Sting sells his songwriting catalog for an estimated $300 million
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Sting sells his songwriting catalog for an estimated $300 million
Sting backstage at the Arena Regina di Cattolica during his Back to Bass Tour in Cattolica, Italy, July 29, 2013. Marco Gualazzini/The New York Times.

NEW YORK, NY.- Sting has sold his songwriting catalog, including hits with 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 catalog deal.

The transaction, announced Thursday by Universal’s music publishing division, Universal Music Publishing Group, covers Sting’s entire output as a songwriter. Financial terms were not disclosed, but the deal is estimated to be worth around $300 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 catalog — covering both his songwriting and recorded music, which have separate copyrights — for around $550 million. Bob Dylan, in separate deals, sold his songwriting to Universal for more than $300 million and his recordings to Sony for an estimated $150 million to $200 million. Paul Simon, Tina Turner, Mötley Crüe, 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,” from 1983, had become the most-performed song in its catalog 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, his band, 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.”

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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