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

Sony Music is reportedly in talks to buy Queen’s music catalogue for nearly $1bn (£800m).

The rock band, fronted by Freddie Mercury until his death in 1991, were one of the most commercially successful groups in history.

Sony is working with another investor on the transaction, according to Bloomberg.

If the deal went ahead, it would include the rights to merchandising and other business opportunities.

Talks are reported to have been ongoing since last year, and may not result in a deal.

Queen have released a lost song, Face It Alone, featuring their late band member Freddie Mercury for the first time in more than eight years
Image:Queen bandmembers (L-R): Roger Taylor, John Deacon, Brian May and Freddie Mercury. Pic: PA

Despite not releasing a new song for 27 years, the band still make tens of millions every year, shared between the three remaining members – Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon, and Mercury‘s estate.

Company filings for Queen Productions Ltd recorded revenues of $52m (£41m) in the year up to September 2022.

Should it achieve the estimated $1bn, it would be the biggest deal of its kind, doubling the $500m (£400m) paid by Sony for Bruce Springsteen’s catalogue in 2021.

Earlier this year Sony also acquired a 50% interest in Michael Jackson’s music catalogue for around $600m (£471m).

More: Why are so many stars selling their music rights?

Freddie Mercury on stage during Queen's Live Aid set
Image:Freddie Mercury on stage during Queen’s Live Aid set. Pic: PA

Selling the rights to back catalogues has become big business in recent years, with stars including Beyonce, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Shakira and Barry Manilow all selling off their music rights.

The evergreen nature of hit songs means that investors have been ready to offer high sums for the rights, tempting artists to relinquish their songwriting royalties in exchange for a big one-off payday.

Older artists can find it a particularly attractive prospect, with the added tax incentive of paying a one-off capital gains tax in place of annual income tax on royalties.

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However, it’s not all been plain sailing.

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

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

The band notched up six number one singles and 10 number one albums in the UK across five decades.

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

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Queen still tours with singer Adam Lambert fronting the group.

Disney Music Group owns Queen’s rights in North America.

Representatives for Queen declined to comment.

Sony Music Group have been approached for comment by Sky News.

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