Home Celebrity 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 began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. He wrote the Intelligencer column for NY Magazine in the mid 90s, reporting on the OJ Simpson trial, as well as for the real Parade magazine (when it was owned by Conde Nast), and has written for the New York Observer, Details, Vogue, Spin, the New York Times, NY Post, Washington Post, and NY Daily News among many publications. He is 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.
6 replies to this post
  1. The Estate has paid off all of MJs personal debt. The loan from Bank of America is under control, while the Estates share in the catalog is secure. Sony doesnt own the rights to Mijac. Sony/ATV is a 50/50 partnership between the Estate and Sony.

  2. How can the Jackson family have a problem with the way the executors are handling the estate. it seems to me that mj’s estate is well on it’s way to being worth perhaps billions of dollars. I pray for his children and hope that the executors and courts keep the jackals away.

  3. Fans have been told the Estate has almost paid off MJ’s loans, but apparently that is not true if they still owe BOA $300 million, secured by the Sony catalog. It seems to me that the catalog is still in danger of being taken over by Sony, who now owns the rights to MiJac. Not good. This is exactly what MJ did not want.

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