Sting has sold his songwriting catalog, including hits with the Police like “Every Breath You Take” and “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic,” and solo work like “If You Love Somebody Set Them Free,” to the Universal Music Group, in music’s latest blockbuster catalog deal.
The transaction, announced on Thursday by Universal’s music publishing division, the 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 last 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, the licensing agency BMI said that “Every Breath You Take,” from 1983, had become the most-performed song in its catalog of over 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.”