Neil Diamond sells complete song catalog and all master recordings to Universal

2022 is shaping up to be a blockbuster year for catalog acquisitions.

Today (February 28), we learn that Universal Music Group has acquired the entirety of iconic artist and songwriter Neil Diamond’s song catalog (via Universal Music Publishing Group), as well as the rights to all recordings from his career.

The agreement encompasses hits such as Sweet Caroline, Red Red Wine, Solitary Man, Cracklin’ Rosie, Song Sung Blue, Love on the Rocks and America, and the catalog also includes 110 unreleased tracks, an unreleased album and archival long form videos.

UMG’s latest catalog deal comes just over two weeks after Sting sold his entire song catalog to Universal’s publishing division UMPG in a deal one expert industry source tells MBW reached a final acquisition fee north of $300 million.

UMG hasn’t disclosed the price of the deal with Neil Diamond.

The music company notes that its “comprehensive global agreement” with Diamond unifies the artist and songwriter’s recorded music and publishing in its new “permanent home at Universal Music Group”.

Diamond has sold more than 130 million albums over the past half century.

The deal builds upon UMPG’s existing relationship with Diamond, as the company has served as his publishing administrator since 2014.

Additionally, UMG says that its agreement with Diamond “cements a professional homecoming”, reuniting his early Bang recordings and post-1972 recordings with those he recorded exclusively with UMG’s MCA Records between 1968 and 1972, a period in which he released hits such as Sweet Caroline, Holy Holy, and the chart-toppers Cracklin’ Rosie and Song Sung Blue.

Since 2013, Diamond has enjoyed what Universal calls “a fruitful recording agreement and licensing deal” with UMG for the non-MCA recordings through its Capitol Music Group division and Universal Music Enterprises (UMe), a relationship that produced three albums.

Under the new agreement, which includes previously unreleased tracks, UMG will also record and release Diamond’s future music, should he decide to return to the studio.

Diamond’s accolades, among others, include a Grammy, a Golden Globe, Kennedy Center Honors and an ASCAP Film and Television Music Award, as well as induction into both the Songwriters Hall of Fame and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

His songs have been covered by Johnny Cash singing Solitary ManUB40 performing Red Red Wine, Frank Sinatra singing Sweet Caroline, Andrea Bocelli’s re-interpretation of September Morn as Sara’ SettembreThe Monkees’ signature I’m A Believer and Barbra Streisand singing You Don’t Bring Me Flowers – the latter, coincidentally, a classmate of Diamond’s at Brooklyn’s Erasmus Hall High School.

His music has been used to soundtrack some of the most popular Film & TV series of all time, from The Simpsons, Friends, Mr. Robot and The Big Bang Theory to Donnie Brasco, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood and Urge Overkill’s rendition of Girl You’ll Be A Woman Soontaken from Tarantino’s Pulp Fictionand of course his own starring turn in 1980, as the lead in The Jazz Singer.

By acquiring Diamond’s entire catalog, all masters and unreleased concert video – and through ongoing collaboration with the artist himself – UMG says that it is “determined that new and growing audiences will remember this unmatched singer and his music for generations to come”.

Neil Diamond was represented in the transaction by Gene Salomon from Gang, Tyre, Ramer, Brown & Passman, Inc. and his manager Katie Diamond.

“After nearly a decade in business with UMG, I am thankful for the trust and respect that we have built together.”

Neil Diamond

In making the announcement Neil Diamond, said: “After nearly a decade in business with UMG, I am thankful for the trust and respect that we have built together and I feel confident in the knowledge that Lucian, Jody, Bruce, Michelle and the global team at UMG, will continue to represent my catalog, and future releases with the same passion and integrity that have always fueled my career.”

“Through our existing partnership, we are honored to have earned his trust to become the permanent custodians of his monumental musical legacy.”

Sir Lucian Grainge

Sir Lucian Grainge, Chairman and CEO of Universal Music Group, said: “Neil Diamond is by definition, a truly universal songwriter.

“His immense songbook and recordings encompass some of the most cherished and enduring songs in music history.

“Through our existing partnership, we are honored to have earned his trust to become the permanent custodians of his monumental musical legacy.”

“A legendary artist and songwriter, Neil’s music exemplifies how truly great songs have lasting power and stand the test of time.”

Jody Gerson, UMPG

Jody Gerson, UMPG Chairman and CEO, added: “A legendary artist and songwriter, Neil’s music exemplifies how truly great songs have lasting power and stand the test of time.

“With this acquisition, in which UMPG COO Marc Cimino played an invaluable part in, our global teams across all of Universal Music will work together to ensure that all of his timeless hits like Sweet Caroline, Red Red Wine and Cracklin’ Rosie will continue to impact generations of fans, both existing and those to come.”

“Over his meteoric career, Neil Diamond created one of the greatest recording catalogs in pop music history.”

Bruce Resnikoff, Universal Music Enterprises and Michelle Jubelirer, Capitol Music Group

Speaking on the announcement, Bruce Resnikoff, President and CEO, Universal Music Enterprises (UMe) and Michelle Jubelirer, Chair and CEO, Capitol Music Group, jointly said: “Over his meteoric career, Neil Diamond created one of the greatest recording catalogs in pop music history.

“To be able to represent it in its entirety is both an honor and a thrill, and the entire Universal Music team looks forward to upholding his iconic legacy.”


The Neil Diamond and Sting deals stuck by UMG this month form part of an ongoing trend at the three major music companies, which have been striking big-money catalog deals since December 2020, when Universal acquired the publishing rights to Bob Dylan’s songwriting catalog. The deal was one of the biggest acquisitions in the company’s history.

Three months later, in March 2021, Paul Simon sold his song catalog to Sony Music Publishing (SMP).

SMP also became the home of Bruce Springsteen’s song catalog last year, in December 2021, when Sony Music Group acquired two sets of rights – both recordings and music publishing – covering the entirety of Springsteen’s catalog, in a deal worth around $550 million.

This trend continued last month (January 2022), with Warner Music Group buying David Bowie’s song catalog for over $250 million, and Sony Music Entertainment acquiring Bob Dylan’s catalog of recorded music in a deal sources suggest was worth north of $150 million.

Meanwhile, last week we learned that financial giant BlackRock (not to be confused with Hipgnosis-backing Blackstone) has co-invested with Warner Music Group in a new $750 million fund to acquire stakes in music copyrights.

The three majors also have other competition of course, in the form of various acquisitive players with deep war chests operating within the music rights acquisitions market, including the likes of Primary Wave, Hipgnosis, KKR, Iconoclast, and Spirit Music Group, which just last week bought Jason Aldean’s masters in a deal MBW understands cost Spirit more than $100 million.

MBW estimates that at least $5 billion was spent on music rights acquisitions in 2021.Music Business Worldwide

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