The Highest Price Ever Paid for Songwriting Rights
While Universal hasn’t disclosed the purchase price, specialists have estimated Dylan’s catalog at over $300 million. The company can now collect money any time other musicians cover any of the over 600 songs in the catalog.
The Universal Publishing Group, which is owned by the French media giant Vivendi, can also earn revenue for allowing Bob Dylan’s songs to be used in commercials and movies, as well as be streamed, sold commercially, or broadcast.
Bob Dylan, Commercials & Song Rights
Bob Dylan was against his songs being used in commercials, but that changed in 1994 when he let the accounting firm called Coopers & Lybrand (the predecessor of the current giant PricewaterhouseCoopers) use his 1964 protest anthem The Times They Are A-Changin’ in a TV spot.
This wasn’t the first as Bob Dylan had done a prominent deal for Victoria’s Secret TV spot in 2004 and later worked with Pepsi, IBM, Apple, and Cadillac. Two years later, Dylan launched a high-end whiskey brand, Heaven’s Door.
However, the artist is still very picky about how his songs are used commercially, and he will no longer have the veto power over that.
Universal to Be Tasteful in Using Dylan’s Work
Bob Dylan is one of the most widely honored songwriters of all time, winning both a special citation Pulitzer Prize in 2008 and a Nobel Prize in literature in 2016. This is why Jody Gerson, the chief executive of Universal felt the urge to make a public statement:
“To represent the body of work of one of the greatest songwriters of all time — whose cultural importance can’t be overstated — is both a privilege and a responsibility.”