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David Bowie’s estate sells entire recording catalogue in huge deal

The legendary singer's entire catalogue has been sold to Warner Chappell Music

By Will Richards

David Bowie wears a suit and a hat standing in front of a garage with a wide grin
David Bowie. (Picture: Press)

The estate of David Bowie has sold the rights to his entire legendary catalogue to Warner Chappell Music.

Material from across the late icon‘s career has been sold in a deal worth upwards of $250million (£185m), according to Variety.

Confirming the news, Warner Chappell CEO Guy Moot said: “All of us at Warner Chappell are immensely proud that the David Bowie estate has chosen us to be the caretakers of one of the most groundbreaking, influential, and enduring catalogs in music history. These are not only extraordinary songs, but milestones that have changed the course of modern music forever.

“Bowie’s vision and creative genius drove him to push the envelope, lyrically and musically – writing songs that challenged convention, changed the conversation, and have become part of the canon of global culture. His work spanned massive pop hits and experimental adventures that have inspired millions of fans and countless innovators, not only in music, but across all the arts, fashion, and media. We are looking forward to tending his unparalleled body of songs with passion and care as we strive to build on the legacy of this most extraordinary human being.”

Allen Grubman, a spokesperson for Bowie’s estate, added: “We are truly gratified that David Bowie’s body of music will now be in the capable hands of Warner Chappell Music Publishing. We are sure they will cherish it and take care of it with the greatest level of dignity.”

David Bowie performs live
David Bowie performs at Glastonbury Festival in 2000.

The deal follows a slew of high-profile artists to have sold the rights to their back catalogue in recent months. In December 2020, Bob Dylan’s deal with Universal for his songwriting catalogue also fetched $300 million, while Tina Turner also recently sold her back catalogue rights for £225 million, with Bruce Springsteen also struck a huge £377m deal with Sony Music.

One of the most prolific recent acquirers of artists’ rights is Hipgnosis Songs, who said last July that they have spent at least $1 billion (£720 million) across deals with artists including Blondie and both Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac.

Elsewhere, the BFI’s month-long David Bowie retrospective, ‘Bowie: Starman and the Silver Screen’, has been confirmed for January 2022.

The season arrives at BFI Southbank twelve months on from its originally intended date, having been postponed when cinemas closed in the UK during the 2021 lockdown. It will now run from January 1 to January 30 next year; January 8 would have been Bowie’s 75th birthday.