Washington: Sony and the estate of late music legend Michael Jackson have signed a record-breaking $250 million deal fordistribution rights through 2017, US media said Tuesday.
The blockbuster deal involving as many as 10 new Jackson projects may include computer video games as well as music and film releases, the Los Angeles Times said.
“The audio rights span across different projects,” said Rob Stringer, chairman of the US label Columbia Epic, a division of Sony, reported the Times.
“There may be theater. There may be films and movies. There may be computer games — or multimedia platforms that I don’t know about today that will happen in 2015.”
Described by Sony and Jackson’s estate as the most lucrative music contract on record, the deal would guarantee the late singer’s heirs at least $200 million, the Wall Street Journal said.
The deal would go a long way to easing burdens left behind by Jackson, whose lavish lifestyle and spending sprees marked up hundreds of millions of dollars of debt.
After his death, a Los Angeles court named Jackson’s mother, Katherine Jackson, 79, guardian of his three children, Prince Michael, 12, Paris, 11 and Prince Michael II, 7, as well as of his estate, which includes his Neverland ranch and rights he held to songs by The Beatles.
Sony’s contract “exceeds all previous industry benchmarks,” entertainment lawyer John Branca, one of the estate’s executors, told the New York Times.
The closest comparable contracts would be rapper Jay-Z’s 2008 accord with Live Nation worth $150 million for recordings and concerts.
Since his death on June 25 last year, Sony has sold some 31 million Jackson albums worldwide and his estate, by the first anniversary of his death, is expected to have made $250 million from the sale of music, merchandise and tickets to the posthumous concert movie “This Is It,” the Journal said.
Jackson died at his rented mansion in Los Angeles after an overdose of powerful prescription drugs, as he was preparing to perform a series of comeback concerts in London.
The star’s doctor Conrad Murray last month pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter in connection with the sudden death, but has admitted administering the drugs to the singer.
The first recording under the new contract, according to the New York Times, will be the soundtrack for This Is It — which showed Jackson rehearsing his comeback concerts in the weeks leading up to his death — and by November a new album of unreleased recordings.
Branca told the LA Times that a look at other high-earning careers held by dead music legends indicated the value of Jackson’s brand.
“If you look at Elvis and the Beatles, and how their brands are thriving, they only hint at what the future holds for Michael,” Branca said.
In October, Forbes Magazine named Jackson as number three in its annual Top-Earning Dead Celebrities list, earning $90 million in the months after his death.
Fashion legend Yves Saint Laurent topped the list with $350 million in posthumous earnings, while Elvis Presley came just behind Jackson with $55 million.