Bob Dylan has sold his songwriting portfolio for somewhere in the neighborhood of $300, maybe $400, million. That means that whenever “Like a Rolling Stone”, “Blowin’ in the Wind” or any of six hundred other Dylan songs is sold, streamed, played on the radio or used in a commercial, the songwriting royalty payment will go to the Universal Music Publishing Group, not Bob Dylan. This includes songs covered by other artists, such as “Mr. Tambourine Man” by The Byrds or Jimi Hendrix’s version of “All Along the Watchtower.”
Could it be that Mr. Dylan, now seventy-nine years old, decided it was time to take the money? With nobody buying CDs or records any more, and no live performances in this era of COVID 19, and Spotify and other streaming services paying infinitesimal royalties, an upfront lump-sum payment is the reverse-mortgage of the music business.
February 1959: Buddy Holly, J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson, Ritchie Valens and pilot Roger Peterson died when their chartered plane crashed into an Iowa cornfield. Richardson, suffering from the flu, had talked bassist Waylon Jennings into letting him have his place on the plane. Guitarist Tommy Allsup had given up his seat to Valens on a coin flip.
Waylon Jennings talks
about his friend and mentor Buddy Holly and the Day the Music Died.