News

Queen close to record $1.2 BILLION sale of music catalog – defying slump in song valuations since megastars like Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan cashed in on collections during Covid


British rock legends Queen are nearing a record-shattering $1.2 billion sale of their entire music catalog – defying a slump in song valuations since a string of megadeals during the pandemic.

The surviving band members and Freddie Mercury‘s estate are in advanced talks to sell their recordings, publishing rights and royalty streams for more than double the current record set by Bruce Springsteen, who sold the rights to his music for $550 million in 2021.

Springsteen’s deal was inked before a string of other artists including Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Justin Bieber, also bagged hundreds of millions of dollars for their own collections. But the market has cooled since and some major investors have devalued their song collections by as much as 14 percent.

Queen’s blockbuster deal would defy the slump and demonstrate how the world’s greatest artists can continue to demand eye-watering sums for their collections, industry experts say.

Queen earned a reputation as one of the greatest rock bands of all time through hits including We Will Rock You and Bohemian Rhapsody. The surviving members and the Freddie Mercury estate are now close to inking a $1.2 billion sale of their entire catalog

Queen earned a reputation as one of the greatest rock bands of all time through hits including We Will Rock You and Bohemian Rhapsody. The surviving members and the Freddie Mercury estate are now close to inking a $1.2 billion sale of their entire catalog

The Queen deal would double the record set by Bruce Springsteen, whose catalog fetched $550 million when it was sold amid a string of blockbuster deals during covid

The Queen deal would double the record set by Bruce Springsteen, whose catalog fetched $550 million when it was sold amid a string of blockbuster deals during covid

The band’s music consists of the ‘master’ copyright, which is the rights to the recordings, and the ‘publishing’ copyright, which is the written music and lyrics.

Disney Music Group owns the North America rights to Queen’s music. But the band retains ownership of the global rights through the UK-based Queen Productions Ltd, which earned £39 million ($48 million) in royalties in 2021.

Investors view music catalogs much like owning shares in companies which pay dividends. The $1.2 billion valuation for Queen’s catalog is based on the annual returns an investor can expect throughout the next several decades.

Guy Blake, a leading music industry attorney who has worked on catalog acquisitions, told DailyMail.com that the Queen deal would be ‘seismic’ and a ‘one of one’ sale if it matches the rumored valuation for the band’s entire portfolio.

‘In general, I don’t see a problem with this [$1.2 billion] number being accurate, I think there’s probably some degree of truth to it,’ said Blake, a managing partner at Granderson Des Rochers.

‘There aren’t a whole lot of catalogs out there like Queen,’ he said.

Blake said Queen would be striking while the market is ‘at its height’, adding: ‘I think you’ve seen the market build to a crescendo and now its starting to drop slightly.’

Universal Music Group was the rumored frontrunner in the deal when details of talks first surfaced last summer. Sources told Billboard that negotiations may have now reached an ‘exclusive period with an undisclosed suitor’.

The buyer of Queen’s catalog will likely purchase the masters, publishing copyright and also ‘ancillary’ income streams which include revenue from other sources.

In Queen’s case that includes revenue from merchandise, cash generated by the 2018 biographic movie Bohemian Rhapsody and any other future projects and licensing deals.

Queen earned a legion of new fans following the 2019 movie Bohemian Rhapsody, a biographic film about the band. That means they're one of a few 'legacy' artists who now count an army of youngers followers - and enjoy massive streaming figures as a result

Queen earned a legion of new fans following the 2019 movie Bohemian Rhapsody, a biographic film about the band. That means they’re one of a few ‘legacy’ artists who now count an army of youngers followers – and enjoy massive streaming figures as a result

The catalog sale follows other megadeals by the likes of Bob Dylan, who sold the rights to his music across two separate deals worth an estimated $450 million in total

The catalog sale follows other megadeals by the likes of Bob Dylan, who sold the rights to his music across two separate deals worth an estimated $450 million in total

In the streaming age, catalog valuations also rely heavily on a metric called ‘album consumption units’, which combine streams and downloads to estimate what the equivalent number of album sales would be. One album sale is equivalent to about 1,500 song streams, according to industry standards.

Queen’s album consumption units in the US were 25.9 million between 1991 and 2017 then surged to 3.58 million in 2019 following the release of the Bohemian Rhapsody movie, according to Luminate figures reported by Billboard.

The popularity of the movie and continued airplay of Queen’s hits decades after they were released has helped the band earn a legion of young fans – something that’s also boosted the value of their catalog.

‘Queen has found a much younger audience. And that’s unique to a legacy catalog, Blake said.

‘I don’t know that there’s a whole lot of rock bands out there that could say that they had the popularity with people under 30 that Queen has right now. There’s just some uniqueness to so many of their songs that they just keep coming back, generation after generation.’

After Springsteen’s $550 million sale, Bob Dylan is estimated to have earned the second highest amount for a music catalog after receiving about $450 million across two separate deals.

Dylan sold his songwriting rights to Universal Music in 2020 for $300 million, then sold the rights to his recordings to Sony Music Entertainment a year later for $150 million.

Those sales came amid of a series of bumper paydays for artists who cashed in on their catalogs during covid. 

Bieber’s catalog was sold to Hipgnosis Songs Fund in January 2023 for $200 million. Hipgnosis previously bought a 50 percent stake in Neil Young’s catalog in January 2021 under a deal which valued the total collection at around $300 million.

Justin Bieber's catalog was sold to Hipgnosis Songs Fund in January 2023 for $200 million

Justin Bieber’s catalog was sold to Hipgnosis Songs Fund in January 2023 for $200 million

Hipgnosis bought a 50 percent stake in Neil Young's catalog in January 2021 under a deal which valued the total collection at around $300 million

Hipgnosis bought a 50 percent stake in Neil Young’s catalog in January 2021 under a deal which valued the total collection at around $300 million

The company, which owns 65,413 songs and 146 catalogs, also has the rights to music by artists including the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Mark Ronson and Blondie.

But Hipgnosis has faced a decline in the value of its music assets across the last year. In December, it said its assets declined by 9.2 percent between March and September 2023.

In December the company – which was founded by former Beyonce and Elton John manager Merck Mercuriadis and Chic guitarist Nile Rodgers – also sold 20,000 songs for a 14 percent discount on what they were valued at just months earlier.

Overall publishing valuations have fallen by about 14 percent since their peak in 2019, according to a report by Shot Tower Capital, an investment firm which specialized in the media industry.

Blake said that the sky-high prices during the pandemic were largely caused by low inflation rates, which led investors to pump cash into assets which can generate reliable income. In the case of music catalogs, that means annual revenues from royalties.

But despite the recent cooling as interest rates have risen across the past year, bands like Queen will always be able to land enormous payouts for their legendary catalogs.

Blake summed it up: ‘If you tell any private equity company “hey, we think we have a chance to buy Queen”, they’ll find the money.’



Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button