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.
Sony/ATV Music Publishing, which is a joint venture between Sony Corp. and the estate of Michael Jackson, will take over worldwide administration of Michael Jackson’s Mijac Music Catalog, which has been handled by Warner/Chappell Music Publishing since its inception in 1980.
In addition to Michael Jackson’s own songs, Mijac includes the Sly and the Family Stone catalog and songs by Philadelphia soul legends Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff, as well as songs made famous by artists such as Ray Charles, Elvis Presley and Aretha Franklin.
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In a statement, Sony/ATV chairman and CEO Martin Bandier, said “Everyone at Sony/ATV looks forward to finding innovative ways to use these songs while protecting their legacy.”
The agreement comes in advance of the September 18 release of “Bad25,” a new two-disc-package and DVD that marks the 25th anniversary of Michael’s landmark “Bad” album. The Warner/Chappell agreement was fulfilled with the release of the “Michael” album in December 2010, sources say.
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“We are excited that the company Michael helped found, Sony/ATV Music Publishing, and in which his Estate remains a 50% partner, will represent these amazing songs along with a rich collection of other music recorded by some of our greatest popular artists,” John Branca and John McClain, co-executors of the Michael Jackson estate, said in a statement.
In addition to Sly and The Family Stone and Jackson’s own songs, the Mijac catalog includes “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now,” “After Midnight,” “Ease on Down the Road,” “Great Balls of Fire,” “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher,” “I Got A Woman,” “If You Don’t Know Me By Now,” “Love Train,” “Mr. Bojangles,” “People Get Ready,” “Runaround Sue,” “Shake, Rattle and Roll,” “Sixteen Candles,” “The Wanderer”, “What’d I Say,” “When a Man Loves a Woman” and “You Don’t Know Me.”