Business News Deals Labels & Publishers

US rights in six Beatles songs change ownership

By | Published on Wednesday 11 January 2012

The Beatles

The North American publishing rights in six early Beatles songs have changed hands, following a sale by the sons of the US publisher who originally did a deal with John Lennon and Paul McCartney back in 1963.

George Pincus bought the American rights in the six songs, which include ‘She Loves You’, ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ and ‘From Me To You’, after the bigger American music publishing firms knocked back approaches from The Beatles’ then UK publisher. It’s not known what he paid for them, though according to the Financial Times the story goes that he considered selling them on for $200 a year later.

It’s also not known what Pincus’s sons Leonard and Irwin will have made by selling the six songs now to Round Hill Music and Adage Classics, who bid jointly, though experts told the FT the songs could be worth anything between $10 million and $20 million. It’s thought that Sony/ATV, which owns the majority of the Lennon/McCartney catalogue, and already has a minority interest in these six songs, made a bid, though it’s not known if Round Hill and Adage beat the major on price or intent.

But Adage Classics CEO Herb Jordan did tell the FT: “It wasn’t simply a commercial transaction, we had to convince them we’d bring a level of respect, expertise and creativity”.

One of the partners in Round Hill Music, which is basically a music business start-up, called the deal “a dream come true”. Richard Rowe is the son of Dick Rowe, the 1960s Decca Records executive who, rock legend has it, turned down an offer to sign the then fledgling The Beatles by declaring “guitar groups are on their way out”. Rowe Junior has had first hand experience of managing the Lennon/McCartney oeuvre from his time as President of Sony/ATV, but seems particularly excited to now have a personal stake in six of the early Beatles songs.