that his vast body of work has captured the love and admiration of billions of people all around the world,” Grainge added. “I have no doubt that decades, even centuries from now, the words and music of Bob Dylan will continue to be sung and played—and cherished—everywhere.”



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