Paul Simon sells 60 years of music to Sony

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Paul Simon has sold his entire music catalog to Sony, the latest artist of his generation after Bob Dylan and Neil Young, while Dolly Parton is still thinking about doing so.

Over 60 years of songs, from the time of the duo Simon & Garfunkel to the subsequent period as a solo singer, are at the center of the monumental agreement that Simon and Sony himself reported.

“I started my career at Columbia / Sony Records and it feels like a natural extension to work with the publishing division. I am happy that they are the custodians of my songs for decades to come.”

For Sony Publishing, whose CEO Jon Platt spoke of “an incredible honor”, the agreement is particularly important: the publishing division, which represents among others Motown, Michael Jackson, the Beatles, Carole King, Stevie Wonder, Queen, and Leonard Cohen, is the largest in the world, but has recently lost major pieces including music by Taylor Swift who contracted as a teen but switched to Universal Music a year ago.

The terms of the deal with Simon have not been disclosed but are expected to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The database of BMI, the entertainment artists’ copyright organization to which the singer is affiliated, has over 400 songs under his name, including some that have been the soundtrack for the last half century, from Sound of Silence to Bridge over Troubled Water, Mrs. Robinson from Graduate , Still Crazy after All These Years and Graceland , inspired by South African street music: the song of the great return after the musical break with childhood friend Garfunkel and the divorce from actress Carrie Fisher.

Awarded 16 times with a Grammy, Paul Simon will turn 80 in October and three years ago, the curtain fell on the farewell tour Homeward Bound , he stopped touring although in 2019 he exceptionally appeared on stage in San Francisco. The agreement is part of an increasingly popular trend: Dylan, Young, Stevie Nicks and Mick Fleetwood, the founder of Fleetwood Mac, have in recent months sold their catalogs in exchange for fabulous sums: for Dylan there was talk between 300 and 400 million dollars for 600 songs, while Young would have grossed 150 million for 50% of his music production. The boom in streaming services like Spotify in the months of the pandemic is behind the boom in sales of music catalogs generating revenue every time they are played on the radio, the internet or used in movies, TV shows or online fitness programs like Peloton. But the lockdown that has blocked concerts and tours is also at stake (“I never would have sold if I hadn’t been forced to,” said David Crosby, former member of the Byrds and co-founder of Crosby, Stills and Nash) for not talk about the age of the musicians involved: with rare exceptions they are all at least seven-year-olds.

Sony Music Publishing already owns the rights to the catalogs of Motown, Michael Jackson, the Beatles, Carole King, Stevie Wonder, Leonard Cohen and many other artists.

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