Sony Music Group has reportedly reached an agreement to buy half of Michael Jackson‘s publishing and recorded masters catalog in a deal that valued those music assets at more than $1.2 billion, according to Billboard. The platform added that Sony will pay at least $600 million for its stake.
The Seattle Times reported that the deal is probably the richest transaction for a single musician’s work. In other words, it is the biggest ever deal for the work of a single musician.
The deal is said to be bigger than the $1.2 billion deal sought by rock band Queen, which includes royalties from income streams beyond the masters and publishing, including from the Freddie Mercury biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” and theatrical productions using Queen’s music, according to Billboard.
Sony’s deal with the Michael Jackson estate includes not only the estate’s share of hit songs like “Beat It” and “Bad” but also the music publishing assets that are part of Jackson’s catalog. This includes songs written by Sly Stone and tracks made famous by artists like Ray Charles and Jerry Lee Lewis, as reported by The Seattle Times. However, the deal does not include royalties from the Broadway play and other theatrical productions that used Jackson’s music, Billboard reported.
The deal leaves the Michael Jackson estate a significant degree of control over the catalog compared with other major catalog deals in recent years like that of Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and Paul Simon.
Jackson died in 2009 but his songs remain extremely popular on music streaming services. According to reports, he averages 40 million monthly listeners on Spotify. His hit songs, “Billie Jean” and “Beat It,” have each been played more than one billion times on Spotify alone, according to the BBC.
This is not the first time Jackson is doing business with Sony. In 1991, it paid $100 million to buy the first half of what became Sony/ATV, as per Billboard. ATV is the catalog that Jackson purchased in 1985 that included the Beatles catalog.
Per the deal, Sony and Jackson owned 50% of Sony/ATV, however, in 2016, Sony paid $750 million for the remaining 50% of Sony/ATV.