According to two persons briefed on the agreement, Sony has agreed to purchase half of Michael Jackson’s library from the star’s estate, making this probably the largest-ever sale for a single musician’s work.
According to rumors that have been circulating for months in the music business, Sony will acquire a 50% share in Michael Jackson’s songwriting and recorded music archives. This includes the music publishing assets that are a part of Jackson’s Mijac library, which includes songs penned by Sly Stone and songs made popular by singers like Ray Charles and Jerry Lee Lewis, in addition to the estate’s portion of megahits like “Beat It” and “Bad.”
The two persons, who asked to remain anonymous because they were not allowed to discuss the sale in public, claim that Jackson’s assets are worth at least $1.2 billion. Nevertheless, it excludes some of the estate’s holdings in other profitable Jackson-related ventures, such as the Broadway musical “MJ,” Jackson-themed Cirque du Soleil productions, and an upcoming biopic starring Jackson’s brother Jermaine’s son Jaafar Jackson.
According to reports, the estate will retain a sizable amount of authority over the catalog following the acquisition. This is in contrast to many other recent successful catalog deals, such as those involving Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, and others. These transactions typically transfer song control to a buyer, even though they occasionally contain carefully negotiated restrictions on how an artist’s work may be used in the future, such as in commercials or political endorsements.
The Jackson estate’s and Sony’s representatives declined to comment on the agreement, which was initially reported by Billboard. John Branca, who served as Michael Jackson’s entertainment lawyer during his career and is currently the co-executor of his estate, responded to a question on the arrangement by saying, “As we have always maintained, we would never give up management or control of Michael Jackson’s assets.”
A representative of Primary Wave, a music label that holds a minority interest in Jackson’s song publishing business, declined to comment. Primary Wave was not involved in the deal.
The agreement is essentially a validation of Jackson’s ongoing star power and the universal appeal of his music, fifteen years after his death at the age of fifty in 2009, the night before a London comeback concert series.
Even in the face of setbacks like the 2019 HBO two-part documentary “Leaving Neverland,” in which two men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, claimed to have been sexually abused by Michael Jackson for years when they were youngsters, Jackson’s allure has not faded. Jackson’s estate referred to the movie as “tabloid character assassination” and stated that Robson and Safechuck had previously denied any abuse occurred when testifying under oath; Robson was a prominent witness during Jackson’s 2005 molestation trial, during which Jackson was found not guilty.
Branca claimed that the film’s release had an effect on the estate’s revenue. However, Jackson’s popularity among viewers is still very high. Halloween brings a rise in the song “Thriller” streams. Furthermore, according to the Broadway League, “MJ,” the musical based on Michael Jackson’s life, launched two years ago and has made $172 million in New York. Three other overseas productions of the show are also in the works, in addition to an American touring production currently in progress.
Jackson had a long history with Sony and its Epic label, which put out his best-selling solo albums, including “Thriller” and “Bad.” However, Jackson eventually regained ownership of the songs.
Sony acquired the Jackson estate’s part of the massive music publishing company Sony/ATV in 2016 for a sum of $750 million. For $41.5 million, Jackson had acquired ATV, the company’s predecessor, in 1985. The company’s crown gem was ownership of the majority of Beatles tunes.