Paul Simon has sold his entire songwriting catalog — including classics like “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” “The Sound of Silence” and “Still Crazy After All These Years” — to Sony Music Publishing, in the latest blockbuster transaction in the music publishing business.
In its announcement of the deal on Wednesday, Sony gave few details, other than it was acquiring the “complete collection” of Simon’s compositions, including his work with Simon and Garfunkel and his solo material.
The database of BMI, the performing rights organization that Simon is affiliated with, lists more than 400 titles under his name.
Simon’s catalog includes some of the most popular songs of the last half-century. According to BMI, “Bridge Over Troubled Water” — first released by Simon and Garfunkel in 1970, and since then covered by artists including Aretha Franklin and Elvis Presley — has had more than five million broadcast performances.
Among the other songs in the collection are “The Boxer,” “Homeward Bound,” “I Am a Rock,” “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard,” “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover,” “Graceland” and “Mrs. Robinson,” which was featured prominently in the 1967 film “The Graduate.”
Financial terms were not announced. But the deal with Simon comes as transactions for high-profile songwriting catalogs — which include the copyrights for compositions, which are separate from recordings — have traded for prices well into the nine figures, lifted in part by the increasing income of streaming.
In December, Bob Dylan sold his catalog of more than 600 songs to Universal Music for more than $300 million. Neil Young sold half of his copyrights to Hipgnosis Songs Fund for a price estimated at $150 million, and Stevie Nicks sold a majority of her rights in a deal that valued her catalog at $100 million.
In a statement, Simon said he was pleased to have Sony as “the custodian of my songs for the coming decades,” and added: “I began my career at Columbia/Sony Records and it feels like a natural extension to be working with the publishing side as well.”
Jon Platt, the chief executive of Sony Music Publishing called Simon “a masterful, once-in-a-lifetime songwriter whose remarkable body of work has generated an enduring influence on our culture and consciousness.”
The deal is an important one for Sony, whose publishing division — which until recently was known as Sony/ATV — is the biggest in the industry but has had several high-profile defections recently.
Sony administers Dylan’s catalog around the world, and will lose that account once the term of his contract expires in a few years. Last year, Sony also lost Taylor Swift, who had signed with the company as a teenager but went to Universal Music, where she has also signed as a recording artist.