Michael Jackson’s estate and BMI have renewed their pact for the publishing rights organization to represent the late singer’s songwriting catalog, as it has since 1979. The length of the new deal was not announced, but it was last reupped in 2014.
“The influence of Michael Jackson’s revolutionary music is undeniable,” Mike O’Neill, BMI’s president & CEO, said in a statement. “We are extremely pleased that his estate continues to entrust BMI to represent his extraordinary catalog.”
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John Branca and John McClain, longtime co-executors of the estate, released their own statement celebrating the extension. “Michael first signed with BMI in the nascent stage of his solo career and BMI has never wavered in its commitment to his extraordinary talent,” they said. “This is a significant agreement, commensurate with the robust growth of interest in his music and his enduring contribution to the culture.”
Jackson had a writing hand in most of his hits, with a catalog of more than 150 co-writes that includes such signature smashes as “Billie Jean,” “We Are the World,” “Wanna Be Startin’ Something,” “Bad,” “Black or White” and “Smooth Criminal.”
BMI pointed out in announcing the deal that on-demand streams of his songs increased by 23% last year, a bigger jump than the one experienced by the industry at large. He’s racked up an estimated 6.5 billion streams, a medium that was barely underway when Jackson died in 2009.
A jukebox musical built around Jackson’s songs, “MJ,” with a book by Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage, is set to open on Broadway in the summer of 2020. The Jackson estate is collaborating on the musical with Columbia Live Stage.
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