Value of Prince’s $300-million estate is expected to soar in coming years – Los Angeles Times

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By any measure, Prince was rock star royalty. That includes his wealth.

The prolific musician leaves behind a vast legacy of genre-bending albums and gender-bending fashion statements — and an estate said to be worth about $300 million, making him one of the most valuable entertainers in the world.

It’s still unclear who will end up inheriting the singer-guitarist’s fortune. Whoever takes control stands to benefit handsomely from a song library, including hits like “1999” and “When Doves Cry,” that is only expected to soar in value in the years ahead.

Prince, who died Thursday at 57, is poised to join a rarefied field of singer-songwriter artists like Michael Jackson, John Lennon and Bob Marley, who continue to make money well after their deaths.

The purple-clad songwriter’s wealth includes more than just music and his years of concert ticket sales. His Minnesota compound Paisley Park, where he recorded music and hosted parties, is worth millions. And the Prince name and image are likely to fetch significant licensing income, experts said.

However, Prince’s music is expected to remain the cornerstone of his estate — and one that he defended closely as digital shifts turned the recording industry upside down. Prince scored dozens of top 40 hits throughout his career and sold more than 100 million records worldwide. Then there’s the potential windfall from the famed “vault” of unreleased material housed at Paisley Park.

“There’s tremendous value there,” said Martin Neumann, an estate planning lawyer and partner at the Los Angeles firm Weinstock Manion. “For someone like Prince who’s been around for so long, obviously the value of his catalog will increase after his death, significantly more so than for other people.”

As Prince’s kingly worth shows, those who own their copyrighted work can build sizable levels of wealth. Ownership of an enduring song catalog by artists like U2 and Billy Joel can produce steady, robust income streams that other entertainers, such as Hollywood actors, often can’t rely on. Only a select group of actor-producers, including Tom Hanks and Tom Cruise, are said to be worth more.

That’s especially true for the estate of Michael Jackson, which controls the late singer’s master recordings, along with his name and likeness. The estate has generated more than $1 billion in revenue since his 2009 death by licensing his brand and music — including for the Las Vegas Cirque du Soleil show “Michael Jackson One” — and releasing new material, according to Forbes.

Jackson proved to be an especially prescient deal maker when it came to owning famous songs. Jackson’s heirs recently agreed to sell their half of Sony/ATV, the publishing company that owns most of the Beatles catalog, to Sony Music Entertainment for $750 million. Jackson in 1985 paid $47.5 million for Beatles publisher ATV Music, which he later merged with Sony’s publishing arm.

Prince was the master of his own economic destiny in a way that is virtually unmatched in today’s music business. He owned his recording and publishing copyrights and often played nearly every instrument on his tracks. That gave him an unmatched level of control over his fate even as the record business changed around him.

“It’s a very unusual situation,” said Matt Pincus, chief executive of Songs Music Publishing. “I can’t imagine a catalog that would have a higher value.”

The fate of Prince’s fortune remains to be seen.

Value of Prince’s $300-million estate is expected to soar in coming years – Los Angeles Times