Paul Simon is the latest major musician to part with their songwriting catalogue. Rolling Stone reported the 79-year-old legend has inked a deal to sell his publishing rights to Sony Music Publishing, with the company purchasing “the total collection of his catalogue.” No financial details were released regarding the deal.
Last year, Bob Dylan sold his entire music publishing catalogue to Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG) for an estimated $500 million. So far, Simon is the only other songwriter of that caliber from the same era to have put their catalogue on sale.
The deal with Sony covers all of Simon's work — from his earliest songs from his Simon & Garfunkel days through his most recent original album, 2016's Stranger To Stranger.
Sony Music Publishing CEO John Platt said in a statement:
Paul Simon is a masterful, once-in-a-lifetime songwriter whose remarkable body of work has generated an enduring influence on our culture and consciousness. From Simon & Garfunkel standards like “Bridge Over Troubled Water” to solo classics such as “Graceland,” Paul Simon’s music resonates deeply as a cultural touchstone for people all over the world. To represent his indelible songs is an incredible honor for Sony Music Publishing, so with tremendous pride, I welcome Paul to our family.
Although Paul Simon calls on his life experiences for his material, he admitted that it sometimes it takes time to name and number whom he exactly is writing about: “Once I knew more about what I was writing, then I began to recognize the characters; 'Oh, that's this person in my life, that's this event, or this is somebody I know.' So in a sense the snapshot analogy is so. More like a movie than a snapshot, because they seem to be stories. Quite often the songs are stories.”
Paul Simon was recently asked whom he considered the top songwriters in modern times: “I would probably put (George) Gershwin in there melodically and maybe Richard Rodgers melodically, Hank Williams should be in there. I think — maybe Bob Marley's in there. I think out of my generation there's a few (who) were exceptional, but the great melody writer out of my generation, I thought — in his youth — was Paul McCartney.”