Queen sells its hits for a record sum: the juicy business of music rights

Queen sells its hits for a record sum: the juicy business of music rights
Queen sells its hits for a record sum: the juicy business of music rights

The British group has agreed to sell its music rights to Sony for $1.2 billion.

It’s the latest avatar of a new business that allows stars to make a fortune during their lifetime.

Even younger artists like Katy Perry and Justin Bieber have given in to its sirens.

Thirty-three years after the death of Freddie Mercury, the music of Queen is still very much alive. We could see this with the global success in 2018 of Bohemian Rhapsody, which revived the musical biopic fashion in Hollywood. And timeless hits that we hear everywhere on the radio, in commercials and on talk shows – “We are the Champions”, “Radio Gaga”, “We will rock you”, “Somebody To Love” – ​​that Sony Music has about to acquire for a record sum.

Variety has just revealed that the major has agreed to pay 1.2 billion dollars to obtain the rights to the songs of the famous British group. This is a sum equivalent to the rights to Michael Jackson’s catalog, revalued last February and of which Sony paid half. But it’s more than all the deals of this type in recent years.

The group retains the rights to its concerts

For comparison, Bruce Springsteen sold his rights for $500 million, Kiss, Bob Dylan and Genesis for $300 million, Sting for $250 million. As streaming has permanently destabilized physical record sales, these stars have chosen this solution to pocket the jackpot during their lifetime and ensure their retirement. Especially since some no longer wish or are able to tour, like Phil Collins, who is seriously ill.

This is not the case for Queen since the deal with Sony Music does not include the concert rights that the group regularly continues to give. After the death of Freddie Mercury, bassist John Deacon ended his musical career. But guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor continue to perform on stage with singer Adam Lambert, a former “American Idol” talent show candidate.

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The business of music rights does not only interest the glorious old-timers. A younger group like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and singers like Katy Perry and Justin Bieber have also given in to its sirens in recent months. According to recording industry experts, it’s a way to pocket a big check in one go, rather than seeing their royalties decline over the years. Especially since they retain the rights to their new songs. Clever.


Jérôme VERMELIN

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