You can throw away that red light, Roxanne, you’ll never work another day in your life. Sting, the writer of some of the 1980s and 90s biggest hits as a solo artist and lead singer of The Police, has sold his entire music catalog. He joins a growing list of legacy musical acts that are cashing in and selling their publishing rights to the highest bidder.
Sting struck a deal with Universal Music Publishing to buy the rights to both his solo and Police hits, Variety reported. That includes “Roxanne,” “Every Breath You Take,” Fields Of Gold,” “Desert Rose,” “Message in a Bottle,” and “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” among many other hits from the 17-time Grammy winner. Neither party said how much the deal was worth, but recent reports said Sting was looking to sell for $350 million.
“I am delighted to have Jody and the team at UMPG curate and manage my song catalog,” Sting said as part of a press release. “It is absolutely essential to me that my career’s body of work have a home where it is valued and respected — not only to connect with longtime fans in new ways but also to introduce my songs to new audiences, musicians, and generations. Throughout my career, I have enjoyed a long and successful relationship with UMG as my label partner, under the watchful guidance of Lucian, so it felt natural to unite everything in one trusted home, as I return to the studio, ready for the next chapter.”
Dozens Of Other Artists Have Cashed in, Sold Their Catalog
Sting is just the latest in a long line of artists who have decided to sell off their life’s work. Just in the past few months Bob Dylan, Kenny Chesney, David Bowie, John Legend, Bruce Springsteen, and ZZ Top, among many others have all cashed in on their legacies. Some made hundreds of millions for their songs. Springsteen made half a billion dollars for his catalog.
But aside from money, why are so many musicians selling their music now?
It’s an interesting time for music. Streaming has made songs more accessible than ever. But those plays pay far much less than regular record sales.
The value of music is higher, and interest rates are low, CNBC reported. Major investors realize they can make billions over the next few decades from the royalties, and low-interest loans sweeten the deal.
Also, many of these musicians have reached their retirement years. They’d like to find the right buyer now rather legacy is in good hands rather than have their estate farm it out to some potentially unscrupulous person after their death.
And, of course, COVID plays a role. Many artists haven’t toured in two years. Selling their catalogs provide a quick infusion of cash.
David Crosby tweeted his frustrations in December about why he wanted to sell his music.
“I am selling mine also … I can’t work … and streaming stole my record money … I have a family and a mortgage and I have to take care of them so it’s my only option … I’m sure the others feel the same.”