Bob Dylan's 60-year music catalog = a 4-year-old podcast network?

$300 million. That's what Universal Music paid for Dylan's catalog and what Amazon offered for Wondery.

From the Wall Street Journal: Amazon in Talks to Buy Podcast Maker Wondery. Closely held Wondery is the last large, independent podcaster on the market—and could present the final opportunity for a major tech or media giant to buy its way into the exploding field.

From the New York Times: Bob Dylan Sells His Songwriting Catalog in Blockbuster Deal. Universal Music purchased his entire songwriting catalog of more than 600 songs in what may be the biggest acquisition ever of a single act’s publishing rights.

Apple angle: The company sold an average of $377 million worth of iPhones per day in fiscal 2020.

My take: Something's out of whack.


  1. Steven Noyes said:
    Out of whack how? Personally, I am not of fan of Dylan’s work when he sings it though he was some amazingly impactful songs when there are real vocals behind them. $300,000,000 for his body of work seems incredibly high IMO.

    I am aware some people believe his voice is simply amazing.

    December 7, 2020
  2. Jerry Doyle said:
    Question… Who was Steve Job’s favorite singer, songwriter for whom he adored? Steve was mesmerized by this person.

    It’s a contract for the copyrights of his songwriting catalog. That is my understanding. That catalog consists of over 600 songs, some of the most remarkable lyrics ever written that will live on for generations to come, if not until the end of mankind. This also is the only contemporary musician Nobel Prize laureate in Literature of which I am aware. Correct me if I am wrong here.

    This means that Universal Music Publishing Group now gets all the “royalties” from this catalog going forward; each time the songs are played, each time another musician records one of the songs, each time anything from that catalog is used for commercial purposes.


    December 7, 2020
  3. Jerry Doyle said:

    According to Universal, Dylan’s songs have been recorded more than 6,000 times. Who to say that Universal doesn’t produce a book of those songs with a whopping price tag. Many folk will pay quite a sum for all those written lyrics in a single special bound edition.

    Historically, future generations will reflect on Dylan’s lyrics as our generation today reflect on the works of artists from past centuries.

    $300M today sounds like a lot, but in future years it will be modest when one considers the money pipeline that will be generated from business deals in copyrights, licensing fees and royalties that catalog generates for Universal. I suspect it will be in the billions. My surprise is why Bob Dylan settled for $300M.

    December 7, 2020
    • Steven Noyes said:
      I don’t know if his work will be that long lived TBH (as in Mozart, Beethoven or Chopin) . As I said, I understand many people (mostly the 60-75 age range) truly idolize his work. That number drops precariously in the 18-45 age group (none of my friends in this group, even the highly liberal ones, know of his work by name). Most of my 75+ age friends know of his work but are indifferent.

      There is no question his work spoke to a generation but I don’t think it will be as timeless as The Beatles.

      December 7, 2020

Leave a Reply