Sony Music are the champions – of Queen’s catalogue.

As Variety reports, two sources have confirmed the company is in the process of acquiring the band’s music catalogue, among other rights, for £1 billion (around $1.9 billion Aussie bucks).

The only revenue excluded from the deal is live performances, which founding members Brian May and Roger Taylor, who still actively tour with Adam Lambert, will retain.

Brian May, John Deacon (standing), Roger Taylor and Freddie Mercury in 1976.

The record-breaking acquisition marks the most expensive music catalogue sale in history, more than doubling the $600 million Sony paid for a 50% stake in Michael Jackson’s catalogue rights this year and the $500 million Sony spent on Bruce Springsteen’s back catalogue in 2021.

Another bidder was reportedly in the mix but topped out at $900 million.

Although Sony Music will own Queen’s music catalogue, as well as name, image, and likeness, the deal is a bit complicated. Right now, Disney owns the band’s recorded-music rights in the US and Canada but has been paying royalties to May and Taylor. Those earning will now go to Sony.

Universal also has a distribution deal with Queen through 2026 or 2027. When that contract is up, distribution rights outside the US and Canada will go to Sony.

Freddie Mercury, John Deacon, and Brian May (1984).

A string of artists have recently cashed-in their equity on their music catalogue.

Neil Young, Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, Paul Simon, the Beach Boys, Bob Dylan and many others have made millions (hundreds of millions in Dylan’s case) by turning over their publishing.

Ageing artists look to sell their music rights as a means of retirement or estate planning, especially as competition among record companies and other music investment companies, have sent catalogue prices skyrocketing.

While music catalogues are valuable assets, managing them is challenging, cumbersome and time-consuming. Rather than burden heirs with the responsibility of managing decades worth of music, many legacy artists are opting to take the cash now with the knowledge that their new partners will have the expertise and incentive to optimise the value of the music over time.