Sony/ATV is to administer the catalog of Michael Jackson’s own songs
We live as if on top of a volcano and do not have a moment of quiet. Today we’ve heard the news that the Estate signed an agreement under which the Sony/ATV joint venture will take care of administering the MJJac catalog which includes all Michael’s own songs.
Since every move by the Estate comes under double scrutiny and the word “Sony” is still a fright for many Michael’s supporters the news initially put me very much on my guard. However a little thinking made me realize that Michael’s songs still remain in full Michael’s ownership and all we are talking of is the right to promote his songs which was passed over from Warner Chappell to Sony/ATV. Considering that the joint venture is only one half Sony and the second half Michael, it means that the right to promote the songs has been passed to partially Michael Jackson himself.
In my view this might only for the better as a powerful entity like Sony/ATV will probably popularize Michael’s music better than anyone else.
Here is the news of the event from MJ-Upbeat.com:
NEW YORK —August 20, 2012—Sony/ATV Music Publishing announced today that the company has entered into a worldwide administration agreement to represent Michael Jackson’s iconic Mijac Music catalog. Founded by Michael Jackson in 1980 as his personal publishing company, Mijac Music grew to include – in addition to all of his own incredible songs – the classic Sly and the Family Stone catalog, songs by the legendary Philadelphia soul team of Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff as well as songs made famous by other artists such as Ray Charles, Elvis Presley and Aretha Franklin.
Of the announcement, Martin Bandier, Chairman and CEO of Sony/ATV said, “We are thrilled that the Estate of Michael Jackson has entrusted us with this incredible catalog of songs, and everyone at Sony/ATV looks forward to finding innovative ways to use these songs, while protecting their legacy.”
Commenting on the deal, John Branca and John McClain, co-executors of the Estate of Michael Jackson remarked, “Michael’s songs in the Mijac Music catalog not only showcase his greatness as a performer but also his creative genius as a songwriter. We are excited that the company Michael helped found, Sony/ATV Music Publishing, and in which his Estate remains a 50% partner, will represent these amazing songs along with a rich collection of other music recorded by some of our greatest popular artists.”
The agreement comes in advance of the September 18 release of BAD25, a new two-disc-package and DVD that marks the 25th anniversary of Michael’s landmark BAD album.
The Mijac catalog includes all of the songs written by the legendary King of Pop, Michael Jackson, including “Another Part Of Me,” “Bad,” “Beat It,” “Billie Jean,” “Black or White,” “Can You Feel It,” “Dangerous,” “Dirty Diana,” “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough,” “Earth Song,” “Heal the World,” “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You,” “Jam,” “Scream,” “Smooth Criminal,” “They Don’t Care About Us,” “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’,” “The Way You Make Me Feel” and “We Are The World.”
Also included in the catalog are some of the most iconic songs in rock, pop and soul music history, including “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now,” “After Midnight,” “Ease on Down the Road,” “Great Balls of Fire,” “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher,” “I Got A Woman,” “If You Don’t Know Me By Now,” “Love Train,” “Mr. Bojangles,” “People Get Ready,” “Runaround Sue,” “Shake, Rattle and Roll,” “Sixteen Candles,” “The Wanderer”, “What’d I Say,” “When a Man Loves a Woman” and “You Don’t Know Me”. Of special note the catalog includes the songs made famous by Rock and Roll Hall of Fame artist Sly and the Family Stone, including such hits as “Dance To the Music,” “Everybody is a Star,” “Everyday People,” “Family Affair,” “Hot Fun in the Summertime,” “If You Want Me To Stay,” “Sing a Simple Song,” “Stand” and “Thank You.”
About Sony/ATV Music Publishing
Sony/ATV Music Publishing, established in 1995 as a joint venture between Sony and Michael Jackson, is the world’s leading music publisher. Together with EMI Music Publishing, Leiber Stoller, Mijac Music, Motown and the Famous Music catalogs, Sony/ATV owns or administers more than 2 million copyrights, including some of the best known songs ever written. Sony/ATV’s catalog includes “New York, New York,” “All You Need Is Love,” “You’ve Got a Friend,” “Moon River,” “Jailhouse Rock,” “The Mission Impossible Theme,” “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “Over the Rainbow,” “Stand By Me,” “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” and “Singin’ in the Rain.” In addition, Sony/ATV represents the copyrights of such legendary artists as The Beatles, Leonard Cohen, Neil Diamond, Bob Dylan, Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson, Carole King, Kraftwerk, Joni Mitchell, Willie Nelson, Roy Orbison, Queen, The Rolling Stones, Richie Sambora, Sting, Wyclef Jean, Hank Williams and Stevie Wonder, among others. Its ever-growing list of chart-topping artists, writers and producers includes Beyoncé, Fall Out Boy, Jay-Z, Jessie J, Norah Jones, Alicia Keys, Lady Antebellum, Lady Gaga, John Mayer, P!nk, RedOne, Shakira, Ed Sheeran, Stargate, Taylor Swift and Kanye West.
