US dollars money

There has been no official announcement at the time of writing, but several reports are confidently claiming that Sony Music has emerged as the winner in the race to buy Bruce Springsteen’s recorded music and publishing catalogue.

Billboard reported that the deal was worth around $500m, while Variety cited several industry sources as confirming that the deal is “done” even if it’s not announced yet. The latter added that Universal Music had also been in the mix for the publishing catalogue, which may be one reason why the final price is higher than the $350m that was predicted earlier this year.

File this alongside Universal’s acquisition of Bob Dylan’s publishing catalogue in 2020 as evidence of the major music companies’ willingness to go toe-to-toe (or wallet-to-wallet) with the likes of Hipgnosis and Round Hill Music in the frenetic catalogue-buying market.

The latter have to some extent positioned themselves as disrupters, with fresh ideas (and technology) for exploiting storied catalogues of music in ways the incumbents had been slow to explore. Naturally, that’s a narrative those incumbents have pushed back against energetically, arguing that the newcomers may find catalogue exploitation harder than they think, and pointing to their own willingness to experiment and innovate.

This is all great news if you’re a famous artist and/or songwriter hoping to spark a bidding war for your rights. But the competition should also be good news for the evolution of catalogue management as a discipline, with established companies and newcomers alike redoubling their efforts to prove they can do the job better than the other.

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