Why “The Weight” by The Band Was Included in Bob Dylan’s Deal With Universal

Dylan sold his entire songwriting catalog to Universal earlier this week

Why "The Weight" by The Band Was Included in Bob Dylan's Deal With Universal
Bob Dylan and the Band perform at Madison Square Gardens, (L-R Levon Helm, Robbie Robertson and Dylan), in 1974.

When Bob Dylan sold his entire songwriting catalog of more than 600 tunes to Universal Music Publishing Group earlier this week, “The Weight,” which was written by Robbie Robertson and recorded by The Band, was included in the deal.

In fact, the sale included all eight original songs — including “The Weight” — from The Band’s 1968 debut album Music From Big Pink (three of the songs on the record were penned by Dylan), according to Rolling Stone.

The reason why Universal now owns all the songs on Music From Big Pink is that, at the behest of Robertson, all of the members of The Band signed with Dwarf Music, a publishing company owned by Dylan and his manager Albert Grossman, prior to the album being recorded.

The deal was a typical publisher-songwriter contract with Dylan and Dwarf receiving half the income from a song and the other half being split five ways between the recording artist, in this case the five members of The Band.

Thanks to “The Weight” consistently being used for commercial purposes throughout the years, the Big Pink arrangement has provided the members of The Band or their estates, as well as Dylan, with a steady stream of income.

“The Weight” could easily pull in a few hundred thousand dollars in a year depending on how it is used, according to Rolling Stone.

Though Dylan’s deal includes all of his published works as well as the songs from Big Pink, the agreement with Universal does not include any of his unreleased songs or anything he writes in the future, leaving open the chance for him to work with another publisher, The New York Times reports.

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