Queen are about to sell their catalog for a billion dollars

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There have been many months of rumors, but the news is there, ready to explode: Queen can sell their catalog for a staggering billion dollars. And Universal Music Group, the world’s largest music company, would be the potential buyer.

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According to the site Variety, which has obtained three different sources, the agreement with the surviving members of Queen is at an advanced stage – although one of them assures that it is “very preliminary” -. Yes, everyone agrees that the billion dollar price tag is “real.” But it’s not clear what’s included in the box.

If true, the acquisition would surpass the largest deals of its kind ever, including Bruce Springsteen selling his releases and recorded music to Sony for $600 million and Bob Dylan selling his catalog to Universal for nearly 400 million dollars.

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Brian May and Freddie Mercury of Queen performing at Wembley Stadium in 1986.

Brian May and Freddie Mercury of Queen performing at Wembley Stadium in 1986.

A coveted catalogue

Without a doubt, Queen’s music catalog is among the most valuable in the world, with classics such as Bohemian Rhapsody, another bites the dust, GaGa Radio, we will Rock You AND We are the Champions, popular songs all over the world and extremely profitable.

Of course, whether or not the $1 billion is realistic depends on what’s in it. Variety’s sources said the band members’ editorial assets (Brian May, Roger Taylor, John Deacon and the Freddie Mercury estateall equal shareholders of Queen Productions Ltd.) are on the table.

That situation may or may not be complicated by the fact that the group’s songs were almost entirely written by the individual members up to the album Warm spacesince 1982, when they agreed to be collectively credited on each song regardless of who actually wrote it.

The real wild card, however, is Hollywood’s ownership of the North American rights to the catalog, which would presumably be a separate or related transaction if the company changes its mind about the sale.

Brian May, Freddie Mercury, Roger Taylor and John Deacon, the members of Queen.

Brian May, Freddie Mercury, Roger Taylor and John Deacon, the members of Queen.

While the group’s catalog is certainly of enormous value in most other parts of the world, the US is by far the world’s largest music market and Canada is not far behind, coming in at number 8. The absence of these two markets, not to mention publishing rights, would appear to drop the catalog value substantially below the $1 billion mark.

The previous deal

Indeed, Hollywood’s deal with the group in 1991 proved to be one of the most forward-thinking in the industry. At the time, singer Freddie Mercury was widely rumored to have AIDS, although he didn’t confirm the reports until the day before his death the following year.

Peter Paterno, the label’s then-CEO, came under fire for overpaying a $10 million licensing deal with the group and, in the absence of any other major hits at the label, resigned after the term expired. his contract in 1993. ; he has long since returned to his former status as one of the best lawyers in the business.

While the details are unclear, the group sold those rights to Hollywood at some point: a 2011 reissue series and all streaming credits have a Hollywood copyright line, instead of the earlier “Queen Productions under license from Hollywood Records Inc.”

Queen are one of the industry’s most savvy major recording artists, and like many of those artists, they were signed to a contract early in their career which they later regretted financially and legally, and it seems unusual for the group to sell any of the their considerable estate.

Queen in Argentina.  In 1981, they unleashed a phenomenon.  Photo Néstor Nebón/Télam Archive

Queen in Argentina. In 1981, they unleashed a phenomenon. Photo Néstor Nebón/Télam Archive

But by the time of the sale, likely in the 2000s, the music industry had lost half its value to illegal downloading, and band members may have felt it was a good time to sell. .

However, they probably wish they’d waited: streaming has put the music industry back on track. And, as is often the case with these types of catalog deals, the exact details are unconfirmed and players may be leaking information to raise the price when a deal closes.

Time will tell.

Source: Clarin

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