The Sony Corporation is paying $750m (£525m) to Michael Jackson's estate to buy out the late pop star's portion of their joint music venture along with its top prize: a catalog of copyrights to 4 million songs including most of the Beatles' compositions, and works from Sting, Alicia Keys, Taylor Swift and the Rolling Stones. Sony, which opted to exercise its option to buy out the estate's stake, will make a lump sum payment of $733m (£513m) for Jackson's 50% ownership in Sony/ATV Music Publishing, as well as pay future distribution revenue, said a Sony statement.
Jackson purchased ATV, home to most of the Beatles' copyrights, in 1985 for $47.5m (£33m) — despite objections from advisers who thought he was paying way too much. He sold a 50% stake to Sony for as much as $115m (£81m) in 1995.
It was a business deal that keeps on giving. Jackson has earned more money than any singer alive or dead in the first five years following his death in 2009 at the age of 50, with his estate already raking in $1b in 2015, Forbes reports, thanks to runaway Jackson album sales and other business revenue.
The current deal cements Sony's copyright control over an incredible song selection at a time when music revenues are shifting to subscription access offered by companies like Apple Inc. and Spotify Ltd., reports Bloomberg. Sony expects subscribers will account for 60% of music revenue in 2017 and will help boost music industry revenue to up to $5.2b (£3.6b).
"When Sony first partnered with Michael Jackson 21 years ago to create Sony/ATV Music Publishing, we knew that this company had the ability to reach great heights," Michael Lynton, CEO of Sony Entertainment, said in a statement. "This acquisition will enable Sony to more quickly adapt to changes in the music publishing business."
The company was considering selling its stake in the joint venture as recently as late 2015, according to emails hacked from the company's computers. Jackson's estate will continue to control valuable music assets, including the pop star's master recordings and the late singer's publishing company Mijac Music, which owns all of the songs he wrote. The estate will also retain its interest in EMI Music Publishing.
America's strange, wildly talented king of pop died of cardiac arrest after ingesting the anesthesia drug Propofol, as he often did to help him sleep.