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Queen could sell their catalog to Sony for $1 billion

Queen could sell their catalog to Sony for $1 billion

Image source, Getty Images

Comment on the photo, Freddie Mercury, who died in 1991, was the dynamic and charismatic frontman of Queen

  • author, Mark Savage
  • Role, Music reporter

Sony Music is reportedly in talks to buy rock band Queen’s music catalog, including hits such as Bohemian Rhapsody, Radio Ga Ga and Another One Bites The Dust.

According to BloombergSony is working with another investor on the deal, which “potentially totals up to $1bn” (£790m).

The BBC has learned that negotiations are still ongoing and may not lead to a sale.

If it goes ahead, the deal will cover Queen’s songs and all related intellectual property rights, including rights to logos, music videos, merchandise, publishing and other business opportunities.

Discussions about the sale have been taking place since last year.

Universal Music is also said to have been involved, given the company’s long relationship with the band, which signed with British label EMI in 1972 and remained with the company after Universal bought it in 2011.

If the group achieves the $1bn price tag, it will be the biggest deal of its kind, surpassing the $500m (£393m) that Sony paid to acquire Bruce Springsteen’s catalog in late 2021.

Earlier this year, Sony also acquired a 50% stake in Michael Jackson’s music from the late singer’s estate – at a cost of at least $600m (£472m).

Comment on the photo, Queen has recorded six number one singles and 10 number one albums in the UK

This is thanks in part to the success of the biopic Bohemian Rhapsody and the band’s continued touring with singer Adam Lambert, but mainly because songs like Crazy Little Thing Called Love and We Will Rock You remain internationally popular and highly profitable.

In the United Kingdom, Volume 1 of Queen’s Greatest Hits is the most popular album of all time, with sales of over 7 million copies.

It was also the 20th biggest seller of 2023, ahead of new releases by Ed Sheeran and the Rolling Stones.

According to its latest financial statements, Queen Productions Ltd made $52m (£42m) in the year to September 2022.

The proceeds are shared equally between guitarist Brian May, drummer Roger Taylor, bassist John Deacon, and the estate of the late singer Freddie Mercury.

Million dollar deals

Selling music catalogs has become big business over the past eight years, with record labels and private equity firms snapping up the music rights of David Bowie, Bob Dylan, Justin Bieber, Shakira, Neil Young, Blondie and Fleetwood Mac for multiple labels. Million dollar amounts.

The deals provide immediate financial security to artists and their estates, while rights holders hope to profit by building new revenue streams for music via film and television licensing, merchandise, cover releases, and performance royalties.

Music rights are seen as an attractive investment because songs continue to generate money for decades.

However, the business has seen some turmoil as rising interest rates have dented the long-term valuation of hits.

Image source, Getty Images

Comment on the photo, Shakira is one of the artists who has benefited from the sale of her song catalog

Despite this, Queen’s catalog is in high demand, simply because of the longevity of their music.

Further complicating the band’s potential deal is the fact that Disney Music Group owns Queen’s recorded music catalog in North America.

The band owns the rights to the rest of the world, and also retains worldwide copyright – the copyright to the music and lyrics.

The BBC has contacted Sony Music and Queen representatives for comment.