Who Owns the Rights to Michael Jackson’s Music?

The rights to Michael Jackson’s music are owned by Sony Music Publishing (formerly Sony/ATV Music Publishing). With endless opportunities to make money off of Jackson’s music, Sony has a lot of power to maintain control over the rights.

The King of Pop has been an iconic figure in the music industry for decades, and his songs continued to sell well even after his untimely death in 2009. His legacy still stands even after his death. With an extensive catalog of songs and albums, it’s no surprise that Jackson’s music still continues to generate significant amounts of revenue for Sony.

Michael Jackson and Sony

In 1985, Michael Jackson bought the record label, ATV Music Publishing. The deal included the rights to many Beatles songs, making Jackson a leading player in the publishing world. This purchase opened up new opportunities for Jackson to profit from his own and others’ music.

Ten years later, Sony offered to buy 50% of ATV Music Publishing from Jackson. This was one of the largest deals in recording history, and it gave Sony control over more than 200,000 songs by artists like Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, and The Rolling Stones.

By 2016, Sony had bought the remaining 50% of The Jackson Estate’s stake in the company after Jackson’s death in 2009. With this, Sony is the sole owner of the company, which includes the shares, numerous catalogs of songs, and publishing rights to Michael’s music. However, Mijac Music still owns the rights to his original master recordings.

Michael Jackson and Mijac Music

MJ’s personal record label, Mijac Music, holds all of his released and unreleased master recordings. This includes tracks from his days with the Jackson 5, solo albums, and unreleased songs. Michael’s label is the only source for his music, with Sony Music Publishing in charge of managing and publishing the label.

The Michael Jackson Estate

The Michael Jackson Estate is a private company set up after his death in 2009. It manages all of Michael’s business and personal affairs, including merchandising, licensing, and recording contracts. They were the entity that handled the agreement with Sony in 2016.

They also have the power to decide whether or not to release some of Michael’s unreleased recordings and sell Jackson’s music in the future. 


While Sony Music Publishing has the publishing rights to Michael Jackson’s music, other parties like Mijac Music and The Jackson Estate still have a significant amount of control over how that music is used and distributed. Whether it’s for licensing opportunities or future releases, these organizations play an important role in maintaining Michael Jackson’s legacy as one of the most iconic figures in the music industry.

Michael Jackson Featured Image by: Zoran Veselinovic, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons