Three sources tell that the Michael Jackson estate is in the process of selling half of its holdings in the late singer’s music library for a sum between $800 million and $900 million. Sources claim that Sony and a potential financial partner are negotiating to acquire 50% of the estate’s interests in Jackson’s publishing, recorded-music revenues, the Broadway production of “MJ: The Musical,” the upcoming biopic “Michael,” and possibly more assets. Details of the negotiations are unclear.
The deal would be the largest one in the still-exploding music library business to date.
A financial source informed that Primary Wave Music already has an interest in Jackson’s publishing library, though the specifics were not made explicit.
Multiple requests for comment were refused by representatives for the Jackson estate, co-executors John Branca and John McClain, Sony, and Primary Wave.
For example, Bruce Springsteen’s publishing and recorded music catalogues were purchased by Sony for a combined sum of almost $600 million, according to sources. Sony has been involved in some of the largest historical catalogue purchases that are known to exist. According to sources, the business also paid $150 million to $200 million for Bob Dylan’s catalogue rights after the renowned musician sold those rights to Universal Music for close to $400 million. These mega-deals have grown commonplace in recent years; for example, the three Genesis core members sold a catalogue bundle to Concord for $300 million. However, if the reports are true, the Jackson purchase is by far the largest to date.
Eldridge Industries, which partnered with Sony on the Springsteen catalogue deal and also acquired the Killers’ pre-2020 publishing catalogue, and Shamrock, which recently partnered with Universal on a $200 million+ catalogue acquisition from Dr. Dre, would be likely suspects. Shamrock also recently acquired the rights to Taylor Swift’s first six albums from Universal for $200 million.
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Jackson’s recorded music was exclusively distributed by Sony and its predecessor CBS for the entirety of his solo career and the latter part of his time with the Jackson 5. The singer passed away in 2009 at the age of 50, and Branca, his longtime lawyer, and co-executor John McClain have handled his estate’s strong entertainment interests with a firm hand.
Jackson’s recorded music collection is one of the most successful in history; his 1982 album “Thriller” alone is one of the two best-selling albums of all time and the first to receive a 30-times platinum certification, though such statistics have gotten murky in the streaming era.
With the Jackson estate, Sony Corp. negotiated a $750 million agreement in 2016 to buy out the Jackson estate’s 50% ownership in their 1995 joint venture, Sony/ATV Music Publishing. As part of its $2.3 billion acquisition of EMI Music Publishing, Sony announced in an earnings report from 2018 that it had paid $287.5 million for the Jackson estate’s 25.1% interest in the business.
At the conclusion of that lengthy procedure, which started six years earlier but was not approved by the European Union until 2018, Sony became the sole owner of the largest music publishing corporation in the world and had acquired full ownership of EMI and Sony/ATV.
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