Sony buys half of Michael Jackson’s catalogue for record sum

Comment by Jen Seyderhelm

With so much heated discussion about the value of a playing songs on radio, the monumental sum that the Sony Music Group have apparently paid for just half of Michael Jackson‘s catalogue is worth a mention.

That amount is thought to be in USD $600 million, making the entire catalogue worth $1.2 billion. This is double the amount of Bob Dylan, thought to be the previous highest earner off selling his masters to Sony and Traveling Wilburies material to Primary Wave.

Sony have not yet commented on the purchase so the amount could be lower, or even higher. Jackson was a canny investor so the deal is also reported to include songs acquired by his Mijac publishing group by artists including Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin and the King himself, Elvis Presley.

Below is a list below of other notable music catalogue sales. Many artists choose to keep the sale value undisclosed, so the below are close estimates also in USD.

  • Bob Marley – $50 million.
  • Imagine Dragons – $100 million
  • Justin Timberlake – $100 million
  • Calvin Harris – $100 million.
  • Stevie Nicks – $100 million.
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers – $140 million.
  • Neil Young (50% share) – $150 million
  • Justin Bieber – $200 million
  • Dr Dre – $200 million
  • Paul Simon – $250 million.
  • David Bowie – $250 million
  • Sting – $300 million
  • Genesis – $300 million
  • Bruce Springsteen – $500 million.
  • Bob Dylan – $600 million.

We’ve seen modern revivals of artists like Kate Bush, Fleetwood Mac and Presley through TikTok, TV and films. A biopic of Jackson, with his nephew playing the lead role, will rekindle interest in his hits. Last month he had 38 million listeners on Spotify. ‘Beat It’ has had more than a billion listens, ‘Billie Jean’ 1.6 billion!

Playing Michael Jackson has been a sensitive topic for some classic hits stations, which I’ll be interested to see if the biopic addresses.

Not so Queen. Discussions around their own catalogue sale have been swirling for the last 12 months with Billboard saying last week the sale is perhaps already in an ‘exclusive period with an undisclosed suitor’. It is thought that Queen might be a billion dollar band too. They have 50 million monthly listeners, and five songs with a billion streams on Spotify. ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ has 2 billion plus.

With the absolute onslaught of Taylor Swift on the radio (and everywhere else for that matter) as she heads to Australia this week these amounts that singers and song writers are worth, and their catalogues, is extraordinary when it is given an actual dollar figure. I’ll be following with interest Queen’s catalogue sale, and the financial outcomes of Swift’s Australian leg of her Eras tour. There is money, big money, still in the music industry.

Tags: | | | | | | | |