Sunday, April 21, 2024

Michael Jackson Estate Deals Blow to Warner Music, Brings Publishing to Sony


The Michael Jackson music catalog, known as MiJac, has been moved to Sony-ATV from Warner Chappell. In layman’s terms: this is a blow to Warner Music and a major win for Sony. Even though MiJac was heavily leveraged for years, I’m told the loan from HSBC is down to around $4 million. The Michael Jackson estate still owes just under $300 million to Bank of America on separate loans Michael took against his ownership in Sony-ATV Music Publishing.

What’s happened now is that Jackson’s long contract with Warner Chappell, the publishing division of Warner Music Group, expired last December. Sony-ATV, in which he has a 50% ownership interest, had the right to match or better any offer when MiJac’s deal with WMG was done. The deal was actually completed a couple of months ago, I’m told. But with all the brouhaha concerning Katherine Jackson and the Jackson siblings demand to oust Michael’s executors, an announcement was put off.

Now all of Michael Jackson’s music publishing will be in one place: Sony-ATV. MiJac holds all of his songs like “Billie Jean” and “Beat It” plus hundreds of other publishing copyrights including everything by Sly Stone. It’s a plum win for Sony and a devastating loss for Warner Music. Warner Chappell was the only part of that company still doing well. To lose MiJac, especially since Jackson’s death and the renewed interest in his music, is a heavy setback. It’s unclear whether that was explained to Len Blavatnik and his Access Industries group when they bought WMG from Edgar Bronfman Jr last year.

Meantime: it’s been underlined that now neither MiJac nor Sony-ATV or the Beatles catalog, is for sale. The Jackson estate has done an excellent job of paying down the various loans and renegotiating the interest rates in more favorable terms.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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