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, an icon in music for decades, continues to sell well even after his 2009 death. His legacy endures with an extensive catalog, still generating significant revenue for Sony.

Michael Jackson and Sony

In 1985, Michael Jackson bought ATV Music Publishing, acquiring rights to many Beatles songs. This purchase made Jackson a major figure in music publishing and created new opportunities for him to profit from both his and others’ music.

Ten years later, Sony offered to buy 50% of ATV Music Publishing from Jackson. This massive deal gave Sony control over more than 200,000 songs by artists like Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, and The Rolling Stones.

By 2016, Sony bought the remaining 50% of The Jackson Estate’s stake in the company after Jackson’s death in 2009. With this, Sony became the sole owner, including shares, numerous song catalogs, 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 his released and unreleased songs. This includes tracks from his Jackson 5 days, solo albums, and unreleased material. Michael’s label is the sole source for his music, with Sony Music Publishing handling management and publishing.

The Michael Jackson Estate

The Michael Jackson Estate, a private company established after his 2009 death, manages Michael’s business and personal affairs, including merchandising, licensing, and recording contracts. They handled the agreement with Sony in 2016.

They can choose to release some of Michael’s unreleased recordings and sell his music in the years ahead. 


Sony Music Publishing holds the publishing rights to Michael Jackson’s music, but other entities like Mijac Music and The Jackson Estate also have substantial control over its usage and distribution. These groups are essential in licensing and future releases, ensuring Michael Jackson’s legacy remains iconic.

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