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Michael Jackson was beset with trials and tribulations which, on face of it, were unconnected to each other. There was the child abuse charge, the downturn in record sales, the financial catastrophes and the struggles to retain ownership of Sony/ATV, his back catalogue and Neverland.
Yet far from being coincidental, everywhere we detected the hidden hand of Sony attempting to orchestrate events." –Lynton Guest
This post aims to raise awareness amongst the mainstream media and consequently, the public at large. Herein contained is a compilation & analysis of the events that transpired between Michael Jackson and Sony since 2000.
We will review a timeline of events such as Sony’s Invincible album sabotage, Martin Bashir Interview, 2005 Trial and Michael's business affairs with Sony.
It will bring to light a sordid display of abuse of power and the use of questionable tactics by Sony against its own artist and business partner.
It will reveal what lied behind the “conspiracy” remarks you often heard MJ utter.
He said “dont judge a man until you walk two moons in his moccasins." Lets walk two moons in Michael Jackson’s moccasins.
In 1985, Michael Jackson bought the ATV Music Publishing aka Beatles Catalog for $47.5 million. Yes, Michael used to own ALL of Beatles Catalog.
At the time, it appeared to be a business savvy decision.
In hindsight, it will turn out to be a deadly mistake.
Michael Jackson-Sony discord started in 2000 and disintegrated in 2002.
The onset of Michael’s trying times, his frequent utterances of “conspiracy”
and his fear for his life coincide with the aforementioned time frame.
“The incredible machinations of the men from Japan and their American allies were designed to ensure nothing less than the destruction of Michael Jackson and billions of dollars profit for Sony. The dark underbelly of the entertainment world is not a pretty sight. It’s time to hold it up to the light” –Lynton Guest
Michael was expecting the licenses to the masters of his back Catalog (mechanical copyrights) to revert back to him in 2000 which would have allowed him to market his songs without sharing profits with Sony.
Michael was in awe to find out that due to various clauses in his Sony contract,
the date when the copyrights revert back to him was many years away.
The contract required Michael to deliver to a certain number of albums on a given period. For every album he didn’t deliver, Sony added more years to when the mechanical copyrights would revert back to Michael.
Michael stated that he wasn't informed of such clauses.
Upon investigation, Michael found out that the law firm that represented him also represented Sony. He used this conflict of interest to extricate himself from the Sony Contract. Michael would deliver Invincible album, Sony retains rights to repackage Michael’s back Catalog and Michael is out of his Sony contract.
Michael was so chagrined by the entire situation that he dragged his foot during the production of Invincible. To make matters worse, Sony restricted Michael’s creative control, which it had never done with other albums. There were many heated debates between the parties over production, budget and promotion.
As an advance on forthcoming sales of Invincible, Michael had negotiated a $188 million loan from Sony, using his stake in Sony/ATV Catalog as collateral.
While demanding that Michael reimburse the loan, Sony simultaneously sabotaged the production, promotion and the sale of Invincible album.
Why did Sony sabotage against its own artist?
Michael wasn’t just another artist to Sony. He was a business partner with an equal stake in Sony/ATV Publishing. Now that Michael left the label, stakes had just gotten high. Sabotaging Invincible was just another mundane business decision for Sony to keep its publishing division intact.
When Michael sold half of the Catalog in 1995, parties signed a contract that allowed Michael to dissolve the LLC and take his half of the Catalog with him upon exiting the label as well as %50 of the earnings from the years of the joint venture.
The LLC between Michael and Sony gained considerably in value since its inception, with hundreds of millions of dollars in liquid assets.
If Michael were to dissolve the joint venture in 2002 when he left Sony, Sony would have been forced to transfer half of the LLC assets and half of the Music Publishing Catalog that it acquired together with Michael since 1995. Sony would also have to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to Michael for the %50 of the earnings from the LLC years.
This could have resulted in a massive financial deficit for Sony, undermining what little financial stability it had achieved through fiscal restructuring.
At the time, the entire music industry was suffering from a depressed economy. Sony was not exempt from this downward trend.
In 2000, Sony cut off 17,000 jobs. After it announced a disasterous $927 million net loss in first 3 months of 2003, Sony's stock sinked %24 in 2 days, losing
$3.8 Billion of its value. The news shocked the Stock Market and the event was dubbed as "Sony Shock".
"Sony Shock was also shock to us" said Nobuyuki Idei, Chairman of Sony.
In October 2003, Sony announced it would cut off another 20,000 jobs.
Due to the downsizing & modest hits of Jennifer Lopez and Michael Jackson,
the record division posted a %9 gain — but with an operation deficit of over $100 million (Sony 2002 Annual report). By the third quarter of the fiscal year, the only reason that Sony Entertainment Division posted a gain was because of the increased value of the Yen when converted to Western currencies.
One of the foundations that upheld the profit margin was its Music Publishing Department. Michael dissolving the LLC was a risk Sony couldn't afford! If only Sony could take full possession of the Catalog.