Sony Music Group has reportedly bought half of the late Michael Jackson's recording and publishing rights for $600M after a year of negotiations. The deal, if finalized, values the iconic pop artist's music catalog at $1.2B, the richest to date.
Classic music catalogs are increasingly viewed as safe long-term assets able to withstand economic upheaval. Investors in recording rights earn royalties every time a track is bought or streamed, while publishing rights holders can license the music for use in film, TV, ads, and more. A growing number of artists have sold part or all of their catalogs in recent years to simplify their estate planning, realize tax benefits, or cash-in amid uncertainty over their legacy, from Bruce Springsteen to Katy Perry (see list).
Jackson was a pioneer in investing in music catalogs, having famously outbid Paul McCartney for the rights to the Beatles' music in 1985, a move which reportedly significantly strained their relationship.