All You Need Is Cash: Beatles to Sony!

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Lee Scoggins, Mar 4, 2002.

  1. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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    Friends,
    There is hope for a Beatles Super Audio CD! [​IMG]
    Sony has purchased the catalog!
    From foxnews.com...
    Beatles Songs: From Jacko to Sony ASAP
    The clock is ticking quickly now on the sale of the Beatles' songs to Sony Music.
    I am told that Sony Music Publishing's President Richard Rowe is now in constant contact with Michael Jackson and his representatives. The reason? It's time for Jackson to relinquish his half of the Beatles' song catalog to Sony. (Jackson bought the catalog in 1985 from Sir Lew Grade's estate for $47.5 million. He sold half of it to Sony in 1991 for a reported $100 million.)
    A nevertheless cash-strapped Jackson, as noted here and in other places for the last couple of years, borrowed $200 million from lenders in the mid-90s and used Sony as the note holder. Jackson — with debts incurred from out-of-court legal settlements and high personal expenses — needed the big bucks. Sony was more than willing to accommodate him.
    Jackson's only collateral for such a loan was his 50 percent ownership in the Beatles' — meaning John Lennon and Paul McCartney's — nearly invaluable collection of hit songs. The catalog is valued at between $400 and $600 million and is the richest song catalog of any kind. "Yesterday" ranks as one of the most-played songs live and on the radio some 35 years after it was first released.
    How rich and pervasive is the Beatles' inventory? "Let It Be," "Michelle," "Hey Jude," "And I Love Her," and "Penny Lane" all rank on the top of BMI's lists of three million or more all-time airplays. An astounding 14 more Lennon-McCartney compositions have 2 million airplays. An additional 20 or so Beatle tunes rank as BMI's "million-airs."
    That comes to a total of 40 songs, or roughly a quarter of the total catalog.
    Jackson had counted on sales of his Invincible album to bail him out of his debts. But Invincible — now in the bottom half of the record charts — has been a bust in the U.S. with far fewer than 2 million copies sold.
    "Sony will either make him a cash offer for the catalog or just call the note," says a source familiar with the situation. "But it's going to happen. Richard Rowe is on the phone with them all the time."
    Sony's fiscal year ends March 31, which is impetus for Rowe to work out the deal quickly. Sony Corp.'s stock price is just about half of what it was last May. The addition of such a rich asset as the Beatles would do a lot to — as McCartney once wrote — take a sad song and make it better.
    Why, you might ask, doesn't much-publicized Beatle billionaire Paul McCartney step in and buy the songs? He's made two attempts in the last 20 years, but in each instance he and Yoko Ono, John Lennon's widow, were unable to come to any agreement about partnership. McCartney thinks that "Yesterday," for example, should carry only his name since he wrote it himself without Lennon. Ono has insisted that the songwriting duo's original agreement — that their names appear on all their songs together regardless of authorship — continue in place.
    Regardless of who owns the catalog, by the way, the publisher still has to split the profits with the songwriters. So McCartney and Lennon's estate will still realize huge amounts of money once Sony takes over. Indeed, Lennon's estate, courtesy of copyright laws, will get an even higher portion than McCartney.
    This is going to be great I hope...[​IMG]
    Lee
     
  2. John Tillman

    John Tillman Supporting Actor

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    Great story. But if Sony has owned half since 91', why have they not already done anything? I guess its in the terms of the agreement, but seems kind of strange to make a ONE HUNDRED MILLION dollar cash investment and have to sit on your hands for TEN years to use the asset.
    Let's hope they get to use the asset now [​IMG].
     
  3. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    We don't know which half. Should Sony have released half of Abbey Road? Or a dreaded "best of" compilation?

    I'm glad they waited and if they get the full rights, I hope they release all the original albums, mastered from the best possible source, and put it on CD and SACD.

    Come on, Jacko, give it up!
     
  4. Tim Gerdes

    Tim Gerdes Second Unit

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    What Michael Jackson owns, and what Sony is trying to purchase, is the rights to the Beatles songs, not the recordings.

    EMI still owns the original recordings that the Beatles made. Sony and Michael Jackson only control how the songs can be licensed and used in future recordings, films, television jingles, etc.

    Additionally, this is why the Beatles were able to successfully sue Nike when they used Revolution in a sneaker ad. Although Nike licensed the song from the rights holders, they did not get permission from the Beatles and EMI to use the original recording of the song, which is what they used in the ad.

    In a perfect world, these rights would be owned by the Beatles themselves.

