Michael Jackson’s Estate ‘Wanna Be Starting Something’ With $900 Million Music-Catalog Sale

By Sabrina Lynch

  • Sony Music and an anonymous financial partner are circling the Michael Jackson Estate to acquire 50% of his publishing and musical catalog for $900M
  • 73% of the U.S. music market is dominated by catalog records instead of new releases

Sony Music and an anonymous financial partner are circling the Michael Jackson Estate again as they seek to acquire 50% of the estate’s interest in the King of Pop’s publishing and musical catalog for $900 million. The record label has a long-standing relationship with Jackson’s estate, having previously secured a $750 million agreement to acquire a 50% stake in their joint venture, Sony/ATV Music Publishing. If the partnership is green-lit, it would become the biggest deal to date in the music music catalog market

Why This Matters: Black music continues to be the fruitful frontier of music-catalog sales. Michael Jackson’s 1982 “Thriller”  is one of the two biggest selling albums of all time, which is why we’ve seen so many deals in this space for other artists. John Legend recently sold his entire music catalog to KKR Co and BMG, whilst Hipgnosis acquired the catalogs of Pusha-T, RZA and Timbaland. Tempo also absorbed two of the biggest labels in the Hip Hop genre, Young Money and Death Row Records. 

Music icon Tina Turner sold approximately 60 years’ worth of rights to her music for approx  $50 million, with BMG again acquiring the rights to her name, image, and likeness for future sponsorship and merchandising deals. These acquisitions are no different to the history of rock stars making bank by selling their old songs, and where Sony Music has been scooping up deals left, right and center. Recently they bought Bruce Springsteen’s catalog and publishing for $500 million, along with Bob Dylan’s catalog for around $200 million.  

What’s Next: Millions of dollars are being made from selling back catalogs, giving new artists on the scene a new way of making money for the future and surpassing what music royalties bring. Sony Music is also looking to extend this acquisition to claiming stakes in the current broadway production MJ: The Musical and upcoming biopic on the artist titled  “Michael”. 

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