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Bruce Springsteen sells masters and publishing rights for $500 million

The Boss has cashed in by selling off his entire catalogue

By Joe Goggins

Bruce Springsteen performs live in 2013
Bruce Springsteen performs live in 2013 (Photo: Alamy)

Bruce Springsteen has become the latest artist to sell off the masters and publishing rights to his entire back catalogue in a hugely lucrative deal.

Per Billboard, The Boss has struck a $500 million (£377 million) agreement with Sony Music, giving the label total control over his musical life’s work, which encompasses 20 studio albums, more than 300 songs, 7 EPs and 23 live records.

Springsteen’s relationship with Sony spans decades; he’s released through their Columbia Records imprint his entire career, dating all the way back to his 1973 debut, ‘Greetings from Astbury Park, N.J.’ His latest full-length, ‘Letter to You’, arrived in October 2020.

Reports that Springsteen was looking to sell off his catalogue first surfaced last month. Billboard reported that he was hoping for a $350 million (£256.5 million) payday, which his Sony deal far surpasses. Including publishing, his annual revenue from his discography was estimated last year at $22.5 million (£16.5 million). He has yet to comment on the deal.

He follows a number of his contemporaries in selling off his work in one fell swoop. In December 2020, Universal paid $300 million (£225.5 million) for Bob Dylan’s songwriting catalogue, whilst Neil Young sold a 50% stake in his to the UK investment fund Hipgnosis in January 2021. Others, including Paul Simon, Tina Turner, Red Hot Chill Peppers and Fleetwood Mac members Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie, have made similar deals.

With the streaming market likely to generate significant royalties for major artists for years to come, agreements of this nature suit both parties; for Springsteen, a huge lump sum and the avoidance of future legal wrangling for his estate to deal with, and for Sony, the acquisition of one of rock’s great bodies of work, encompassing classic albums like ‘Born in the USA’, ‘Nebraska’ and ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town’. A likely increase in U.S. capital gains taxes in the near future is thought to be another incentive for striking the deals now.

Earlier this year, Springsteen launched an eight-part Spotify podcast, ‘Renegades: Born in the USA’, which saw him in broad-ranging conversation with Barack Obama on topics including fatherhood, family, marriage, race and the state of the nation. He revived his acclaimed ‘Springsteen on Broadway’ shows in June, for a limited run at New York’s St. James Theater.