Some wild publishing stuff going on. Sony/ATV, a joint venture of Sony and Michael Jackson, just added the catalog of legends Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller to their already impressive roster that incl

Some wild publishing stuff going on. Sony/ATV, a joint venture of Sony and Michael Jackson, just added the catalog of legends Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller to their already impressive roster that includes the Beatles, Bob Dylan and Hank Williams. You may remember a few of the pair's obscure tunes like "Stand by Me," "Jailhouse Rock" and "Hound Dog."

This should make Marty Bandier, new head of Sony/ATV, the happiest boy in Pub Land—give or take Lawrence Mestel, head of Primary Wave Music Publishing, which just bought Julian Lennon's piece of his father's writing royalties (not publishing, which Sony/ATV mostly has). Everyone I've talked to about this has been happily surprised that Julian had been taken care of a little bit by his father's estate.

Meanwhile, Vivendi Universal is about to become the world's biggest publisher by buying BMG Music Publishing from Bertelsmann, which shouldn't be confused with Sony BMG Entertainment or Sony/ATV for that matter.

You following this nonsense? It doesn't really matter anyway, it's all real estate. None of this has anything to do with music, since publishers have no legal obligation to do anything with songs once they buy them.

When publishers started, and actually worked for a living, their job was to support and encourage writers, then connect songs to an appropriate singer or TV advertiser or whoever. Now they mainly sit back and collect money from either automatic annual revenue streams or some ad agency music fan or film supervisor luckily picking their songs.

Lance Freed from Rondor/Universal is the only exception I know. He came up the old-school way and never changed. His company may have been absorbed by one of the faceless titans, but he knows every song by every writer he's ever signed. And his people are actively working existing catalog, while he continues to encourage songwriters to work together and write, write, write. He knows no matter what may be trendy this week or next, eventually, if the music business is going to continue to exist, it's going to need to create music. This has become radical thought.

You know, songs. Written by geniuses like Leiber & Stoller.

See you on the radio.

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