By Marc Payne
Michael Jackson aka The King of Pop leaves behind arguably the most extensive and lucrative pop music catalog in the world. Even though Jackson passed away, his brand will leave an imprint in pop culture for decades. Between number one singles of the Jackson 5 collection and his own solo career, Jackson seemed to be involved in nothing but number one singles and record-breaking albums. Jackson also owned 200 songs of the Beatles repertoire including the hits “Yesterday” and “Eleanor Rigby”. He bought the catalog in 1985 when he outbid Paul McCartney and John Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, for about half of the Beatles song catalog and rights for $47.5 million. The Beatles catalog alone is now valued at about $500 million. Thus leaving the question, who will own the music catalogs and how will the estate get out of the $400 million debt that Jackson so frivolously got himself into? Even more importantly, who will make the decisions of the estate, how will it be divided, and who will be the beneficiaries of the music and Michael Jackson brand? Will it be his father Joe Jackson, his brothers in The Jackson 5, Lisa Marie Presley, his three children, Paul McCartney, his pet monkey Bubbles? KTSM-TV news estimates the Michael Jackson estate can be worth more than $1 billion. Jackson owned the master recordings of his own music, a 50 percent share of Sony/ATV Music Publishing valued at $2 million dollars, and a 750,000-song catalog including acts like The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Lady Gaga, and The Jonas Brothers. The contents of Michael Jackson's will have yet to be released because due to the fact that typically, a will becomes 30 days after death.
UK newspaper “The Daily Mirror” stated Jackson “told his lawyers he was sad he no longer talks to Sir Paul and said he wanted to make things right.” This could be an inside to assuming that Jackson will give the rights back to McCartney. But will the beneficiaries of his estate want to sell the rights since Jackson’s debt is so tremendous? Jackson’s legal advisers believe that the battle over his estate, finances, and vast debts could go on for years. Dell Bryant, CEO of Broadcast Music Inc., which collects royalties for “Beat it” believes revenue of Jacksons performances will triple this year because of his death. If Jackson was not already considered a musical icon, he will definitely be held at legendary status in the next few years. The future looks bright for the estate of Michael Jackson even though his court cases could have tarnished his reputation. Regardless, the man is one of the most talented singers and greatest performers of all time. I predict that in the next few years, there will be an influx of Michael Jackson impersonators. Some of which will probably marry newlyweds in Las Vegas, Nevada along with the wannabe Elvis Presley’s. iTunes reported that the top 5 albums on the day of his death, June 25, 2009, were all Michael Jackson albums. More hip-hop artists and upcoming Pop/RB acts will sample and use Michael Jackson songs to pay tribute to the unforgettable artist. This will cause an increase of royalties in the Michael Jackson estate because for the use of sampling, artists must pay 9.1 cents for the standard compulsory license. Numerous television shows will feature songs of the late artist and this will acquire a synchronization license that will be paid to his estate. The Michael Jackson estate will make more money by exploiting the brand, as well as selling and owning rights of merchandise, likeness, unreleased music, and unseen footage of his performances. When legends die, fans want something to remember them by so getting the Michael Jackson estate out of debt will not be an issue. The issue is who will own the estate and who will be making money off the Michael Jackson brand for future generations to come. CNN indicated on Monday, June 29 2009, Michael Jackson's children were placed under guardianship with his mother, Katherine Jackson. The Wall Street Journal indicated that Michael Jackson drafted a will in 2002, supposedly granting custody of his estate to his mother, three children and a couple charities. However, the 2002 will excludes his father, who had a problematical relationship with his son and who, it is said, contributed to Jackson’s troubled childhood. Supposedly Katherine Jackson is the person Michael trusts the most. If MJ trusts his mother the most with his children, he probably trusts his mom the most with his money and estate.
Marc Payne is an LA-based hip hop artist and freelance writer.
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