Bruce Springsteen sold his masters and rights to Sony for $500 million

Bruce Springsteen
Being born in the USA seems to have some awesome advantages. And if you are a rocker who made it big in the 60s to the 80s, 2021 has been a good year for you. Tina Turner, Stevie Nicks, and Bob Dylan all have inked lucrative deals for the publishing rights and masters to their songs. Tina even signed over the rights to her image. Now Bruce Springsteen has added his name to the growing list of musicians selling their masters and publishing rights. The NY Times announced that Bruce signed a deal with Sony that is reportedly worth upward of $500 million. Bruce has signed over songs including Born in the USA, Dancing in the Dark, and Born to Run. Below is more on the deal via CNN:

The deal would be the largest ever transaction for a single artist’s catalog, according to the Times, and would include his work as both a singer and songwriter.

One of the premier rock artists of all time, Springsteen is responsible for such hits as “Born in the USA,” “Dancing in the Dark” and “Born to Run.” He and the E Street Band, who he has played with for decades, have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Springsteen’s latest album, “Letter to You,” was released in October 2020.

Springsteen reopened Broadway in June with his “Springsteen on Broadway” performances after Covid-19 restrictions halted full-capacity shows for more than a year.

[From CNN]

I know I made a big deal about how low Tina Turner’s deal was but I understand that Tina didn’t write her songs. It makes sense that Stevie, Bob and Bruce would receive more money. Honestly I still think Stevie was lowballed but she was only selling her portion of the Fleetwood Mac catalog. I think Bruce has had the highest deal so far but his catalog is just as extensive as Bob Dylan’s. And I am sure Born in the USA is what earned the bigger pay out. I am happy to see some of my favorite rockers from my childhood cashing in on their talent. If I got a $500 million deal, I would never perform again. I know that Bruce dropped a new album last year and this year he did a book and podcast with Barack Obama, but I am wondering if he will stop making music after this deal. Bruce makes music because he just loves music but at some point I think he should just enjoy his life on his estate in New Jersey. Sh*t if I had signed a $500 million deal, I’d be flying around the world and chilling at a lavish lake in Italy somewhere. Anyway, I hope to see more of my favorite musicians signing these deals. They have given me songs for my life’s soundtrack and I feel that they need to be celebrated and compensated for their exceptional talent.

photos credit: and InStar

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21 Responses to “Bruce Springsteen sold his masters and rights to Sony for $500 million”

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  1. Becks1 says:

    I don’t think he’s going to stop making music. I think that’s just kind of what he loves to do – make music and perform.

    (side note: if anyone here has not seen him live, you have to make that a priority on his next tour. He’s AMAZING live. There is such an energy to his shows.)

    Anyway my husband is a huge Bruce fan (I’m the Stevie Nicks fan in the house, lol) so we’ve been talking about this a lot for the past few days. I am not clear why he got so much more than Dylan, unless the thinking was that his songs are more marketable?

    I would not be surprised if there was a clause that Born in the USA can’t be used for political purposes, especially not by a Republican, lol. (Born to Run is a better album anyway)

    • AnnaC says:

      No kidding! I grew up in NJ so seeing Bruce live was almost a right of passage. Saw him at the former Giants stadium when they were recording the live album and nothing compares. He played for something like 3 hours, barely took a break, just amazing.

      • Ann says:

        Same here! I didn’t see that particular concert, but I did see him at Giants Stadium. I also saw him at Live Aid!

    • liz says:

      I agree with all of this. Bruce is never going to stop writing/making music. It’s all he knows.

      He’s an incredible live performer. I’ve seen him dozens of times and it’s clear that he lives to perform for an audience. He’s also admitted as much publicly. That said, I don’t know that he will ever do another massive world tour. He was cutting back on touring pre-COVID. Since the pandemic started, he did a second Broadway run and has done a few charity appearances, none of which involved getting on an airplane. He might do long residencies on Broadway again (I don’t see him relocating to Vegas to do a residency there). He may also do what Billy Joel is doing – semi-regular concerts in one location (but Bruce will be at the Pru in Newark – an easy train ride from Manhattan).

      Also, his mother is in her 90s and has Alzheimer’s; he and Patty are responsible for her (my understanding is that Adele and her caregivers live in their own home on/near his farm). He will take her needs into consideration before doing anything.

      This is clearly an estate planning move. These artists all saw what happened when Tom Petty and Prince died. It took decades of legal battles to sort out Jimi Hendrix’s estate. They just do not want that to happen within their own families, so they are setting up the processes for managing the catalogues before they die.

      As for why Bruce got more than Bob? Bruce’s catalogue is just more marketable. It’s also bigger and Bruce has a nice little side gig, selling the soundboard recordings of various live shows. That’s not an option for Bob.

