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Bob Dylan Sells Recorded Music Catalog to Sony Music

Bob Dylan has sold the master rights to his entire recorded music catalog to Sony Music Entertainment, the company has announced. The deal also includes “the rights to multiple future releases.” Billboard estimates that Dylan’s master rights are worth over $200 million.

In a statement, Dylan said, “Columbia Records and [Sony Music Group Chairman] Rob Stringer have been nothing but good to me for many, many years and a whole lot of records. I’m glad that all my recordings can stay where they belong.”

Dylan signed with Columbia Records in 1961. All of his studio albums—from 1962’s Bob Dylan through 2020’s Rough and Rowdy Ways—have been released via the label. He signed a new deal with the label in 1974, which may have resulted in him regaining control over his masters, according to Billboard. Sony acquired Columbia’s parent company CBS Records Inc. in 1988, renaming it Sony Music Entertainment Inc. in 1991.

In 2020, Dylan sold the publishing rights of his entire catalog to Universal Music Publishing in a deal that’s estimated to be worth over $300 million. Songs have two copyrights: recorded rights (which include master tracks) and publishing rights (which pertain to composition—i.e., music and lyrics). As Rolling Stone puts it: “Recorded rights are tied more directly to streaming and sales royalties while publishing rights pertain more to performances and use in film and television.”

Read “What to Know About Music’s Copyright Gold Rush” on the Pitch.


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