If Whitney Houston’s heirs are counting on royalties from her record company Sony, they may soon feel like paupers.
On Wednesday, music-industry blogger Wayne Rosso quoted a label executive “familiar with Sony’s accounting” who said the late singer’s estate probably won’t see any royalty checks from her record label “in our lifetime” — and maybe longer — thanks in part to the number of advances and loans she took from the $100 million deal she cut with Sony Music in 2001.
On Wednesday, Rosso, an outspoken veteran of the music business who has consulted for CBS, Island, MCA, Arista and RCA Records, to name just a few labels, posted a report in his blog titled, “Whitney to Sony: I Will Always Owe You.”
In it, Rosso estimated that Houston would have to posthumously sell more than 5 million albums “to repay her advances and start to get royalty checks.”
Although sales of Houston’s music has seen a significant sales bump since her untimely death on Feb. 11, the eve of the Grammys, Rosso estimates that her greatest-hits album would have to occupy the No. 1 slot on the Billboard charts for the next six months to hit the goal.
In today’s fickle culture, Rosso’s source notes, “That ain’t going to happen.”
Rosso also writes that on top of the advances Houston took from her 2002 deal, she “consistently took out loans from the label with Clive Davis ’ assistance.”
He adds that the “last big loan was reportedly from Clive for $1.2 million, though everyone knows it came from Sony and not from Clive.”
A spokeswoman for Sony-owned RCA Records, which was Houston’s label, declined to comment.
Houston’s spokeswoman Jill Fritzo did not respond to a request for comment.
Rosso also quotes an insider who points out that Houston’s estate may face an even bigger problem in the long term: “They don’t have a smart guy like” the co-executor of Michael Jackson’s estate, John Branca , “who would have marched into Sony the day after Whitney died and renegotiated the deal,” said the source.
Rosso also quotes another Houston “loyalist” who notes that there’s been no real industry professional to look after Houston’s career and business opportunities since she broke with her manager, father John Houston, who died in 2003. His company had negotiated her $100 million deal.