November 30, 2023


Arts Eternal

David Bowie’s entire music catalogue sold to Warner Music

Warner Music Group’s publishing unit has bought late British rock star David Bowie’s entire catalogue spanning six decades, including hits such as Space Oddity, Ziggy Stardust, Heroes and Let’s Dance.

Bowie, who pushed the boundaries of music and his own sanity to produce some of the most innovative songs of his generation, died in 2016 at 69.

The deal between Bowie’s estate and Warner Music includes songs from the 26 studio albums released during his lifetime, as well as the studio album Toy, released posthumously. 

Deal reportedly worth about $250M US

Warner Music did not disclose the financial terms of the deal in its announcement on Monday, but a person familiar with the matter said the purchase was worth about $250 million US.

Bowie’s estate had in September signed a deal that gave Warner Music global rights to the artist’s catalogue from 1968 through 2016.

WATCH | Examining Bowie’s impact on music and culture: 

Our special panel takes a deeper look at David Bowie’s impact on music and culture. 13:41

Bowie shot to fame in Britain in 1969 with Space Oddity, the lyrics of which he said were inspired by watching Stanley Kubrick’s film 2001: A Space Odyssey while stoned.

But it was his portrayal of the character Ziggy Stardust, a doomed bisexual rock envoy from space from the eponymous song on the album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars that propelled Bowie to global stardom beginning in 1972. 

The deal for his catalogue is the latest in the media rights sector, where companies have sought to boost royalties by purchasing artists’ catalogues after the pandemic hit physical revenue streams and delayed the release of new recordings.

Warner Music, home to musicians such as Cardi B, Ed Sheeran and Bruno Mars, has also partnered with pop star Madonna to relaunch her entire catalog over the next few years.

News of the deal comes days before what would have been Bowie’s 75th birthday on Jan. 8.