Exclusive: Michael Jackson, even in death, remains in the middle of the current musical chairs deals in the declining record industry.
For all these years, Michael’s MiJac Publishing has been administered by Warner Chappell, part of what is now Warner Music Group. MiJac includes not only Michael’s hits that he wrote, like “Billie Jean” and “Beat It,” but a vast number of other hits including those of Ray Charles, Curtis Mayfield, and Sly and the Family Stone.
Warner Chappell doesn’t own MiJac but it administers the rights to it and collects hefty fees. With WMG for sale, and talk of Warner Chappell being sold off, MiJac would seem like an integral part of their story.
But there’s a hitch that I can reveal to you: MiJac is leaving Warner Chappell and going to become part of Sony/ATV Music Publishing, the company that Michael Jackson’s estate co-owns with Sony and contains the Beatles catalog.
According to sources, this arrangement was written into the MiJac contract with Warner Chappell years ago. It would be triggered by the release of the next Jackson album–in this case, the recent “Michael”–and the repayment of loans.
The move by MiJac to Sony/ATV is a big deal for many reasons. With both WMG and EMI Music for sale, Sony
Sony/ATV could be kicking the tires of each company’s publishing divisions for purchase. But Warner Chappell might be less interesting to Sony ATV considering they’re already getting Mi Jac. And without MiJac, Warner Chappell–which just had a down quarter–might not look so good to other potential buyers.
What may happen now: the newer, and very hot, BMG Music Rights will likely make a play for EMI Music Publishing. EMI Music–the record company, which has the Beatles albums in its catalog–the physical albums and box sets–could then be merged with another record company like Sony Music or, more horrifyingly, Warner Music. Stay tuned.