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Bob Dylan’s $22 Million Dollar Publishing Deal: Protest Songs Pay

EXCLUSIVE With the Coen Brothers’ “Inside Llewyn Davis” coming out this year– a movie about the folk era that produced Bob Dylan in 1961– there’s going to be renewed interest in the genre. So it turns out that I’ve come across a 2010 music publishing contract extension for Dylan. And the fictional Llewyn Davis will really kick himself after reading it. Protest songs are quite lucrative. Dylan signed an extension in 2010 that puts him right now in the middle of a quietly executed $22 million deal. Not bad.

According to terms of the deal with Sony/ATV Music, Dylan gets a payout of $4.4 million every December from 2010 to 2014. It covers all hits hits from “Like a Rolling Stone,” “Blowin’ in the Wind,” and “Just Like a Woman” to more recent hits like “Make You Feel My Love” and “Things Have Changed.”

***Take the poll–your favorite Bob Dylan song*** on the home page

The deal was signed based on some projects that worked out and others that didn’t. Dylan did release a new album last year. But a planned huge box set that was in the works was sidelined, perhaps permanently.

The deal was a safe one for Sony/ATV. According to the memo, Dylan had averaged $4 million a year from 2006 to 2010 anyway in publishing royalties. And that’s why songs that can “covered”– recorded by other artists– or played on radio and in various venues are so valuable. It’s hard to imagine what rappers like Jay Z and Kanye West make from publishing contracts since their tracks, beats, and samples are self-contained performances.