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Jackson estate in record deal worth up to US$250 million

Published:Wednesday | March 17, 2010 | 12:00 AM


The estate of Michael Jackson has landed the late King of Pop the biggest recording deal in history: a US$200 million guaranteed contract with Sony Music Entertainment for 10 projects over seven years, according to a source familiar with the deal.

The record-breaking contract through to 2017 could be worth up to US$250 million if certain conditions are met. One of the albums will be of never-before-released Jackson recordings that will come out in November, the source said.

Future projects may also include a video game, a DVD compilation of videos and a re-release of Off the Wall, Jackson's fifth studio album, which first came out in 1979, accompanied by some unreleased material. Before his sudden death in June at age 50, the pop star had wanted to re-issue the album, people familiar with the deal said.

One of the projects already counted in the contract was the two-disc album that accompanied This Is It, the film based on footage of concert rehearsals for what was to have been Jackson's comeback at London's O2 arena.

Including the more than five million copies of that special release, Jackson has sold some 31 million albums since his death in June, about two-thirds of them outside the United States.

"During his life, Michael's contracts set the standard for the industry," said John Branca, the co-administrator of the Jackson estate, in a statement prepared for release yesterday. "By all objective criteria, this agreement with Sony Music demonstrates the lasting power of Michael's music by exceeding all previous industry benchmarks."

Royalties not included

The landmark deal is worth more than all other benchmarks, such as the all-encompassing rights deals that concert promoter and ticket-seller, Live Nation Entertainment Inc had previously signed with Madonna at US$120 million and Jay-Z for US$150 million.

The deal with Jackson's estate is even more remarkable because it does not include royalties from merchandise.

The contract shows the value of legacy artistes. It also comes at a time of decline for the music industry, with sales down about half from their peak in 2000, mainly due to free file-swapping.

'The landmark deal is worth more than all other benchmarks ...

... it is even more remarkable because it does not include royalties from merchandise.'