Since even after this news bulletin a lot of questions still remained unanswered John Branca sent the following comment, which in my opinion could have been much more detailed in order to clear the remaining doubts and set our minds fully at ease:
I understand that you are being asked a lot of questions about Mijac.
Yes, there is a matching right that Michael granted to Sony/ATV but they only get to administer the catalog for a limited term AND only if they agree to unprecedented favorable terms. We will not relinquish ultimate control and ownership to anyone. We have favorably refinanced the loans on Mijac which will be paid off and the catalog WILL absolutely be passed to Michael’s children as long as we have anything to say about it.
Sony/ATV is a great company and the Estate owns half of it but no one, not even Sony/ATV, will ever own Mijac while John McClain and I remain in charge.
The current Sony team is the one Michael chose to work with on the Thriller 25 release and they are good partners. As stated in the recent court filings, they worked with us to refinance the burdensome debt that had been placed on Michael’s interest in Sony/ATV to very favorable terms, an important achievement which insures that Mijac and Michael’s masters remain secure for the benefit of Michael’s children for years to come.
I would appreciate your sharing this with the fans that are asking questions.
Thanks – John
The Estate Of Michael Jackson
Los Angeles, CA
The phrase that the catalog will absolutely be passed to Michael’s children “as long as the Estate lawyers have anything to say about it” sounds rather worrisome as it looks like there is a danger it might change hands if the Estate lawyers have no longer a say on the matter. I hope it is not a hint at some people’s desire to dispute the will, and that even if the Estate lawyers cease to have a say here the songs will still always be owned by Michael’s children only.
If there is indeed a danger that Michael’s catalog may cease to be the ownership of Michael’s children, some foolproof measures should be taken to guarantee that no such thing is ever possible. Frankly, to me this is all that matters in this whole Sony/ATV/MJJac music catalog business, with all other considerations being secondary.
However today I’ve encountered a Facebook opinion that is vehemently against passing over the right to administer Michael’s songs to Sony/ATV venture even if the songs remain fully Michael’s and grow in popularity too:
- “Thank you for speaking about terms of Michael’s popularity. It’s not my way to evaluate things. That’s why my focus will never be yours. As I said before, to me nothing matters more than Michael’s choices until his last breath.
- Michael Jackson NEVER involved his MJJAC catalog with Sony/ATV IN HIS LIFETIME. Before Branca and McClain, there was Michael Jackson himself as the owner of MJJAC and Sony/ATV. Until he was ALIVE, he kept them SEPARATELY. The co-executors can be the smartest business people ever born on this earth, I DON’T CARE. To me, what matters are Michael Jackson’s choices and all the things HE did when HE was here before he was killed”.
Everyone has a right to her own opinion, and thinking that it was too late to ask Michael about his views on managing his songs I decided to have a look at how successful the previous administrator of Michael’s catalog, Warner Chappell Music, was in handling this business and, you will never believe it… the very first article found on the Internet told me that in the year 2003 Michael was planning to pass over the management of his songs… you won’t believe it again … to Sony/ATV!
In an article dated December 2003 Roger Friedman says that Michael’s advisers were working on a deal that could enable Sony/ATV purchase Warner Chappell and thus bring all Michael’s publishing rights under one roof – which is exactly what is happening now. If we are to believe Roger Friedman Michael was even ready to use his share in Sony/ATV as collateral to purchase Warner Chappell in order to manage his songs himself.
This is what Friedman wrote in December 2003 or a month after the Neverland raid by Tom Sneddon. Please don’t pay attention to the derogatory nickname and an occasionally mocking style – this is the horrible reality Michael Jackson had to put up with throughout his life:
Jacko Almost Bought Warner Music Catalog
December 01, 2003
Friday’s New York Times was all atwitter about corporate music grinder Andrew Lloyd Webber seeking the publishing catalog of the now-sold Warner Music Group.
