Queen Catalog Sale Inches Towards Reality — Sony Music Reportedly Set to Pay a Staggering $1.27 Billion

queen catalog sale
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queen catalog sale
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A live performance from Queen and Adam Lambert. Photo Credit: Raph_PH

Sony Music’s rumored Queen catalog acquisition is reportedly inching towards reality at a staggering $1.27 billion price point.

That’s according to outlets including Hits, which just recently provided an update on the long-discussed song-rights sale. Those discussions date back to at least May of 2023, when Universal Music Group itself was said to be nearing a deal for the high-value body of work.

But the reported purchase attempt didn’t pan out, and last month, different anonymous sources indicated that Sony Music Entertainment (SME) was working to acquire the IP for a whopping $1 billion. Per Hits, however, the astonishing price tag is actually £1 billion, or almost $1.3 billion at the present exchange rate.

As a pertinent aside, multiple outlets have taken the opportunity to frame the Queen catalog deal as a wrap; the much-cited initial report, on the other hand, emphasized that the reported transaction is only “expected to close in the next few weeks.” At the time of this writing, Sony Music hadn’t commented publicly on the subject.

Surprisingly, given the eye-watering valuation at hand, there are reportedly a few strings attached to the IP buyout.

First, though recording, publishing, and NIL alike are reportedly part of the deal, Disney, we previously reported, possesses the North American recording rights to Queen’s catalog thanks to a decades-old deal.

This arrangement won’t change should the investment come to fruition, but the involved royalty payments will, of course, begin making their way to SME. Similarly, Sony Music would reportedly take over for Universal Music on a rest-of-world Queen pact when it expires in 2026 or 2027.

Lastly, in terms of caveats, SME’s reported catalog buyout will exclude live-performance revenue, which will remain with surviving Queen founding members Brian May and Roger Taylor.

With those noteworthy exceptions, an argument could easily be made that the $1.3 billion price is on the high side even with Queen’s many hits. In any event, the development reflects both the ample capital in the IP sector and a continued willingness to drop substantial sums on catalogs; Sony Music reportedly bought a 50 percent interest in Michael Jackson’s song rights for $600 million earlier in 2024.

And in the bigger picture, coughing up a bit too much to own valuable assets probably won’t prove a major issue in an expanding industry with billions floating around at any given time. On the catalog side, these are literally one-of-a-kind investments, while an inflationary market and industry revenue expansions are rendering other purchase options increasingly attractive.

For instance, Sony Music’s $430 million play for AWAL, announced in early 2021 and closed in 2022 following some regulatory scrutiny across the pond, now feels like a relative bargain. So does the major label’s 2021 quarter-billion-dollar buyout of Som Livre, a sizable player in Brazil’s quick-growing music sector.