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Sting Looking to Sell Publishing and Master Recording Royalties

Sting has been quietly shopping a bundle of his publishing, master recording and neighboring rights royalties since the spring. According to sources familiar with the package, the rights boast a combined annual income in the range of $12 million to $13 million.

The Sting camp is looking for a pricey multiple floor at 30 times the annual royalties, sources say, which by using the lower royalty estimate, comes out to a $360 million valuation. Suitors meanwhile think a more realistic valuation of the assets would carry a multiple somewhere in the range of 18-25 times, or $216 million to $300 million.

The music assets in the royalties package are said to include music publishing from Sting’s entire career, including songs from The Police, while his master recording royalties are solo career only. Sting’s music publishing catalog is boosted by an above-average component of royalties coming from cover songs and samples used in popular hip-hop songs by Puff Daddy and Juice Wrld, among others. Sting’s management did not respond to a request for comment.

Sting, who just turned 70, recorded five studio albums during his tenure as singer and bassist in The Police, writing most of the band’s hit songs, including “Roxanne,” “Message in a Bottle,” “Don’t Stand So Close to Me,” “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” and “Every Breath You Take.” His solo career spans 14 studio albums with another arriving next month, including hits like “We’ll Be Together,” “All This Time” and “If I Ever Lose My Faith in You.”

Acquisitions for musicians and songwriters’ master recording and publishing catalogs — as well as stakes in their royalties — are booming. Increased interest from investors entering the market have been driving up multiples, as they compete to get into growing streaming and licensing revenues.
Earlier this month, Billboard reported that Bruce Springsteen was in talks with Sony to sell his album catalog, estimating that the albums carry a valuation of between $145 million and $190 million.

While Sting’s proposition is considered a pricey deal by veteran music industry buyers, one such executive involved in the trading of music assets notes that the influx of private equity into the music assets marketplace, buying the Sting assets would “immediately” put them on the map.

“That’s a classic first buy for someone that wants to make a big splash,” the executive says.