Diane Warren: I Will Never Sell My Song Catalog - Rolling Stone
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Diane Warren: I Will Never Sell My Song Catalog

“It would be like selling my soul,” the legendary songwriter says on our Rolling Stone Music Now podcast, “and that’s not for sale.”

Diane Warren arrives at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

Diane Warren arrives at the Oscars on Sunday, February, 9th, 2020, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles.

Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

Hipgnosis Songs Fund, Primary Wave, and other firms are on a shopping spree for high-profile music catalogs, snapping up publishing rights from songwriters ranging from Bob Dylan to Stevie Nicks to Neil Young. But Diane Warren, who’s been writing hits for 37 years, from DeBarge’s “Rhythm of the Night” to Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” to Toni Braxton’s “Un-Break My Heart,” says she has no intention of selling her songs to anyone.

Merck Mercuriadis, founder/CEO of Hipgnosis and a music-biz lifer, is well aware that Warren isn’t interested, she says in a career-spanning interview on our Rolling Stone Music Now podcast. “I’m friends with Merck,” says Warren, who will release a guest-singer-laden debut album, Diane Warren: The Cave Sessions Vol. 1, later this year. “He knows that’s a non-starter. It would be like selling my soul, and that’s not for sale.”

(To hear the entire episode, which also includes a look back at the creation of Warren’s biggest hits, press play below, or download and subscribe on iTunes or Spotify.)

Warren has her own publishing company, Realsongs, which handles all of her material. “The way I started my company wasn’t because I was a savvy business person,” she says. “It was basically because I was in a lawsuit with a publisher. It was right after ‘Rhythm of the Night,’ so everybody kind of wanted to sign me and I couldn’t sign anywhere. My lawyer was like, ‘You need to start your own publishing company.’… And then all of a sudden, all these hits started happening. And these were songs I owned, and  I never looked back. So it wasn’t because I was super-savvy or anything. It just happened. It’s my company, with one writer, and it’s a pretty successful company.”

Warren does understand why other writers are selling. “I get it,” she says. “I mean, times are hard. And if you need the money, publishing is so valuable. Truly one of the most valuable assets, I guess, in the world is a great song. But yeah, I’m not interested in selling.”

Download and subscribe to our weekly podcast, Rolling Stone Music Now, hosted by Brian Hiatt, on iTunes or Spotify (or wherever you get your podcasts), and check out three years’ worth of episodes in the archive, including in-depth, career-spanning interviews with Bruce Springsteen, Halsey, Neil Young, Phoebe Bridgers, the National, Dua Lipa, Alicia Keys, Questlove, Julian Casablancas, Sheryl Crow, Johnny Marr, Scott Weiland, Liam Gallagher, Alice Cooper, Fleetwood Mac, Elvis Costello, Donald Fagen, Phil Collins, Justin Townes Earle,  Stephen Malkmus, Sebastian Bach, Tom Petty, Eddie Van Halen, Kelly Clarkson, Pete Townshend, Bob Seger, the Zombies, Gary Clark Jr., and many more — plus dozens of episodes featuring genre-spanning discussions, debates, and explainers with Rolling Stone’s critics and reporters. Tune in every Friday at 1 p.m. ET to hear Rolling Stone Music Now broadcast on SiriusXM’s Volume, channel 106.

 

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