BrandArena: Sony Music acquires 50% of Michael Jackson's catalog in a $1.2 billion deal

Monday 12 February 2024

Sony Music acquires 50% of Michael Jackson's catalog in a $1.2 billion deal

Sony Music Group just completed a big transaction, acquiring 50% of Michael Jackson's publishing and recorded masters for an estimated $1.2 billion or more. This action prepares Sony to pay at least $600 million for the interest, making it the largest acquisition of a single music artist's assets to date.

In 2002, Forbes magazine assessed Jackson's 50% share in the corporation, together with other music publishing enterprises, to be worth $450 million. The organisation was valued at $700 million in 2003.

The complex deal not only includes Michael Jackson’s acclaimed Mijac publishing catalog but also features assets encompassing multiple titles by legendary artists such as Sly & the Family Stone, Jerry Lee Lewis, Jackie Wilson, Curtis Mayfield, Ray Charles, Percy Sledge, Dion, and others. Notably, it excludes royalties from the “MJ” Broadway musical and other theatrical productions featuring the musician’s music. Primary Wave Music will continue to hold a 10% stake in Jackson’s publishing assets, as confirmed by sources to Variety.

While representatives for Sony, the Jackson estate, and Primary Wave have either declined or not responded to requests for comments, the co-executors of Jackson’s estate, John Branca and John McClain, are expected to retain their roles in overseeing the late singer’s entertainment interests.

This strategic move by Sony underlines its historical connection with Michael Jackson, as the corporation and its predecessor, CBS, have been the exclusive home for Jackson’s recorded-music catalog throughout his solo career and the latter years with the Jackson 5. The singer, who passed away in 2009 at the age of 50, left behind a recorded-music catalog considered one of the most lucrative in history. His iconic 1982 album “Thriller” alone stands as one of the two biggest sellers of all time and was the first album to be certified 30-times platinum.

The deal with Sony not only solidifies its ownership of Jackson’s musical legacy but also signifies the ongoing value of his catalog, which has seen a continuous rise in the past year. In February last year, when negotiations were initially reported, the estate was believed to be seeking $800-$900 million. However, the final deal’s inclusion of a different set of assets may have contributed to the catalog’s increased value over the past year.

It’s important to note that Sony has been actively involved in previous acquisitions related to Michael Jackson’s estate. In 2016, Sony Corp. reached a $750 million agreement to acquire the Jackson estate’s 50% stake in their joint venture, Sony/ATV Music Publishing, formed in 1995. Additionally, in 2018, as part of its $2.3 billion acquisition of EMI Music Publishing, Sony revealed that it had acquired the Jackson estate’s 25.1% stake in that company for $287.5 million. This prolonged process, initiated six years earlier, led to Sony becoming the sole owner of the world’s largest music publishing company.

In light of the current deal, Sony continues to solidify its position in the music industry, emphasizing the enduring legacy and commercial appeal of Michael Jackson’s musical contributions. The acquisition underscores the ongoing relevance and profitability of iconic artists’ catalogs in an era dominated by streaming and digital consumption.

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