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Queen Is Reportedly Close To Selling Its Catalog For $1.2 Billion

The surviving members of the rock band Queen are close to signing an astonishing deal for their publishing catalog and at least some of their master recordings. The reported price tag? $1.2 billion. If and when they sign such a deal, it will tie the $1.2 billion valuation that Michael Jackson’s catalog earned last week.

The precise terms of the sale are still under wraps, but anonymous sources with knowledge of it say that it includes royalties from the smash 2018 biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and could also include royalties from their North American master recordings as well. Those masters were sold by the band to Disney’s Hollywood Records at some point since Hollywood Records began releasing Queen material in the 90s. And outside of North America, Queen still owns their own master recordings outright.

The managers of the late Freddie Mercury’s estate as well as Brian May, Roger Taylor, and John Deacon all have their own representation in the talks, which are said to be with “select suitors” due to the band members’ interest in selling only to a company that will do the catalog justice in the future in addition to just cutting a massive check. That’s a big job, since the Queen catalog includes so many perennially popular hits like “We Are the Champions,” “We Will Rock You,” “Another One Bites the Dust,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and more, with tens of millions in album sales and billions of online streams. And the release of the “Bohemian Rhapsody” film several years ago made their music even more popular and expanded their audience to younger generations, which is part of the reason they’re possibly able to wrangle such a massive price for the catalog even as the market for such giant deals has slumped somewhat since their peak in 2021.

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Music business attorney Guy Blake told the Daily Mail that Queen is in a unique position to get top dollar for their catalog thanks to their popularity among younger listeners:

“Queen has found a much younger audience. And that’s unique to a legacy catalog. I don’t know that there’s a whole lot of rock bands out there that could say that they had the popularity with people under 30 that Queen has right now. There’s just some uniqueness to so many of their songs that they just keep coming back, generation after generation.”

2021 is also when Bruce Springsteen closed a deal for his own rights for $550 million, a record valuation at the time. Since then, it’s been more than doubled by the reported valuation of Michael Jackson’s catalog at $1.2 billion, although that was in a sale for only a half-stake in those rights. If this Queen deal goes through, it will be a record in terms of final sale price and will tie Jackson’s catalog (which also included work from several assorted artists acquired by Jackson’s own publishing business) in valuation.

They’ll be joining other artists like Bob Dylan, who closed two separate deals totaling $450 million for his catalog, and Neil Young, who sold a 50 percent stake that valued his catalog at approximately $300 million. Even younger artists like Justin Bieber got in on the action, as Bieber sold his catalog to Hipgnosis Songs Fund for a reported $200 million in January of last year.

Who’s going to buy the Queen catalog? That isn’t known for sure, and it could be Universal Music Group, which was previously reported to be in talks with the band last year. It’s also possible that UMG or whoever the eventual buyer will prove to be has joined up with other investors to close the deal, thanks to its enormous price.

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