Bruce Springsteen has sold his music rights to Sony Music Entertainment in what may well be the biggest transaction ever struck for a single artist’s body of work.
News of the deal, which covers the entirety of Springsteen’s work as a recording artist and songwriter, emerged late Wednesday, with no comment from Sony or Springsteen. But on Thursday, Sony — which owns the Columbia label, the home for Springsteen’s recordings for five decades — confirmed the sale.
“I am one artist who can truly say that when I signed with Columbia Records in 1972, I came to the right place,” Springsteen said in Sony’s statement. “During the last 50 years, the men and women of Sony Music have treated me with the greatest respect as an artist and as a person. I’m thrilled that my legacy will continue to be cared for by the company and people I know and trust.”
Specific terms were not disclosed, but the transaction is valued at about $550 million, according to two people briefed on the deal, who spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to discuss the matter.
Sony clarified that the agreement involves two separate deals — one for Springsteen’s recorded work and another for his songwriting rights, known as music publishing. Some of the financing for the publishing acquisition was contributed by Eldridge, a private investment firm whose other media deals have included the songwriting catalog of the rock band the Killers.
Springsteen’s deal, which was signed in the days before Thanksgiving, will give Sony ownership of the star’s complete collection of classic songs like “Born to Run,” “Born in the U.S.A.” and “Blinded by the Light.”
It is the latest and biggest megadeal in what has been a frothy couple of years in which investors, major music companies and private equity firms — lured by the rise of streaming and a promise of growing music revenues for years to come — have poured billions of dollars into buying song catalogs.
Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Stevie Nicks, Shakira, Neil Young and many other stars have sold all or parts of their work for prices reaching into the hundreds of millions. Dylan’s deal, with Universal Music Publishing Group last year, was only for his songwriting and was estimated at well over $300 million.
More big deals are expected to close by the end of the year, including one for the songwriting rights of David Bowie.
At a Sony investor relations meeting in May, Rob Stringer, the chief executive of Sony Music, said that the company had spent $1.4 billion in acquisitions in the previous six months, a period that included the Simon deal as well as others for entire companies like AWAL, which provides services to independent artists.
Springsteen, 72, has been with Columbia Records, a unit of Sony Music, for the entirety of his five-decade career, and has long controlled the rights to his recordings. He also owns the copyrights to his songwriting and essentially acts as his own music publisher, though since 2017 his songwriting has been administered by Universal.