Bob Dylan is tangled up in green.

The 79-year old legendary pioneer of modern rock music, and the only songwriter to win a Nobel Prize for Literature, has sold his entire publishing catalog—more than 600 copyrights spanning 60 years—to Universal Music Publishing Group, according to the company.

While terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, it is likely worth hundreds of millions of dollars—rivaled in value and influence only by the Beatles. The move helps Mr. Dylan set up his musical legacy and cash in on his life’s work.

Over the past five years, owning and selling the rights to music has become more valuable, as revenue from music streaming has grown. Songwriter catalogs have been commanding sale prices that amount to 10 to 18 times their annual royalties, compared with eight to 13 times in earlier years, according to people involved in the deals. Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks last month closed a deal to sell a majority stake in her publishing catalog, valuing it at $100 million, according to people familiar with the matter. 

“By bringing to UMG the vast and brilliant Dylan songwriting catalog, in an instant, we have forever transformed the legacy of this company,” said Universal Chief Executive Lucian Grainge in an email to employees Monday. Universal Music Group is owned by Vivendi SA .


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