Bob Dylan has often challenged the idea that he’s some kind of anti-establishment lefty and as if to hammer home that point, yesterday it was announced that he has sold his entire catalogue of 600 songs, including ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ and ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door’, to Universal Music in one of the biggest music publishing deals of all time. The exact terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the sheer volume and popularity of his work is likely to mean it is one of the most lucrative music publishing sales ever struck, with the New York Times reporting on Monday that it was worth more than $300m (£225m).
“It’s no secret that the art of songwriting is the fundamental key to all great music,” chief executive of Universal Music Sir Lucian Grainge, said. “Nor is it a secret that Bob is one of the very greatest practitioners of that art.”
As Alex Petridis in the Guardian notes, Dylan is no stranger to monetizing his work in the forms of seeking out “fresh revenue streams.” He goes on: “In April 2016, he struck a rights deal with Amazon, allowing the company to base a TV drama series on lyrics from his catalogue. His official merchandise range goes far beyond the usual T-shirts, stickers and mugs: the New York-based brand Barking Irons signed a deal to market an entire range of clothing based on items Dylan wore over the years, from the jacket he sported on the cover of his eponymous 1962 debut album to the shawl cardigan featured on the sleeve of 1976’s Desire. He has his own range of whiskeys, Heaven’s Door, the most expensive of which comes in a bottle featuring one of his paintings and sells for $500. No stranger to cross-platform promotion, Dylan recently reactivated his radio show, the Theme Time Radio Hour, for the first time in over a decade, for a “whiskey special” advertised with a photo of the artist with a bottle of Heaven’s Door prominently placed.”