Two years ago, MBW published a popular story with a catchy title: “Queen’s music makes crazy money. Could it be worth over a billion dollars?
The answer to the question, which we are now hearing from several high-level music industry sources, is a resounding yes.
We’re told the early stages of a process to sell the band’s catalog – combining both music publishing and recorded music rights – are underway, and a full acquisition could be finalized by end of this summer.
Major music companies, including Universal Music Group, are in discussions regarding a possible acquisition, we are told, in addition to players in the private equity world.
If Queen’s combined rights sell, according to MBW’s sources, for a price above 1 billion US dollars seems guaranteed.
Some have told us that they expect the Queen catalog to sell for around US$1.1 billion; others say the final figure will be even higher than that.
Either way, if a sale were made, it would become the biggest single-artist music catalog sale in history, easily topping the $500 million-plus paid by Sony Music Group to acquire the Bruce Springsteen recorded music and music publishing catalogs end of 2021.
(For the Springsteen publishing catalog that was part of this deal, Sony’s offer was partly backed by capital from Eldridge Industries.)
A Queen catalog sale is complicated by the fact that Disney Music Group (DMG) owns the band’s catalog of recorded music in North America. (DMG has a worldwide distribution agreement with Universal Music Group.)
Queen band members Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon – plus the estate of Freddie Mercury – each own equal shares in the company Queen Productions Ltd.which owns the band’s catalog of recordings outside of the United States and Canada.
Members of Queen’s (along with Mercury’s estate) also own worldwide rights to Queen’s music publishing catalog through their company Queen Music Ltdwhich is administered by Sony Music Publishing.
Queen Productions Ltd publishes its annual financial statements on UK Companies House, the latest of which shows the company’s tax performance in the 2021 financial year (to the end of September this year).
Queen Productions Ltd reported £39.19 million annual turnover in 2021, with £38.92 million of that number from royalties.
Queen Productions Ltd. posted record annual revenues of £72.77 million in 2019, the year of the successful global release of the Bohemian Rhapsody biopic.
Over the three years from 2019 to 2021, the average annual royalty revenue recorded by Queen Productions Ltd was £50.71 million.
Queen is currently the 48th most popular artist in the world on Spotify, with 47.7 million monthly listeners on the platform.
Queen’s isn’t the only big-budget music rights catalog that’s in talks to be sold (or partially sold) in the coming months.
The Michael Jackson Estate is reportedly in talks with Sony Music Group over the sale of a stake in the late King Of Pop rights portfolio – covering recorded music rights, MJ: The Musical theater performance, as well as music publishing rights through the music publishing company founded by Jackson, Mijac.
Variety reported in February that Sony Music Group was in negotiations to acquire 50% of the musical rights of Jackson for a price of the order of 800 to 900 million dollars.
A source familiar with the process suggested the number could be slightly lower than that figure, between $700 million and $800 million.The music industry around the world