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Sony pays Michael Jackson estate $750M for songs from The Beatles, Dylan, and others

Sony has purchased a 50 percent stake in Sony/ATV music from the late Michael Jackson’s estate for $750 million, securing complete rights to songs from some of the biggest catalogs in music.

The agreement will give the Japanese tech giant sole ownership of important works by The Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Taylor Swift, among many others. That means that whenever one of the works is played on radio, TV, or film — as well as other forms of publishing such as streaming — Sony reaps the royalties. Jackson’s own recordings were not included in the deal.

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The world famous pop singer was in hundreds of millions of dollars in debt before he passed away, but his estate has been able to erase that in recent years, with a combination of re-releases, and new music and film ventures. This blockbuster deal will help put the estate further into the black. The estate benefits Jackson’s mother and three children.

Jackson’s investment in music publishing has proved to be an incredibly wise one. The famed pop singer purchased his portion of ATV, which later merged with Sony, in 1985 for $41.5 million, reportedly on the advice of none other than his then friend Sir Paul McCartney. Jackson famously outbid McCartney for his own music when he purchased the Beatles catalog.

“This transaction further allows us to continue our efforts of maximizing the value of Michael’s Estate for the benefit of his children,” said the co-executors of Jackson’s estate in a statement. “It also further validates Michael’s foresight and genius in investing in music publishing.”

Sony has long been rumored to be in talks with Jackson’s estate to purchase the second half of ATV, and this deal has likely been in the works behind closed doors for some time.

“This agreement further demonstrates Sony’s commitment to the entertainment businesses and our firm belief that these businesses will continue to contribute to our success for years to come,” said Sony Corp. president and CEO Kazuo Hirai.

The deal is not yet formally closed, but it is expected to be signed by the end of March.