Sony Enters 7-Year, $250M Deal with Jackson Estate

Michael JacksonAdministrators of Michael Jackson‘s estate and his longtime record label, Sony Music Entertainment, have announced a seven-year distribution deal for as many as 10 new Jackson projects valued at as much as $250 million.

According to reports, the deal would include unreleased recordings, DVDs and video games.

Rob Stringer, chairman of the Columbia Epic label group called the deal a landmark for the recording industry. “The audio rights span across different projects,” Stringer said, according to The Los Angeles 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.”

The deal eclipses such agreements as Bruce Springsteen‘s $110-million, seven-album deal with Columbia signed in 2005 and Robbie Williams‘ $150-million, five-album deal with EMI in 2002.

In the nine months since Jackson’s death, more than 31 million of his albums have been sold worldwide, a source with knowledge of Jackson’s financial dealings told the LAT. (Although demand for Jackson music has leveled off after the initial rush, it remains high.)

Those sales and recent licensing deals have brought in close to $250 million to the estate.

The dollar amount of the new deal is especially striking against the backdrop of the music industry as a whole, in which US album sales have plunged 52% in a decade. Yet, notes The Wall Street Journal, it also underscores that the biggest acts are becoming even more essential to record labels.

“We think that recordings will always be an important part of the estate,” John Branca, an entertainment lawyer who is one of the estate’s executors, told The New York Times. “New generations of kids are discovering Michael.”

“A lot of the people that went to see This Is It were families,” he added. “This Is It was one of the few films allowed into China. So we think there are growing and untapped markets for Michael’s music.”

Sony and the Jackson estate already have plans in place for a reissue of Off the Wall next year that will contain a trove of new, exclusive material.