WHAT: In separate deals, Warner/Chappell Music signed Jay-Z, Beyonce and the Roc Nation publishing catalogs to worldwide administration agreements. The performer/songwriters and the hip-hop publishing company had previously been at EMI Music Publishing, which was acquired by a Sony Corp. of America-led consortium and is now administered by Sony/ATV Music Publishing. In order to lure the three away from EMI, sources suggest Warner/Chappell likely paid large advances and offered a cut-rate administration deal below the typical 15% fee charged for that function. Warner/Chappell declined to comment on the financial details.
WHY: Sources suggest that picking up Jay-Z and Beyonce is more about profile and prestige than it is about the benjamins. Jay-Z and Beyonce often get a songwriting credit for songs on their albums, but they're usually one of four or five songwriters per song, so their publishing revenue isn't as large as some artists who write the bulk of their material. So while Warner/Chappell is probably happy to add "Empire State of Mind" to its catalog, Jay-Z is only one of seven songwriters on the track. Still, a publisher wants to have someone like Jay-Z in its arsenal, publishing executives say. He's a magnet that can draw other talent, so a publisher can afford to overpay for someone of his stature. Also, since his songs are collaboratively written, Warner/Chappell could possibly place songwriters with the rapper and consequently realize a greater return. And of course, even in administration deals at a bargain-basement price, synch deals can still earn the administrator anywhere from 15% to 25%. Finally, any publisher needs to add to its hip-hop catalog, because it must be able to supply whatever music supervisors are shopping for.
WHO: Industry insiders suggest it was a given that Jay-Z, Beyonce and Roc Nation would follow former high-profile EMI executive Jon Platt, now president of creative for North America at Warner/Chappell Music, wherever he went, if he joined a formidable publisher. If Platt had stayed with EMI, sources suggest, Jay-Z, Beyonce and Roc Nation would still be there. Now the question is: Who else from the EMI portfolio will follow Platt to Warner/Chappell?
IF: In the event that other songwriters leave EMI for Warner/Chappell, will there be a tit-for-tat signing shoot-out between Martin Bandier's Sony/ATV and Platt, who used to work for Bandier? Meanwhile, a key Roc Nation songwriter, Philip Lawrence--a member of songwriting/production trio the Smeezingtons who has co-written hits for B.o.B, Bruno Mars, Cee Lo Green and Flo Rida--appears to have jumped ship for Universal Music Publishing Group, although his deal with Roc Nation isn't expected to lapse until later this year. Roc Nation, however, retains the catalog.