David Bowie’s Estate Sells Music Catalog to Warner Chappell for $250 Million

Sale includes work from all 26 of Bowie’s studio albums, including hits like “Space Oddity” and “Changes”

David Bowie Portrait 1976
(Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

In the latest sale of a musician’s music catalog, the estate of David Bowie has sold the global music publishing rights to the glam rocker’s entire song library to Warner Chappell Music, the company announced Monday.

The deal, which an individual with knowledge of the terms pegged at $250 million, includes Bowie’s entire body of work across six decades, including some of his biggest hit songs “Space Oddity,” “Changes,” “Life on Mars?,” “Ziggy Stardust,” “Starman,” “Rebel Rebel” and many more.

It also includes songs from all 26 of his studio albums and his posthumous release “Toy,” as well as two studio albums from the band Tin Machine along with other tracks released as singles from soundtracks or other projects.

Warner Music Group last year agreed with the Bowie estate to license worldwide rights to Bowie’s music catalog from 1968, and WMG is now home to Bowie’s body of work as both a songwriter and a recording artist.

“All of us at Warner Chappell are immensely proud that the David Bowie estate has chosen us to be the caretakers of one of the most groundbreaking, influential, and enduring catalogs in music history. These are not only extraordinary songs, but milestones that have changed the course of modern music forever,” Warner Chappell Music CEO Guy Moot said. “Bowie’s vision and creative genius drove him to push the envelope, lyrically and musically – writing songs that challenged convention, changed the conversation, and have become part of the canon of global culture. His work spanned massive pop hits and experimental adventures that have inspired millions of fans and countless innovators, not only in music, but across all the arts, fashion, and media. We are looking forward to tending his unparalleled body of songs with passion and care as we strive to build on the legacy of this most extraordinary human being.”

“This fantastic pact with the David Bowie estate opens up a universe of opportunities to take his extraordinary music into dynamic new places. This isn’t merely a catalog, but a living, breathing collection of timeless songs that are as powerful and resonant today as they were when they were first written,” WCM co-chair and COO Carianne Marshall noted. “We were pleased that the estate felt that Warner Chappell has the knowledge, experience, and resources to take the reins and continue to promote a collection of this stature. All of our global leaders and departments are incredibly excited and primed to get to work with these brilliant songs across multiple avenues and platforms. And with both sides of WMG now representing Bowie’s career, we couldn’t be better set up to represent this illustrious body of work.”  

“We are truly gratified that David Bowie’s body of music will now be in the capable hands of Warner Chappell Music Publishing. We are sure they will cherish it and take care of it with the greatest level of dignity,” Allen Grubman added on behalf of the David Bowie estate and RZO.

Bowie died in January 2016 following an 18-month battle with cancer and within days of the release of his album “Lazarus.”

Bowie’s catalog sale is the latest in a string of similar sales by legacy rock artists, including most recently Bruce Springsteen, whose own catalog sold to Sony for $500 million late last year.