It appears that the sale process for Queen‘s legendary catalog, including both music publishing and recorded music rights, has kicked off! Heavyweights like Universal Music Group and private equity firms are already jumping in for discussions, fueling hopes that we might see a deal conclusion by summer’s end.
Some hint that if Queen’s combined rights hit the market, a jaw-dropping price tag surpassing $1 billion is practically in the bag. Some even mention figures like $1.1 billion—or even more.
If this blockbuster sale goes through, it would set a phenomenal record as the largest single-artist music catalog transaction ever, dethroning Sony Music Group’s $500 million+ acquisition of Bruce Springsteen’s recorded music and music publishing catalogs in 2021.
But let’s not get too carried away just yet—the Queen catalog sale isn’t without its fair share of intricacies. For instance, Disney Music Group already owns their recorded music catalog in North America, while Universal Music Group holds a global distribution agreement. And for those curious about international rights, Queen Productions Ltd—equally owned by Brian May, Roger Taylor, John Deacon, and Freddie Mercury’s estate—boasts ownership outside of the US and Canada.
Moreover, global rights to Queen’s music publishing catalog rest with Queen Productions Ltd and are administered by Sony Music Publishing—a venture shared by all band members and Mercury’s estate.
Financial records shows that Queen Productions Ltd saw revenues of £39.19 million in FY 2021—mostly from royalties—and experienced an all-time high of £72.77 million in FY 2019 thanks to the Bohemian Rhapsody biopic. Between 2019 and 2021, average annual royalties revenue reached a cool £50.71 million.
Queen also stands tall as Spotify’s 48th most popular global artist, boasting a staggering 47.7 million monthly listeners on the platform.
Queen’s not the only monumental music catalog raising eyebrows lately. Reports suggest that the Michael Jackson Estate is negotiating with Sony Music Group to sell a stake in the late King of Pop’s rights portfolio—encompassing recorded music rights, MJ: The Musical theater show rights, and music publishing rights through his company Mijac. Talks point to a potential sale of 50% of Jackson’s music rights to Sony Music Group for a rumored price tag between $700 million and $900 million.
As the industry revels in these high-profile deals, Queen’s potential catalog sale underscores the everlasting appeal and phenomenal commercial success of legendary artists.