The sale of Bob Dylan's publishing rights to Universal Music Publishing Group may have been worth more than the estimated $300 million that was reported yesterday. It has now been learned that Dylan may have rejected a $400 million offer from Merck Mercuriadis' Hipgnosis Songs Fund.

The news comes via Rolling Stone, citing an unnamed "source familiar to the situation." If true, that means that either Dylan believes Universal is better equipped to handle his catalog or they made a bigger offer.

None of the involved parties, however, is confirming the financial details. Mercuriadis simply told Rolling Stone, “I congratulate [Universal] on making the deal. You don’t need me to say this is one of the greatest catalogs of all time. There’s Bob Dylan, there’s the Beatles, and there are very few others that touch that rarified air.”

Over the past few years, many artists with valuable catalogs, including Journey, Stevie Nicks, Nikki Sixx and Richie Sambora, have sold their publishing rights in exchange for large, lump-sum payments. Hipgnosis has been the biggest player, having amassed a portfolio of more than 60,000 songs worth about $1.66 billion since they were founded in 2018.

Publishing is considered to be the most lucrative aspect of the music industry, and many successful artists have had financial problems because they signed away their copyrights early in their careers. It's been suggested that diminished royalties in the era of streaming, changes in tax laws regarding estate planning and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic keeping musicians off the road are among the reasons artists are selling their publishing rights.


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