Sony Music to acquire Queen’s music catalog for $1bn

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Sony Music reportedly wants to purchase the rock band Queen's music catalog, including pieces of music like Bohemian Rhapsody, Radio Ga Ga, and Another One Bites The Dust.
Sony Music reportedly wants to purchase the rock band Queen's music catalog, including pieces of music like Bohemian Rhapsody, Radio Ga Ga, and Another One Bites The Dust.

Sony Music reportedly wants to purchase the rock band Queen’s music catalog, including pieces of music like Bohemian Rhapsody, Radio Ga Ga, and Another One Bites The Dust.

Sony Music is reportedly in negotiations to purchase the music catalogue of the iconic rock band Queen, which includes timeless hits like “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Radio Ga Ga,” and “Another One Bites The Dust.”

According to Bloomberg, Sony is collaborating with another investor on this potential transaction, which could total up to $1 billion (£790 million).

Ongoing Negotiations

The BBC has confirmed that discussions are ongoing and may not necessarily result in a sale. If the deal proceeds, it would encompass Queen’s entire song library and related intellectual property, such as logos, music videos, merchandise, publishing rights, and other business opportunities. Negotiations have been in progress since last year.

Competing Interests

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Universal Music, which has had a long-standing relationship with Queen, is also said to have shown interest. Queen initially signed with the British label EMI in 1972 and continued their association after Universal acquired EMI in 2011.

Potential Record-Breaking Deal

If Queen’s catalogue achieves the $1 billion price tag, it will set a new record for music catalogue sales, surpassing the $500 million (£393 million) that Sony paid for Bruce Springsteen’s catalogue in late 2021.

Earlier this year, Sony also acquired a 50% interest in Michael Jackson’s music from his estate for at least $600 million (£472 million).

Queen’s Enduring Popularity

Queen’s music remains immensely popular, with 52 million monthly listeners on Spotify, compared to Michael Jackson’s 41 million and Bruce Springsteen’s 20 million. This enduring appeal is bolstered by the success of the biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” and the band’s ongoing tours with singer Adam Lambert.

Classics like “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” and “We Will Rock You” continue to be globally popular and highly lucrative.

In the UK, Queen’s Greatest Hits is the most popular album of all time, having sold over 7 million copies. Remarkably, it was the 20th-biggest seller of 2023, outperforming new releases by Ed Sheeran and the Rolling Stones.

Financial Impact and Distribution

Queen Productions Ltd reported earnings of $52 million (£42 million) for the year ending September 2022. The proceeds are shared equally among guitarist Brian May, drummer Roger Taylor, bassist John Deacon, and the estate of the late singer Freddie Mercury.

The Growing Market for Music Catalogues

The sale of music catalogues has become a significant business over the past eight years.

Record labels and private equity firms have acquired rights to music by artists like David Bowie, Bob Dylan, Justin Bieber, Shakira, Neil Young, Blondie, and Fleetwood Mac for substantial sums.

These deals provide immediate financial security to the artists and their estates, while rights holders profit by leveraging the music for film and TV licensing, merchandise, cover versions, and performance royalties.

Investment Trends

Music rights are considered attractive investments as songs can generate revenue for decades. However, the market has faced challenges due to rising interest rates, which have affected the long-term valuation of hit songs.

Recently, Hipgnosis, an investment fund owning rights to music by artists from Beyoncé to Barry Manilow, agreed to a $1.6 billion takeover by the private equity firm Blackstone, following months of turmoil over the company’s governance and management structure.

Conclusion

As negotiations continue, the potential acquisition of Queen’s music catalogue by Sony Music highlights the ongoing trend of significant investments in music rights. This deal, if finalized, would underscore Queen’s enduring legacy and the lucrative nature of music catalogues in today’s market.

Gary Monroe

Gary Monroe is a seasoned contributor to the Los Angeles Business Magazine, where he offers insightful analysis on local business trends and economic developments. With a focus on Los Angeles' dynamic commercial landscape, Gary's articles provide valuable perspectives for entrepreneurs and business professionals in the city.

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