Word came out over the weekend that Google was a clandestine bidder for Michael Jackson’s half of Sony/ATV Music Publishing, and the news had the music business wiping its collective brow in relief. Had that purchase happened, we might be looking at a very different industry landscape today.
To recap, last March a buy-sell clause was triggered in the agreement between Sony/ATV and the estate of Michael Jackson that allowed either party to buy out the other, which ended in Sony paying around $750 million for the Estate’s 50% ownership in the company.
At the time it seemed inevitable that the negotiation would go that way, although it was rumored that the Jackson Estate actually had a deep pocket investor who could put up the needed cash to take the deal the other way.
What we didn’t know then was that Google was also a buyer in the mix, and you can bet that was a major factor in Sony pushing hard to get the deal done. In retrospect, it’s surprising that it only cost Sony $750 million, in that it’s conceivable that Google’s presence could have easily pushed that figure much higher.
Now think for a second what the ramifications of Google owning part of Sony/ATV would be today. First of all, it would be part owner of the largest music publishing company in the world – one that manages 4 million copyrights of some of music’s biggest publishing moneymakers, like The Beatles, Taylor Swift, Michael Jackson, Ed Sheeran, James Brown, Elvis Presley, Oasis and Eminem.
What do you think would happen when it came time to negotiate the next licensing agreement with YouTube (which Google owns) and Google Play? It stands to reason that Google/Sony would give itself a sweetheart deal in such a situation, right? Imagine how the rest of the industry would have reacted to that one. [Read more on Forbes…]