Music Industry

We may be on the verge of the biggest music catalogue sale EVER!

With about a dozen companies spending billions of dollars buying up the catalogues of artists (here’s my running list), it’s become a sport to predict which artist will be the next to sell.

For the longest time, eyes were on Pink Floyd with a guess that the price would be somewhere north of US$500 million. Who could be worth more? The Beatles, obviously, but after what Paul (and to a lesser extent, Ringo) went through losing the rights to Beatles songs for years, that’ll never happen. The Rolling Stones? Maybe one day but not now. They do a pretty good job of keeping their catalogue alive.

Okay, so who else? What about Michael Jackson?

There’s a rumour saying that a sale of Jacko’s catalogue is close with a price somewhere between–wait for it–US$800-900 million.

Who’s got that kind of dosh? Sony, for one. Jackson’s record company would love to own all his songs. But at close to a billion dollars, it’s doubtful that Sony will be able to finance the whole deal itself. They’ll need a partner or two–maybe Eldridge Industries, the company that helped them buy the Springsteen catalogue for perhaps as much as US$600 million . Meanwhile, Primary Wave already owns a part of the publishing catalogue. Will they want to sell their piece?

We could hear something very soon.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38150 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

4 thoughts on “We may be on the verge of the biggest music catalogue sale EVER!

  • I have a stupid question… I was under the impression that when these investors started buying these catalogs they could do whatever they wanted with the music… license to movies, TV Shows, commercials. Other than Prince turning up in a Capital One commercial, I haven’t seen really an influx of this. Is that the plan? Or are they just making money on sales? Which, doesn’t seem feasible.

    Do they own the physical tapes? Or just the publishing?

    • In some cases, yes, they own the master recordings (which includes any physical tape). They’re making money on many different things: sales, streams, licensing to TV and movies, video games, cover versions by other artists, samples–anything where this music is used.

  • I just read that this price tag is for only HALF of MJs catalogue which makes this even more mind blowing.

  • This price tag is only for HALF the catalogue. MJ may be controversial but with numbers like that you can’t deny, he’s in a very rare league. Who else could pull numbers like that?


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