Michael Jackson’s genius-level foresight is paying off big time. For his three children, at least.
Thirty years ago, the indisputable King of Pop paid a staggering $48 million to acquire ATV Music Publishing, home to a portion of the Beatles catalog and, at the time, 4,000 other songs. A decade later, Jackson’s ATV merged with Sony, creating Sony/ATV Music Publishing, which earned Jackson a cool $90 million. Then, in 2012, Sony/ATV acquired EMI Music Publishing and became the largest music publishing company in the world, boasting a monstrous catalog of more than 2 million songs from a wide selection of artists.
Fast forward to today and Sony is reportedly buying Jackson’s 50 percent stake in the publishing company for a mind-numbing $750 million. Per a statement, the music giant will make a lump sum payment of $733 million for Jackson’s half, but will not include any of the irreplaceable icon’s master recordings.
The Estate noted that the transaction will not affect its continuing substantial interests in other music assets, including all of Michael Jackson’s master recordings as well as Mijac Music, the publishing company that owns all of the songs written by Michael Jackson as well as songs by some of his favorite songwriters and artists that were acquired by Michael during his life. In addition, the Estate will also retain its ownership interest in EMI Music Publishing.
No one’s probably more happy about this than Paul McCartney, who famously refused to make a bid when ATV was up for sale, leaving Jackson to purchase The Beatles’ publishing rights. According to leaked Sony emails, the company’s executives “considered selling the songs back to McCartney.” Years ago, the 73-year-old musician admitted it was painful to have to pay to play his own songs, saying, “The annoying thing is I have to pay to play some of my own songs. Each time I want to sing ‘Hey Jude’ I have to pay.
If Sony doesn’t sell the songs back to McCartney, he’ll only have to wait until 2018, when U.S. Copyright Act of 1976 goes into effect. Per Reuters:
The U.S. Copyright Act of 1976 gave songwriters the ability to recapture the publishing share of the copyright on pre-1978 works after two consecutive 28-year terms or 56 years. That means Beatles compositions registered in 1962 will be eligible for reversion in the United States in 2018, while songs written in 1970 will be eligible in 2026.