David Bowie’s Music Catalogue Rights Just Got Bought by a New Owner: What to Know

by Clayton Edwards
(Photo by Theo Wargo/WireImage via Getty Images)

David Bowie released a staggering number of albums over the course of his career. Between 1964 and 2016, he dropped 27 studio albums. His discography also includes 21 live albums, nearly fifty compilation albums, and a slew of singles and EPs. He wasn’t just a prolific artist, though. He was iconic and inspired countless people. Today, just about everyone old enough to purchase music knows his name.

In the coming years, fans will be able to buy most of David Bowie’s discography in one spot. Variety reported that Bowie’s estate sold a large portion of his catalog to Warner Music Group. His estate sold them the rights to all of his albums released from 2000 through 2016. However, Warner already owned nearly everything he released before then. His albums, singles, and EPs that hit shelves between 1968 and 1999 already belong to Warner Music Group. They’ll have the rest of his works in 2023.

David Bowie released four albums between 2000 and his death in January of 2016. So, come 2023, Warner will own Heathen, Reality, The Next Day, and Blackstar. The latter was his final outing and dropped just days before his passing.

David Bowie also released several live albums after 2000. However, most of those were recordings of concerts that took place decades before their release.  

There are a few recordings that Warner Music Group won’t own. Before hitting his stride, Bowie recorded several singles as well as a self-titled album on various small British labels. Those recordings weren’t part of the latest deal. However, Warner already owns many of Bowie’s most iconic recordings. Albums like Space Oddity, Station to Station, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars are all already under Warner’s umbrella.

The Many Faces of David Bowie

David Bowie has an album or era for just about every mood. His second album Space Oddity was a folk-rock record. However, the film 2001: A Space Odyssey heavily influenced both the title and its content. As a result, Bowie combined space travel with mellow acoustic sounds. Many fans remember the title track which features the iconic line, “Ground control to Major Tom,” and the launch countdown in the track’s intro.

However, that wouldn’t be the last time that David Bowie flirted with the theme of space travel. His most iconic incarnation, Ziggy Stardust, arrived in his fifth album. In The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, we see Bowie becoming an alien-like entertainer.

Sometimes, though, the concepts of David Bowie’s records were a little more esoteric. For instance, some believe that Station to Station details Bowie’s journey into the occult. More specifically, they say he used the album to discuss his dive into Kabbalistic Magic and other forms of ancient magical practices. This is mostly due to the lyrical content of the album’s title track.