Universal Music Group (UMG) is reportedly in advanced talks to acquire the Queen catalog for more than $1 billion.
The potential sale of the song rights (as well as the astonishing price) was recently brought to light in a short CNN article citing an anonymous source with knowledge of the discussions. According to the said source, negotiations between Universal Music Group and Disney Music Group are “in full swing” and the sizeable transaction is “expected to close within a month.”
Predictably, neither Universal Music nor Disney Music (which had a far-reaching effect). act (with Queen in 1990) had publicly commented on the reported song rights sell-off at the time of writing. But the major label has made massive investments in music IP in the past, including a reported $200 million for Dr Catalog’s catalogue.
Although song rights sales (and additional investor capital) continued through the first five months of 2023 – including the aforementioned catalog deal with Dr Selten.
Meanwhile, rising interest rates and other economic factors appear to have impacted the value and interest of certain catalogues. And as always, comments from anonymous sources should be treated with caution.
On the former front, Warner Bros. Discovery reportedly abandoned plans to divest its music library in April after receiving lower-than-expected offers for the IP in question. Those in charge were expecting a cool $2 billion in profits, but ultimately the high-end offerings reportedly totaled around $1.3 billion.
At the intersection of potentially declining catalog ratings and unreliable information from supposedly well-informed anonymous sources, several purported sales have yet to be completed. Last year, for example, allegedly informed parties signaled that Pink Floyd’s catalog nearly sold for a whopping $500 million.
However, it later emerged that disagreements between the long-feuding members of the group — in addition to questions about exactly which rights would be included — had disrupted the negotiations. With the potential transaction grabbing the media spotlight for over a year now, the evidence suggests the likelihood of the deal going through is slim.
Most recently, in February, anonymous sources indicated that the Michael Jackson estate was looking to sell a 50 percent stake in the King of Pop’s catalog for more than $900 million — a total value of $1.8 billion. While a deal may yet materialize, nearly four months have passed without an update (let alone a formal announcement) of any kind.