How Real Is Queen’s ‘Billion-Dollar Catalog Deal’?


After months of purring, the news has come According to anonymous sources, just before the long Memorial Day weekend, Queen’s surviving members We’re in the process of closing a mind-blowing $1 billion deal for the legendary band’s catalog. Universal Music Group, the world’s largest music company, was said to be the likely buyer.

Three sources describe Variation The deal is in the advanced stages – although someone close to the situation says it’s too early – and the billion-dollar price tag is “real”. But it’s not entirely clear what exactly is in the package.

The two sources said that “Universal will lose” the deal, although Sony Music is said to be patiently waiting. This was due to the company’s longstanding relationship with the group, which signed with EMI in 1972 and remained with the acquired company. By Universal in 2011, throughout his career, however, he signed a deal with Hollywood Records for only US and Canadian recorded music rights in 1991, which led the company to later purchase these assets – and herein lies one of the complexities. factors.

If true, the acquisition eclipses the largest such deals on record, including Bruce Springsteen selling his broadcast and recorded music to Sony for a reported $600 million, and Bob Dylan selling his broadcast to Universal for what is said to be about $400 million. will leave. According to sources, the largest Variation In February, it appears that the Michael Jackson estate was in the process of selling half of the late singer’s music catalog to Sony and an unspecified financial partner, but that deal did not close at the time of this article.

Make sure, WhatThe music catalog is among the most valuable in the world with classics such as “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “Another One Bites the Dust”, “Radio GaGa”, “39”, “Somebody to Love” and “You’re My Best”. Friend, as well as perennial stadium-shattering hits “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions” are popular and hugely lucrative around the world.

Queen, Universal and Disney representatives declined to comment, though a source close to the situation said. Variation That Hollywood has no current or future plans to sell the rights.

But a billion dollars speaks loudly.

Obviously, whether this sum is realistic or not depends on what’s included in it. Three sources describe Variation broadcast assets of band members – Brian May, Roger Taylor, John Deacon and property Freddy MercuryAll equal shareholders at Queen Productions Ltd. are at the table, but someone else says it isn’t. This may or may not be complicated by the fact that the band’s songs were written almost entirely by individual members, until their 1982 album “Body Language” actually agreed to be cited collectively for every song, no matter who wrote it.

The real wild card though is that Hollywood owns the North American rights to the catalog, and this will likely be a separate or related transaction should the company change its mind. While the band’s catalog is certainly extremely valuable in many other parts of the world, the US is by far the world’s largest music market and Canada ranks 8th, according to IFPI’s 2022 report. Publishing rights aside, the absence of these two markets looks set to drop the catalog’s value significantly below $1 billion.

Indeed, Hollywood’s 1991 deal with the group has become one of the most forward-thinking deals in the industry. At the time, lead singer Freddie Mercury was said to have contracted AIDS, but he did not confirm the reports until the day before his death. Peter Paterno, then CEO of the new record label, was reprimanded for overpaying a reported $10 million licensing deal with the band, and resigned from his position after his contract expired in 1993, as other big hits with the company were lacking; He has already returned to his former status as one of the industry’s top lawyers.

While the details are unclear, the band at one point sold these rights to Hollywood – a series of 2011 re-releases and all streaming credits, formerly “Hollywood Records Inc.” under license from Queen Productions. instead it carries a Hollywood copyright line. Queen is one of the big recording artists with the best understanding of the business – and like many artists of this type, they signed a deal early in their careers and later regretted it financially and legally – and it seems unusual for the band to sell any of their key assets. . But during the sale, which probably took place in the 2000s, the music industry lost half of its value due to illegal downloading, and the band members may have considered this a good time to make a sale. However, listening has restored the music industry to its health, and the value of such assets has increased exponentially over the past decade, as the Dylan, Springsteen, and (possibly) Jackson deals show.

Regardless, some sources suggest that, as is often the case with such catalog deals, exact details have not been confirmed and players are leaking details to raise the price as the deal nears close. A source tells Variation that such a tactic could be played with the Queen deal – negotiations are still in the early stages and media reports are being used in an attempt to consolidate a billion-dollar price tag, aka the “following horse”.

Time will show us. Variation will learn more about this situation as it develops.

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