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  • Writer's pictureOmar Holloway

Too high to get over, too low to get under = Sony Music Group moonwalk$ 50% of Michael Jackson's catalog of music legends

In what could be the largest valuation ever of a musician’s music assets, Sony Music Group has closed an agreement to buy half of Michael Jackson‘s publishing and recorded masters catalog in a deal that sources say valued those music assets somewhere above $1.2 billion. Other sources have suggested it might be as much as $1.5 billion.

At those valuations, Sony will pay at least $600 million for its stake of the legendary rights.

Sony’s deal with the Michael Jackson estate does not include royalties from the Broadway play and other theatrical productions featuring Jackson’s music.


It may not, however, just be Jackson’s music that’s involved in the deal.

Sources say the current deal includes non-Jackson-authored songs in his Mijac publishing catalog, which also includes the approximately 250-song Sly & the Family Stone publishing catalog as well as iconic songs written and/or performed by Jerry Lee Lewis, Jackie Wilson, Curtis Mayfield, Ray Charles, Percy Sledge, and Dion.

BBC reporting(s) also included music works of Elvis Presley and Aretha Franklin from MJ's collection.


Billboard estimated that the King of Pop's estate earns about $75 million annually.

Those assets include ownership of master recordings, publishing for Jackson’s share of his songs, his Mijac publishing catalog and revenue from merchandise and royalties from theatrical shows featuring Jackson’s music.

At the time, Billboard estimated that within the $75 million estimate, Jackson’s recording and publishing assets alone brought in $47.2 million to the estate; and that Mijac might be bringing in another $5 million to $8 million annually. 


Sales and streams of Jackson’s music grew steadily from 1.07 million album equivalent units in 2020 to 1.47 million in 2023 — up 37% over those three years — according to Luminate. That outpaced the overall U.S. music market for album consumption units, which grew 22.9% during that time period. Outside the United States, Jackson is arguably even more popular.

In 2023, consumption of his music grew 38.3% to 6.5 billion on-demand streams, up from 4.7 billion streams in 2021.


Next year, a Jackson biopic called "Michael" will be released (starring his nephew); and likely fuel even more growth to his fanbase, boosting consumption and triggering more revenue to flow to his estate and any other rights holder.


Throughout the years, Sony has paid the Jackson estate more than $2 billion in some major deals that go beyond distributing royalties for his records and songs.

In 1991, the company paid $100 million to buy the first half of what became Sony/ATV; ATV Music was the catalog that Jackson bought in 1985 that contained the Beatles catalog and other popular songs. That was merged into Sony’s music publishing operation to become Sony/ATV, with Sony and Jackson each owning 50% of that company. In 2016, the company paid $750 million for the remaining 50% of Sony/ATV. It also paid $287.5 million for the Jackson estate’s share of the consortium that owned EMI Music Publishing in 2018, as well as dividends during its ownership of those assets that came out to a total of about $1.6 billion.

And now, the latest deal adds another $600 million or more, driving the total amount past the $2 billion mark.


• SOURCE: Sony Music Buys Stake in Michael Jackson Catalog, Valuing Rights at Over $1.2B; The deal, which is likely worth at least $600 million, includes half of the late star's publishing and recorded masters catalog. Billboard >


*VIDEO: Michael Jackson - Billie Jean >

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