Wednesday 8 July 2009

Royalties for decades to come

Plans for Michael Jackson burial remain elusive day after funeral” reported the Guardian today, after the memorial services for the king of pop held yesterday. There is no question though that his music will keep him living on: Billboard reported that last week, Michael Jackson had a record eight albums out of the top 10 on the Top Pop Catalog Albums chart, and that this week, the entire top 10 is “all-Jackson, all the time. He alone has albums at Nos. 1-6 and Nos. 8-10 while a Jackson 5 title ("The Ultimate Collection") resides at No. 7.

Jackson was also the most popular artist on Nokia's Comes With Music service last week: seven of the top ten downloaded songs were by Jackson, with the popularity rate going up from 21st most popular the week before.

This of course has also an effect on the royalty income streams which will now benefit the (debt-laden) estate. Melbourne’s The Age reports on the king’s most valuable assets:

Jackson's most valuable asset is his 50 per cent share in the Sony-ATV Music Publishing catalogue, which people with knowledge of the partnership value at between $US1.5 billion and $US2 billion. The partnership has about $US600 million in debt, one person said. In what is recognised as the shrewdest business move of his career, the singer bought the catalogue in 1985 for $US47.5 million. In the early 2000s, he borrowed $US300 million against it. That makes the value of Jackson's share, accounting for the debt, worth between $US150 million and $US400 million.

The so-called "Beatles catalogue" is famed for music written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. It administers nearly all of the Beatles' greatest hits. Sony-ATV also oversees the publishing of performers as varied as Elvis Presley, Eminem and Bjork and is reportedly the fourth-largest music publisher in the world.

The catalogue generated between $US13 million and $US20 million for Jackson annually, said people close to the singer.

A second catalogue, Mijac Music Publishing, includes Jackson's music as a solo artist as well as songs by other acts, including Sly & The Family Stone, Curtis Mayfield and Ray Charles. People close to Jackson estimated its worth at $US100 million, but it is difficult to place a current value on it because of the tremendous sales of Jackson's music since he died.

It is reported that the superstar used to over-record for every album he produced throughout his remarkable career – so fans can live in hope that there will be many more records, books and movies coming out. Long live the king.

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