How Michael Jackson's 'smartest investment in music history' is now worth J$91 billion from Sony

How Michael Jackson's 'smartest investment in music history' is now worth J$91 billion from Sony

A lot is being said about the whopping US$750 million Sony said on Tuesday it will pay Michael Jackson’s estate for the late King of Pop’s share of a music venture that owns the rights to songs by some of the biggest names in music history including those written by the Beatles, Marvin Gaye and Bob Dylan.

Michael Jackson, from his days as part of The Jackson 5, smiles in this undated handout photo.

Michael Jackson, from his days as part of The Jackson 5

When riddim-donmagazine.com asked Google converter to give us the figures in Jamaican dollars, here is what it spit out – a mind-boggling J$91,248,750,000.00, or in words – Ninety-one billion, 248 million, 750 thousand dollars in Jamaican currency. WOW! It really doesn’t matter whether or not the Jamaican dollar is devalued – 91 billion in ANY currency is a whole heap of money. No wonder Michael Jackson’s lawyers are hailing the late pop King’s move as “the smartest investment in music history”.

According to reports, it was in the year 1985 that Michael Jackson bought ATV Music Publishing for US$47.5 million — or what business analysts say would amount to about $105 million at the 2016 value. The publishing company was owned by South African-born Australian tycoon Robert Holmes a Court.

King of Pop, Michael Jackson

King of Pop, Michael Jackson

Six years later, the pop icon, sold half of the stake in ATV, which owns several million titles, to Sony for a reported US$100 million. Sony ATV Music Publishing was formed jointly in 1995 by the Japanese electronics giant and Michael Jackson, who is noted for being the singer who “transformed music with iconic hits including Thriller and Beat it”.

Under the terms of the deal, Sony will take control of Michhael Jackson’s 50 percent stake in Sony ATV Music Publishing, thus effectively taking over 100 percent of the shares. This is said to nclude the rights to Beatles songs and publishing for more than two million songs. Among the big names acts whose songs are listed in the catalogue are Taylor Swift, Kanye West, Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, and several others. The dollar value is estimated to be in the billions.

Reports are that a definitive agreement is expected by March 31, with the deal expected to be closed by late 2016 or early 2017. A statement from Sony, which opted to exercise its option to buy out the estate’s stake, said that the company will make a lump sum payment of $733m for Jackson’s 50% ownership in Sony/ATV Music Publishing, as well as pay future distribution revenue. It is not known if the company will change its name.

On the downside for Sony, however, is the fact that there is one vital thing they will not have access to from this deal — Michael Jackson’s own master recordings. According to reports the Jackson estate maintains Mijac Music which owns all music written by Michael Jackson himself. Therefore, Jackson’s heirs still own the rights to his own songs and recordings, as well as part of the record company EMI Music.

Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton released a statement saying that the acquisition will enable their company to adapt to changes in the music publishing business while continuing to be an “unparalleled leader” in the industry.

Jackson died in 2009 at the age of 50.


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