Skip to main content

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

michael jackson last days series thriller
Image used with permission by copyright holder
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.

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.

Parker Hall
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Parker Hall is a writer and musician from Portland, OR. He is a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Oberlin…
What is spatial audio? Apple’s 3D sound feature fully explained
Person listening to spatial audio using Apple AirPods Max headphones.

At WWDC 2021 (Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference), Apple officially added support for spatial audio with Dolby Atmos Music for Apple Music. It quickly became a popular format among consumers, too: Apple estimates that by February 2022, playback of spatial audio tracks had quadrupled from just a few months prior as people experimented with the format. But what exactly is spatial audio? How is it different from (or the same as) Dolby Atmos? And what kind of audio equipment do you need to listen to it?

There's a lot of ground to cover, and some of it is a bit technical, but we're going to break it all down in easy-to-understand terms. You'll be a spatial audio expert in minutes, and you'll know exactly how to access this growing trend in movie and music streaming.
What exactly is spatial audio?

Read more
The best podcasts of 2022
best podcasts

Whether you've already stored all your favorite podcasts in your app of choice, ready for listening, or are new to the world of podcasts, there's no denying their popularity. Podcasts are everywhere these days and have become some of the most beloved entertainment and education mediums worldwide. Whatever you're into, from tech and video game chat to world news and politics or true crime, there are plenty of specialized interest shows to choose from.

With so many podcasts available, there’s no way that you can listen to all of them. To help you out, no matter your interests, we've gathered a variety of shows to turn you on to your next great listen.

Read more
How to convert your vinyl to a digital format
Rebirth of cool: Is vinyl ready for a second wind, or just a fad?

It doesn't matter one bit if your vinyl collection consists of just a single milk crate or if it fills several Ikea Kallax shelves and is slowly taking over your home — we can all agree that there's just something about vinyl.

Maybe it's the warm, uncompressed sound spinning off a solid turntable, or the feel of holding a physical piece of art in your hands while the record spins — it's a special experience that has regained much of its glory in a world dominated by digital streaming. The problem is, records are fragile, and crates full of them don't fit in your back pocket.

Read more