Queen’s catalog of songs could soon generate a royal ransom.
Talks on the sale for the rights to the iconic British rock band’s music are “well underway,” CNN reported, with Universal Music Group likely to snatch up anthems like “We Are the Champions,” “We Will Rock You” and “Another One Bites the Dust” from Disney Music Group in a deal that “could surpass $1 billion.”
A spokesperson for the Disney Music Group dismissed the report as “wild rumors and speculation.”
“We have had no plans, nor do we have future plans to sell the Queen catalogue,” the spokesperson said.
Disney reportedly paid $10 million for the distribution rights to the band’s catalog in 1991.
Should “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” and the rest of the Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame band’s songs pull in the reported $1 billion, it would be the largest sale of a music catalog so far, knocking Bruce Springsteen from the top of the heap. The Boss sold his music catalog to Sony Music Entertainment in December 2021 for a reported $500 million.
That sum topped blockbuster deals inked by Bob Dylan, who sold the rights to 600 of his Nobel Prize-winning works to Universal Music Group a year earlier for a reported $300 million in December 2020. Neil Young followed suit the following month, selling a 50% stake in his catalog to Hipgnosis Song Fund for an undisclosed sum that some reports put at $150 million. David Bowie’s estate sold his catalog in January for $250 million.
The business of buying music rights and catalogs has grown dramatically in recent years, and it’s not just the musicians of the 1960s and 1970s who are cashing in.
From OneRepublic singer Ryan Tedder to Latin powerhouse Shakira to pop superstar Justin Bieber, who inked a deal worth $200 million six months ago, songwriters are cashing on while the market remains hot.
The billion dollar total for Queen’s music would in part represent the band’s resurgence after the 2018 Oscar-winning film “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
Founding members Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deadon — frontman Freddie Mercury died in 1991 — continue to tour with Adam Lambert taking the lead. They will begin a North American tour in Baltimore in October.
Queen Productions Ltd., a British company with May, Taylor and Deadon the sole directors, reported about $48 million in revenue in its most recent report, for the 12 months ended September 2021.