Are Queen set for the biggest music rights deal in history, surpassing Bruce Springsteen, Sting and Bob Dylan?
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Reports from the United States have emerged overnight that iconic British rock band Queen, led by the late Freddie Mercury, may be the next band to sell their back catalogue en masse - following in the recent footsteps of artists such as Genesis, Sting and even Justin Bieber.
CNN have reported that an anonymous source believes that a deal between Universal Music Group and the current holders of Queen’s music rights, Disney Music Group, could be struck up as soon as in a month's time.
The reported figure also is astounding, with the same source CNN credit stating that a fee of $1 billion USD (£806 million GBP) is what Universal Music Group are looking to part with, in order to scoop up both the studio recordings and live albums/content that the band created both during their lifetime, and retrospective after Mercury’s death in November 1994.
That deal would also include the hallowed “Queen: Live at Wembley” recording that became a huge hit when released initially on video, then almost a decade later on DVD format, along with control of where songs will be used and using the licensing to “exploit” the potential for more Queen content to filter through select programmes and, heaven forbid, commercials.
When prompted with the news, Disney Music Group flat out denied the rumours, stating that the lucrative catalogue is not for sale, despite the anonymous source telling CNN that the deal is “underway” at present.
In 1991, Disney acquired the exclusive distribution rights to Queen's entire music catalogue in all North American territories , as a way to add value to their recently created record company, Hollywood Records, which the agreement remains to this day.
What are the most lucrative music rights sales so far?
Should the deal go through, it will eclipse the previous record held by Bruce Springsteen, who sold his back catalogue and rights to Sony Music Group for a reported $500 million USD in 2021.
- Bruce Springsteen: $500 million USD (to Sony)
- Bob Dylan: $300-400 million USD (publishing catalogue to Universal Music Publishing)
- Sting: $300 million USD (entire music catalogue to Universal Music Publishing)
- Neil Diamond: $300 million USD (estimated - complete song catalogue and master recordings to Universal)
- David Bowie: $250 million USD (entire catalogue to Warner-Chappell)
- Justin Bieber: $200 million USD (interests in publishing and recorded music catalogue to Hipgnosis)
- Genesis: $300 million USD (rights to Concord)
- Dr. Dre: $200 million USD (estimated - catalogue assets to Universal Music and Shamrock holdings)