Sting sells his songwriting catalogue for an estimated $404m

Sting's deal covers both the copyrights for his songs and his royalties as a songwriter. PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (NYTIMES) - British singer Sting has sold his songwriting catalogue, including hits with rock band The Police such as Every Breath You Take and Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic, and solo work such as If You Love Somebody Set Them Free, to the Universal Music Group, in music's latest blockbuster catalogue deal.

The transaction, announced on Thursday (Feb 10) by Universal's music publishing division, Universal Music Publishing Group, covers the 70-year-old's entire output as a songwriter.

Financial terms were not disclosed, but the deal is estimated to be worth around US$300 million (S$404 million).

Over the past couple of years, major music conglomerates and Wall Street investors have poured billions of dollars into music deals, driven by the growth of streaming, low interest rates and old-fashioned competition.

In December, Sony purchased Bruce Springsteen's entire catalogue - covering both his songwriting and recorded music, which have separate copyrights - for around US$550 million.

Bob Dylan, in separate deals, sold his songwriting to Universal for more than US$300 million and his recordings to Sony for an estimated US$150 million to US$200 million.

Paul Simon, Tina Turner, Motley Crue, Stevie Nicks and Neil Young have all struck deals in the eight and nine figures.

Sting's deal covers both the copyrights for his songs - which total more than 600 - and his royalties as a songwriter, which means that Universal would stand to receive all future music publishing income from his work.

In 2019, licensing agency BMI said Every Breath You Take (1983) had become the most-performed song in its catalogue of more than 14 million pieces, beating out You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin', a No. 1 hit in 1965 by the Righteous Brothers that was written by Phil Spector, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil.

Sting's recorded music output, for his solo work as well as by The Police, is also controlled by Universal.

"It is absolutely essential to me that my career's body of work have a home where it is valued and respected," Sting, whose real name is Gordon Sumner, said in a statement.

"Not only to connect with longtime fans in new ways but also to introduce my songs to new audiences, musicians and generations."

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