    Perhaps then we wouldn't see Taxman, Getting Better or When I'm 64 in commercials selling products and services.
     
  5. Larry Geller

    Larry Geller Supporting Actor

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    Down guys!! This is for SONGS NOT RECORDINGS. The Beatles' recordings belong to EMI-Capitol--always have, always will.
    The Michael Jackson purchase never had anything to do with the recordings, just the publishing royalties. In the early days of CD, in fact, Sony tried to sneak out 2 volumes of the Star Club recordings, & were immediately slapped down by Capitol & had to withdraw them (no big deal, since they were horrible anyway).
    Now where are my Capitol Beatles' DVD-As?? [​IMG]

    EDIT-Sorry, hadn't seen the previous post!
     
  6. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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    Larry,

    Maybe you are right. I may have misunderstood. When they said songs I assumed the recording rights as well. If not, is this just music publishing rights? If so, this clearly will not help our efforts.

    And you raise the big question: If EMI has the recording rights, why no DVD Audio? Hell, even a hard core Super Audiophile like myself would buy that in a heartbeat!

    If you are in a format war, why not bring out your best titles?

    Also, EMI made a public commitment to SACD a few months ago. Where are the Beatles SACDs?

    My point ultimately still stands on the SACD issue, but thanks very much for clarifying the rights issue...

    Any entertainment attorneys with an opinion or inside knowledge out there?

    Lee
     
  7. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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    One more point...
    The more I think about this DVDA/SACD war is it seems more like a glorified skirmish. Sony whom I really like for making me an SCD-777ES and thus giving me great sonics, sure seems to be releasing titles slowly.
    Maybe the studios are making what we consultants call a "staged investment"...
    I am increasingly concerned that DVD Audio and Super Audio fans may be buying the audio version of laserdisc. Yet, the more I play with DVDA, the more disappointed I am with the sound - my XRCDs sound better!
    I hope I'm wrong but please Sony release some big titles now and prove me wrong! [​IMG]
    Lee
     
  8. Larry Geller

    Larry Geller Supporting Actor

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  9. Tim Gerdes

    Tim Gerdes Second Unit

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    Larry is correct that any release from the Beatles catalog requires the approval of each Beatle or his respective estate. I imagine this will only get harder no that George is gone as well.

    I remember that when Anthology came out there was some grousing in the press (by Paul I believe) that it was so difficult to finalize the track listings because if any one of the four (Yoko standing in for John) vetoed a song it wouldn't make the cut.

    As a result there was some bargaining (an example might be Paul allowing George to keep "All Things Must Pass" on the disc in exchange George allowing "Come and Get It" to remain). Anthology 3 was delayed for a few weeks when Yoko and Paul had a tiff over songwriting credits on tracks that first appeared on McCartney solo albums (i.e. Teddy Boy and Junk). Paul eventually won that battle, I believe.

    In addition to all of this, the Beatles, much like Disney in the home video realm, seem to favor releasing their masterworks in a slow trickle rather than all at once.

    We usually see just one or two Beatles related items every year or so. Last year it was the Beatles 1 collection. Rumors indicate that this year might bring Anthology to DVD with a new 5.1 soundtrack.

    I expect that any re-release of the catalog is a long way off, especially in a new format. Just look at how long it took for the Beatles to hit CD in the first place.
     
  10. Larry Geller

    Larry Geller Supporting Actor

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  11. Tim Gerdes

    Tim Gerdes Second Unit

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  12. John Tillman

    John Tillman Supporting Actor

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    Lee said:

     
  13. Jagan Seshadri

    Jagan Seshadri Supporting Actor

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  14. Tim Gerdes

    Tim Gerdes Second Unit

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  15. Colin Jacobson

    Colin Jacobson Producer

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  16. Tim Gerdes

    Tim Gerdes Second Unit

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  17. Philip Hamm

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  18. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Producer

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    Philip,
    Interesting post but I am not sure if "mainstreaming" would kill the format - DVD has done well overall, excluding the widescreen issues. Sony players are almost at Joe Six Pack levels.
    The really interesting thing is that you would buy a player if the Beatles came out on SACD.
    I'd buy a second one! [​IMG]
    Lee
     
  19. Larry Geller

    Larry Geller Supporting Actor

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  20. John Tillman

    John Tillman Supporting Actor

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    Larry,

    I'm not big on the dirt behind the Beatles bottleneck... What was Harrison's problem? He wasn't part of the L-M writing team.

    I also enjoyed the re-mixed Yellow Sub but I don't know the answer to you question. Bring on the new 'Hard Days Night'... Been a hard days year waiting for it.
     

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