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Some of Michael Jackson’s music catalog — including ‘Bad’ and ‘Beat It’ — sold in Sony Music deal

The music company has made several other investments in the ‘King of Pop’ over the years

SHARE Some of Michael Jackson’s music catalog — including ‘Bad’ and ‘Beat It’ — sold in Sony Music deal
Fans write condolence notes beside Michael Jackson portrait during a rally in memory of him in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, June 28, 2009.

Fans write condolence notes beside a Michael Jackson portrait during a rally in memory of him in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Sunday, June 28, 2009.

Lai Seng Sin, Associated Press

Sony Music Group has made a potentially record-breaking deal to buy half of Michael Jackson’s music catalog, which includes not only his own hits, but also popular songs written or performed by others.

The music company’s stake involves iconic singles like “Bad” and “Beat it,” as well as publishing assets such as “songs written by Sly Stone and tracks made famous by artists like Ray Charles and Jerry Lee Lewis,” per The New York Times.

Even after the sale, Jackson’s estate retains significant creative control, the article said.

The deal, according to Billboard, could potentially involve the largest valuation ever assigned to a musician’s assets. Some sources speculate the value may be as much as $1.5 billion. At the higher valuation, Sony would pay $600 million minimum for its stake of the musician’s rights, Billboard reported.

However, as Variety reported, royalties from the “MJ” musical and other theatrical productions with his music are not included in the deal.

Additionally, The New York Times noted that Primary Wave — a music company that owns a minority stake of Jackson’s music — was not part of the deal.

The deal’s significance to Sony Music

Sony’s reported agreement with the Jackson estate gives the company a stake in one of the most lucrative catalogs in music history.

Among other achievements, Jackson’s 1982 album “Thriller” has become one of the most sold albums of all time, and it was the first one to become certified 30-times platinum, reported Variety.

Sony, per Variety, reportedly started negotiations last February with the estate, which was said to be looking for between $800 to $900 million.

Billboard estimates that Jackson’s estate makes close to $75 million annually, with his recording and publishing assets alone bringing in over $47 million.

Billboard noted that this estimate does not account for Jackson’s growing popularity on streaming services.

It also doesn’t account for the upcoming biopic, “Jackson,” which reportedly could bolster attention and revenue for the estate.

Jackson’s previous deals with Sony

The new deal is not Sony’s first foray into partnerships with or purchases from Jackson or his estate.

In 1991, Sony paid $100 million to acquire half of and then eventually merge with ATV Music — a popular music catalog bought by Jackson in 1985, per Billboard.

Seven years after the singer’s abrupt death in 2009, Sony purchased the half of Sony/ATV that had gone to his estate, according to Variety.

Then, in 2018, Sony purchased “the Jackson estate’s share of the consortium that owned EMI Music Publishing,” on its path to becoming one of the world’s largest music publication companies, per Variety.