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Queen poised for $1bn payday as band eyes back catalogue sale

Queen band members Brian May, Roger Taylor, John Deacon and the estate of former frontman Freddie Mercury are equal shareholders in Queen Productions
Queen band members Brian May, Roger Taylor, John Deacon and the estate of former frontman Freddie Mercury are equal shareholders in Queen Productions - Phil Dent/Redferns

Sony Music is in talks to buy Queen’s back catalogue of songs in a deal worth $1bn (£790m).

The US record company is reportedly working with another investor to acquire the rights to the British rock band’s best-selling hits, such as Bohemian Rhapsody, Don’t Stop Me Now and We Will Rock You.

Sony Music, which is managed by the entertainment division of Japan’s Sony Group, is also plotting to secure Queen’s merchandising rights.

The agreement is potentially worth up to $1bn and would be one of the biggest deals of its kind, Bloomberg reported.

The negotiations are ongoing and may not result in an agreement.

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Queen band members Brian May, Roger Taylor, John Deacon and the estate of former frontman Freddie Mercury are equal shareholders in Queen Productions, which recorded £40.9m in revenue in 2022.

It follows previous reports last year that the rock band were in talks to sell its catalogue in a deal between Disney and Universal.

The sale would see Queen join the growing list of superstars cashing out from past hits as music investment funds, record labels and private equity firms spend billions of dollars hoovering up song rights.

Bob Dylan sold the publishing rights to his entire back catalogue spanning six decades to Universal Music Group in December 2020 for an estimated $300m.

Pop stars Shakira, Justin Bieber and Katy Perry have since followed suit by selling interest in their music in deals worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Sony Music, which is the second largest of the so-called big three record companies, has already spent vast sums buying up music back catalogues.

The New York-based company bought the rights to Bob Dylan’s master recordings in 2022 in a deal reportedly worth as much as $200m.

It then paid an estimated $600m for half of Michael Jackson’s catalogue, in the largest-ever deal for the work of a single musician.

However, the boom has since come under pressure as rising interest rates have increased the cost of deal-making.

Hipgnosis, which owns rights to songs by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Blondie and Justin Timberlake, last month accepted a $1.6bn takeover offer from US private equity investor Blackstone.

The takeover bid came after the London-listed investment firm was found to have overestimated the value of its song catalogues.

Sony was contacted for comment.