Who Will Release Jackson's New Songs?
July 17, 2009 at 7:00 AM (PT)
MICHAEL JACKSON may have one more thriller for the music industry, writes BUSINESSWEEK.COM. "Administrators for the late entertainer's estate appear to be preparing to auction the distribution rights to some of the estimated 150 songs the 50-year-old pop star had completed and stored away in the years before his JUNE 25th death, say record industry sources. Given the sale of more than two million copies of JACKSON's previously released albums in the two weeks following his death, the promise of new material could set off spirited bidding among major music labels.
One executive estimates it's worth well in excess of $500 million.
"At the center of the action will be JACKSON's longtime lawyer, JOHN BRANCA, one of the estate's two 'special administrators.' A tough negotiator, BRANCA obtained a then-unheard-of $1.2 million from MTV and SHOWTIME to finance JACKSON's 1983 'Thriller' video. The attorney also arranged JACKSON's $47.5 million acquisition of a valuable ATV publishing catalog that included songs by THE BEATLES.
"The prize this time is a cache of songs JACKSON had been recording since 2001, when he quit SONY's EPIC RECORDS after it released his album 'Invincible.' In the years since, he recorded with rapper WILL.I.AM, pop singer AKON, and others. The estate's other special administrator, family friend and former record executive JOHN MCCLAIN, is cataloging the music, which one executive estimates is worth 'well in excess of $500 million.'
"One big question is whether SONY, which released the last six original JACKSON albums, along with two compilations, retains rights to the unreleased songs. Under a clause in JACKSON's EPIC contract that specified he would regain control of the masters of his songs in 2011, SONY could claim it is also due songs created before then, says one former high-ranking SONY executive." "SONY is in an ideal position right now to sell tons of MICHAEL JACKSON catalogs, collector sets, [and] unreleased materials," agrees former SONY MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT Chairman TOMMY MOTTOLA.
Among potential bidders: UNIVERSAL MUSIC GROUP, which owns JACKSON's old label MOTOWN. After his death, UNIVERSAL began marketing a new line of JACKSON-designed sunglasses, jackets, and other goods. WARNER MUSIC GROUP would also probably bid. It already administers the MIJACK catalog that licenses his songs."
A Place With No Name Leaked
NBC's TODAY show offered a partial listen to one new MICHAEL JACKSON song, called "A Place With No Name." The song samples AMERICA's 1972 hit, "A Horse With No Name."
Listen to it here.