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Queen sells recording and publishing rights for $1.27 billion

Queen has reportedly agreed to sell their recording, publishing and other rights to Sony Music for a record $1.27 billion.

According to Hits, the deal also includes name and likeness rights, potentially opening the door to musicals, commercial and film placements, merchandising and other monetization opportunities. The band’s 2018 autobiographical film Bohemian Rhapsody earned more than $900 million worldwide.

Disney and Universal Music Group will permanently retain the rights to distribute Queen’s records in North America, but the band’s share of royalties will now go to Sony Music. For the rest of the world, these rights are expected to transfer from current owners UMG to Sony Music in 2026 or 2027.

According to Variety, revenue from live performances is not included in the deal. Founding members Brian May and Roger Taylor continue to perform live with singer Adam Lambert. Bassist John Deacon retired shortly after the death of singer Freddie Mercury in 1991.

The $1.27 billion marks the largest music rights sale ever, surpassing Bruce Springsteen’s previous $500 million deal in 2021, also to Sony Music, as well as a deal reached earlier this year in which Sony agreed to pay $600 million for half of Michael Jackson’s publications. and recorded master catalogue.

Rumors of a possible deal for Queen began circulating in 2023 and continued for over a year. Universal Music is also said to be interested in purchasing the catalog.

Other Rockstar Catalog Sales

Queen is the latest rock act to sell the rights to their catalogue, joining a list of artists that includes Bob Dylan, Stevie Nicks, Blondie, Chrissie Hynde, Journey, Nikki Sixx, Steve Winwood and a number of others.

READ MORE: The best song from any Queen album

“I can’t work and streaming stole my record money,” the late David Crosby, who sold his catalog in 2021, explained on social media. “I have a family and a mortgage and I have to take care of them, so it’s my only option. I’m sure the others feel the same way.”

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Gallery credit: Allison Rapp