It’s called Warner Chappell Music, and includes, among thousands of titles, all of Michael Jackson’s solo hits like “Billie Jean” and “Beat It” from his “Thriller,” “Bad,” “Dangerous,” “HIStory” and “Invincible” albums.
But Lloyd Webber’s interest in Warner Chappell is not the first from a composer. I can tell you now that Jackson himself thought he was buying Warner Chappell just two months ago.
Jackson’s advisors — now in disarray — were unified during the summer. They figured out that Jackson’s half interest in Sony/ATV Music (aka the Beatles catalog, et al) would be enough collateral to launch an inventive deal. They engaged investment bankers at Goldman Sachs, who put together a firm offer for Sony/ATV to buy Warner Chappell. This would have brought all of Jackson’s major publishing holdings together under one roof.
But luck has never been on Jackson’s side concerning such matters. Just as the Goldman Sachs deal looked ready to roll, Warner Music got out of its other merger deals and looked to Edgar Bronfman’s group as a potential buyer. Bronfman wanted the publishing company as well as the record catalog. Almost simultaneously, the Santa Barbara DA began to make his move on Jackson. There was no way at that point for the plans to jell.
Even more perplexing in the Jackson saga: Even though Jackson was making this deal, and even though he’d been on trial in Santa Maria earlier in 2003 for his breach of contract lawsuit with manager Marcel Avram, he never bothered to tell the lawyers and business people handling the Goldman-Warner-Sony proposal that the child-molestation case even existed. All of them — including such longtime Jackson legal advisers as John Branca, Steve Cochran (no relation to Johnnie) and Zia Modabber — found out when the world did, on the morning of Nov. 19 when the Neverland Ranch was raided by the Santa Barbara police department.
In the last point Friedman is of course gravely mistaken – Michael Jackson himself had no way of knowing that on November 18, 2003 all his plans and life would be ruined by Sneddon as his long-time Hater, however as regards the rest of the story Friedman looks rather well-informed.
Replying to today’s news about Sony/ATV rights to administer Michael’s songs Roger Friedman wrote the following interesting piece (sent to us by Susanne, thanks!).
The only point that baffles me here is that Friedman is talking of $300 mln. still owed to the Estate to Bank of America on separate loans. Firstly, I thought that those debts had long been resold to another company (as Friedman was writing about it himself), and secondly, I was under the impression that the major part of the debt had already been paid (unless we are totally in the dark as regards the situation).
But apart from that the article is a good read. Among other things it confirms to us that neither the Beatles nor Michael Jackson’s catalogs are in the danger of ever been sold (I keep my finger crossed).
Please note what a miraculous effect Michael Jackson’s posthumous success has on the style of the same author:
08/20/12 6:15pm Roger Friedman
The Michael Jackson music catalog, known as MiJac, has been moved to Sony-ATV from Warner Chappell. In layman’s terms: this is a blow to Warner Music and a major win for Sony.
Even though MiJac was heavily leveraged for years, I’m told the loan from HSBC is down to around $4 million. The Michael Jackson estate still owes just under $300 million to Bank of America on separate loans Michael took against his ownership in Sony-ATV Music Publishing.
What’s happened now is that Jackson’s long contract with Warner Chappell, the publishing division of Warner Music Group, expired last December. Sony-ATV, in which he has a 50% ownership interest, had the right to match or better any offer when MiJac’s deal with WMG was done. The deal was actually completed a couple of months ago, I’m told. But with all the brouhaha concerning Katherine Jackson and the Jackson siblings demand to oust Michael’s executors, an announcement was put off.
Now all of Michael Jackson’s music publishing will be in one place: Sony-ATV. MiJac holds all of his songs like “Billie Jean” and “Beat It” plus hundreds of other publishing copyrights including everything by Sly Stone.
It’s a plum win for Sony and a devastating loss for Warner Music. Warner Chappell was the only part of that company still doing well. To lose MiJac, especially since Jackson’s death and the renewed interest in his music, is a heavy setback. It’s unclear whether that was explained to Len Blavatnik and his Access Industries group when they bought WMG from Edgar Bronfman Jr last year.
Meantime: it’s been underlined that now neither MiJac nor Sony-ATV or the Beatles catalog, is for sale. The Jackson estate has done an excellent job of paying down the various loans and renegotiating the interest rates in more favorable terms.
All these pieces of news came so marvellously together that I decided to immediately write about them. Please add or correct if in the hurry of it I overlooked something.