Warner Music buys entire David Bowie archive in multimillion-dollar deal

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

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

David Bowie in the studio during the recording of Diamond Dogs.Credit:Getty Images

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

Warner Music did not disclose the financial terms of the deal in its announcement on Tuesday morning (AEDT), but a person familiar with the matter said the purchase was worth about $US250 million ($344 million).

Bowie’s estate in September signed a deal that gave Warner Music global rights to the artist’s catalogue from 1968 through to 2016. The new deal secures Warner outright ownership of Bowie’s entire archive.

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

But it was his 1972 portrayal of a doomed bisexual rock envoy from space, Ziggy Stardust, that propelled him to global stardom.

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 release of new recordings.

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

Its deal with Bowie’s estate comes days before what would have been the rock star’s 75th birthday on January 8.


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