For a rumored $500 million (£376 million), Bruce Springsteen has sold the master recordings and publication rights to his life’s work to Sony.
According to several US publications, the transaction gives Sony ownership of his 20 studio albums, which include hits like Born To Run, The River, and Born In The USA.
Springsteen’s music brought in about $15 million in revenue last year, making him a 20-time Grammy winner.
Bob Dylan, Blondie, and David Bowie have all had comparable deals.
In September, Warner Work acquired the international rights to Bowie’s music, while in December of last year, Dylan sold his entire repertoire of over 600 songs to Universal Music Group for a reputed $300 million.
The agreements give immediate financial certainty to the artists and their estates, while the rightsholders expect to benefit by diversifying the music’s income streams through film and television licensing, merchandising, cover versions, and performance fees.
Rob Stringer, Sony Music’s CEO, claimed during an investor relations conference in May that the firm had spent $1.4 billion on acquisitions in the preceding six months. This includes a multi-million dollar purchase to acquire Paul Simon’s back library.
If the figures cited by music industry bible Billboard are right, Springsteen’s agreement would be the most expensive thus far.
The deal has not been made public, and officials for Sony and Springsteen did not immediately reply to requests for comment from reporters.
Springsteen is one of the most successful rock performers of all time, and he has spent his whole career recording for Sony’s Columbia Records division.
He was born and reared in New Jersey, and he once stated that he wanted to record an album with words like Bob Dylan, produced by Phil Spector, and sung like Roy Orbison.
Although he’s repeatedly, and effectively, gone beyond those restrictions, it remains a succinct summation of his style and a key to understanding his vast popularity.
In 1974, music journalist Jon Landau praised one of his gigs with The E Street Band in Boston, cementing his fame.
“I witnessed rock’n’roll flash before my eyes last Thursday at the Harvard Square theatre,” Landau wrote. “& then there was something else: I glimpsed the future of rock and roll, and its name was Bruce Springsteen. He made me feel like I was hearing music for the first time on a night when I needed to feel youthful.”
Springsteen’s commercial breakthrough came the following year with the release of the successful album Born To Run, which was preceded by the grandiose, wall-of-sound title track.
It was met with ecstatic praise and saw Springsteen achieve the uncommon achievement of being featured on the covers of Time and Newsweek magazines in the same week.
He earned a formidable reputation for his sweat-drenched, hours-long concerts – and, rather unexpectedly, became one of the breakout artists of the MTV generation, with videos for songs like Hungry Heart and Dancing In The Dark on heavy rotation alongside Madonna, Michael Jackson, and Prince classics.
Born In The USA, released in 1985, was his biggest success, selling 15 million copies in the United States and 30 million globally.
Following his tremendous success, he disbanded The E Street Band, and his subsequent albums were unevenly received, while his marriage to actress Julianne Phillips ended in divorce after the star fell for his backup vocalist (and present wife) Patti Scialfa.
He won an Academy Award for the title song to Tom Hanks’ Aids thriller Philadelphia in the 1990s, and his greatest hits CD from 1995 topped the charts, selling four million copies.
Following the re-formation of the E Street Band at the turn of the millennium, Springsteen embarked on a creative spree that has yet to fade, with highlights including 2002’s The Rising, a response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, 2012’s politically charged Wrecking Ball, and 2019’s Western Stars, an homage to the Laurel Canyon pop’s golden age in the 1970s.
In 1999, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and ten years later, he performed at the Super Bowl Half-Time Show.
The 72-year-old has recently written his autobiography, also titled Born To Run, as well as a series of intimate one-man Broadway performances reflecting on his life and work.
Letter To You, his most recent album, was released in 2020, and he made rare cameo appearances on tracks by The Killers and Bleachers this year.