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Queen could sell their music catalogue to Sony for $1bn

Sony Music is said to be in negotiations to acquire the music catalogue of the rock band Queen for an estimated $1bn (£800m).

Queen, led by Freddie Mercury until his passing in 1991, is one of the most commercially successful bands in history.

Sony is collaborating with another investor on this deal, as reported by Bloomberg.

The deal, if finalized, would encompass merchandising rights and other business opportunities.

Discussions have reportedly been underway since last year, but there’s no guarantee of a deal being struck.

Despite not releasing new music for 27 years, the band continues to generate tens of millions annually, divided among the three remaining members – Brian May, Roger Taylor, and John Deacon, as well as Mercury’s estate.

In the year leading up to September 2022, Queen Productions Ltd reported revenues of $52m (£41m).

If the deal reaches the projected $1bn, it would be the largest of its kind, surpassing the $500m (£400m) Sony paid for Bruce Springsteen’s catalogue in 2021.

Earlier this year, Sony also purchased a 50% stake in Michael Jackson’s music catalogue for approximately $600m (£471m).

The sale of back catalogue rights has become a lucrative business recently, with artists such as Beyonce, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Shakira, and Barry Manilow all selling their music rights.

The timeless appeal of hit songs has led investors to offer high sums for the rights, enticing artists to give up their songwriting royalties for a substantial one-time payment.

This can be particularly appealing for older artists, with the added tax benefit of paying a one-time capital gains tax instead of annual income tax on royalties.

However, the process hasn’t always been smooth.

Earlier this year, music investment company Hipgnosis – which owns 138 catalogues with over 40,000 songs from artists including Blondie and Red Hot Chili Peppers – agreed to a $1.6bn (£1.3bn) takeover by private equity firm Blackstone, following a shareholder revolt over its leadership.

Queen is renowned for hits like Bohemian Rhapsody, Radio Ga Ga, We Will Rock You, Crazy Little Thing Called Love, and Another One Bites The Dust.

The band has achieved six number one singles and 10 number one albums in the UK over five decades.

In 2018, a biopic about the band, Bohemian Rhapsody, won three Oscars, including best actor for Rami Malek, who portrayed Mercury.

Queen continues to tour with singer Adam Lambert as the lead vocalist.

Disney Music Group holds the rights to Queen’s music in North America.

Queen’s representatives have declined to comment.

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