    • Eleonor says:

      I saw him in 2004.
      At the time I didn’t know him, a friend of mine is a huge fan, and she was supposed to go to the concert with someone else, who dropped out last minute. So she called me, and I was “why not”.
      I went to the concert without knowing one single song (Born in the Usa or Born to run, but nothing else): he played for 3 freaking hours.
      We had shitty places because we didn’t have too much money, but after the concert was over he started doing bis. At that point the gate opened. We ran like crazy and we ended in front of the stage for 1hour and more. RESPECT.
      I screamed and danced and now I am a fan.
      Whenever he is around no matter how much the ticket is, he is worth it.

  2. D says:

    I wonder if it just got too complicated for them to deal with the streaming services and they feel it’s easier to just get out now and have someone else handle it? The big record labels have systems in place and hey, they get a lump sum to do with what they want. Bruce probably just doubled his net worth. It’s just so interesting that so many of them are doing this right now. Bruce is a shrewd business person so this must be a good move for the artists.

    • Becks1 says:

      I do think this is part of it, and also for estate planning – if you don’t want there to be fights or stress or tension over your catalog, the best way to avoid that is for YOU (you = the artist) to make that decision and do what you want with your catalog, and then you can do what you want with that money NOW, including making sure it goes where you want in your will. I don’t think its a coincidence that the people doing this are all over 70 (I think, isnt Tina over 70?)

      I don’t know if this is still true, but I remember hearing years ago that the real money from albums etc was from touring, and i wonder if that plays a part here – these artists maybe don’t want to tour like they used to, or this is just an easier way to make that money. IDK.

      • Merricat says:

        I agree that touring has been a great moneymaker, and now that live concerts are harder to do, it makes sense to me that selling off the catalog is the move they make.

      • LightPurple says:

        Tina is 82. Dylan is 80.

      • Silent Star says:

        @Becks, excellent point. Having been an executor to a parent’s estate myself, I can see that estate planning could have been a big factor in this decision. Liquidating assets into cash before your death makes things so much easier. The money could also be moved into more lucrative investments meanwhile. It just gives Bruce and his beneficiaries (including charities) so much more flexibility, and fewer headaches for the executors. Smart move IMO.

  3. Lucy2 says:

    I wonder if many of these situations are the artists wanting to control the deal and its restrictions, rather than leave that up to their estate when they are gone.
    Or they just want to cash out while they can!

  4. Lightpurple says:

    Considering what he went through early in his career to get legal control over his rights and masters, I find this a bit surprising.

    • Waitwhat? says:

      That was my first thought when this was mooted a while back. But that particular legal battle was almost 50 years ago…

      I think it’s likely a combination of estate planning, not knowing whether major tours will be a realistic possibility (even though the Stones are all 5-10 years older than him, he may not see himself doing world tours again, especially given that the pandemic shows no signs of abating),and a response to the success of streaming platforms.

      I’m not sure what his net worth was before this (maybe $300 million?) but $500 million is a preposterous amount of money.

  5. Merricat says:

    The artists who have sold their catalogs are of a certain age. It’s easier to divide money than song catalogs, I guess.

  6. AnnaC says:

    I wonder if it was, in part, also a way to balance out some of the inheritance or trust money for their kids. Two of them are low key, one is actually a firefighter in NJ, but their daughter is a world class and Olympic team member equestrian, and they’ve supported her financially for years.

  7. Teddy says:

    Why do they sell? Aren’t they already rich enough? Man of the people Bruce needs $500 million? Sorry, don’t get it.

    • outoftheshadows says:

      I’m guessing that he’ll give some of that money to charity and social causes. That’s an amount of money that I can’t even imagine having. He won’t miss it even if he gives away half.

    • Beach Dreams says:

      Eh, artists tend to make most of their money from touring. That’s been the case even before the streaming era. This move from Bruce, Tina, Stevie, and a bunch of other artists in the past year or two is partially a reaction to the even lower profit they’ll get from their music now that streaming is the big thing.

  8. SuSuSusio says:

    I’m all for artists being celebrated and compensated for their work.

    But this isn’t about celebration. It’s $500M worth of commerce & commercialization.

    And while any artist has absolute right to hold or sell as they wish, I am tired of hearing great, poetic songs used for commercial jingles.

    No disrespect to any artist who chooses to monetize their catalogue.

    It’s just tiresome that everything becomes a commodity to sell something else.

    • NCWoman says:

      An amazing number of young people have no idea who Bruce Springsteen is. Using his back catalog music in commercial ventures is a way to expose people to his music going forward. Think of it as less of a commodity and more of him both securing his musical relevance in the wider world for generations to come and reducing the burden on his family having to deal with the catalog.

  9. olliesmom says:

    Good for him. I’m sure that the MAGATS are losing their collective mind over this. He’s on our side. We have all the good ones and they have Uncle Ted and Kid Rock.