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Sting sells entire songwriting catalogue to Universal

The rocker becomes the latest star to ink a nine-figure deal

By Joe Goggins

Sting press shot, 2021
The deal could be worth more than $250 million. (Photo: Tomoko Itoki/Press)

Sting has become the latest musician to sell off their entire catalogue, striking a deal with Universal.

The agreement sees Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG) acquire all of the ‘Every Breath You Take’ hitmaker’s solo work, as well as his songwriting contributions to his old band, The Police. Per Variety, the terms of the deal were not disclosed, but representatives for the 17-time Grammy winner had reportedly been seeking a fee in the region of $350 million (£258 million) in recent months.

It marks another major catalogue buy for Universal, after the group reportedly paid Bob Dylan north of $300 million (£225 million) for his 600-song life’s work in December 2020. That deal fired the starting pistol on a slew of similar deals in 2021, with the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Fleetwood Mac, Tina Turner and the estate of David Bowie having followed suit.

In a statement, Sting, who has spent most of his career with Universal, said: “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 long-time 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 Universal Music Group as my label partner, under the watchful guidance of Lucian [Grainge, UMG CEO],” he continued. “So it felt natural to unite everything in one trusted home, as I return to the studio, ready for the next chapter.”

Grainge himself added: “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. 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.”

The deal means that Universal now control all of Sting’s biggest hits, including ‘Roxanne’, ‘Message in a Bottle’, ‘Fields of Gold’ and ‘Englishman in New York’, among others. His most recent release was last November’s ‘The Bridge’, his 15th studio album.