Queen’s back catalogue could sell for a record US$1 billion

Should the deal proceed, it may become the biggest catalogue sale in music history

Queen’s music impacted the world with theatrical, anthemic hits that still inspire music acts to this day. The legendary rock band’s work is still making headlines, with the news that it may sell sometime soon for an unprecedented sum.

Talks around a Universal Music Group acquisition of the band’s music catalogue from Disney Music Group are “well underway,” a source familiar with the deal told CNN. The sale may exceed a whopping £800 million and the transaction is reportedly “expected to close within one month”.

Disney and Universal did not immediately respond to Robb Report inquiries. However, a spokesperson for Disney Music Group told CNN that they had no plans to sell the catalogue, which includes 15 studio albums, 10 live albums and 73 singles, plus a plethora of compilations and soundtracks.

In December 2021, Bruce Springsteen sold his entire catalog of music to Sony Music Entertainment in a blockbuster deal reportedly worth around £400 million, The Los Angeles Times reported. The Boss’s sale is currently the highest ever paid for a music catalogue, but the potential deal for Queen’s music could easily surpass it.

CNN reported that the sum may be partially attributed to the 2018 Oscar-winning film Bohemian Rhapsody, starring Rami Malek. The biopic told the story of the band’s formation, centring on its late frontman Freddie Mercury, right up to its legendary performance at Live Aid in 1986. It led to renewed interest in the band’s songs including the film’s namesake, We Will Rock You and We Are The Champions.

Of course, Springsteen and Queen aren’t the only artists exploring sales of their catalogues. Other big names such as Justin Timberlake, Neil Young and John Legend have also done so, ABC News reports. At only 28 years old, Justin Bieber reportedly sold his catalog for around £160 million.

Rolling Stone reported in 2021 that one of the reasons why selling a music catalogue might be alluring for a musician is the COVID-19 pandemic. The inability to tour and conduct other music deals during the pandemic caused financial strain. By and large, touring is now back on, of course, but acts still have to weigh up the benefits or otherwise of various deals with record labels and streaming platforms.

There are also personal circumstances, the magazine reported. For instance, older musicians might feel that separating a lump sum for their children might be easier than trying to navigate a patchwork of copyrights.

This story was first published in Robb Report USA