The Boss has been signed to Sony’s Columbia Records since he launched his career, and was previously given ownership of his earlier albums. But now the label owns his wide-spanning catalog, which includes the 15-times platinum album Born in the U.S.A. and five-times platinum album The River. All told, Springsteen’s discography spans 300 songs, 20 studio albums, and 23 live recordings.
Springsteen’s deal is the latest transaction involving a veteran artist looking to cash in on their back catalog — especially as the pandemic put a halt to touring. Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, Mick Fleetwood, Shakira, Jimmy Iovine, and David Crosby have all parted ways with their publishing for a hefty chunk of change in recent months.
“Given our current inability to work live,” Crosby said upon sale of his songs, “this deal is a blessing for me and my family.” The artist said he was able to pay off his house with the money from his deal.
“Time is passing,” Neil Young said when news of his deal broke. “I want to cover my family and my art.… A good father plans on how to take care of his children.” Young sold half his publishing to Merck Mercuriadis’ Hipgnosis investment company, but assured fans that there’d never be a “Burger of Gold” commercial featuring his music; he wrote in the deal that his music could not be used in advertisements.
With interest rates at historical lows and companies like Hipgnosis and Irving Azoff’s Iconic Artists Group offering millions, selling one’s catalog has become a sort of last-hurrah for musicians looking to go out on their own terms and ensure financial stability for their families.
Neither Springsteen nor Sony have commented on their own deal, however — guess we’ll have to see if Bruce appears in a car commercial (oh wait, he already did!).
Earlier this week, Springsteen performed with Steve Earle at John Henry’s Friends Benefit. Before that, he swung by Colbert for a performance of “The River” and chatted with the host about, well, everything.