Bob Dylan has sold his entire music publishing catalogue to Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG) for an estimated $300 million — although the tally could be as high as $400 million. The catalogue of over 600 songs spans a full 60 years up through Dylan's most recent album, 2020's Rough And Rowdy Ways.
Sir Lucian Grainge, the Chairman and CEO of Universal Music Group said in a statement:
As someone who began his career in music publishing, it is with enormous pride that today we welcome Bob Dylan to the UMG family. 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. 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.
The New York Times reported, “Since Universal now controls his work, Dylan will no longer have veto power over how his songs will be used. After the deal was announced early Monday, users on Twitter had a field day with corny puns suggesting how Dylan’s work could be exploited. 'Pay Lady Pay, one user quipped. 'Tangled Up In Blue Cross/Blue Shield, wrote another. Still, Universal insisted it would be tasteful in its use of Dylan’s work.”
A while back, Bob Dylan gave a frank interview to BBC TV, in which he explained that when he was starting out, the music business — for a guy like him — was probably the last place he could expect to become wealthy: “Y’know, there wasn’t any money, there wasn’t this big million dollar industry that it is today. And people do go into it just to make money, because it’s proved that you can make money in that field. That’s a sad thing, y’know, because it changes the quality of the work that’s being done. And you can tell, I mean, if you listen to the popular tastes of the people.”