Lorde Signs $2.5 Million Deal with Songs Music Publishing: Inside the Lengthy Bidding War

Left to right: Songs president and head of A&R Ron Perry, Lorde, Songs founder/CEO Matt Pincus

Lorde has signed with Songs Music Publishing in a worldwide deal that includes her debut EP, “The Love Club,” top-selling full-length “Pure Heroine” and future recordings.

The deal, which is worth $2.5 million, according to a person familiar with the terms, caps off a highly competitive, months-long bidding war in which over a half-dozen top publishers were courting the 17-year-old singer (born Ella Yellich O’Connor). It follows the breakout success of her single “Royals,” which this week extends its reign on the Hot 100 to six weeks.

Other publishers in the race include Kobalt, Sony/ATV, Universal Music Publishing Group and Spirit, according to executives who spoke with Billboard.

Songs executives would not comment on deal terms.
 
Songs founder/CEO Matt Pincus credits the win to the company’s president and head of A&R Ron Perry for his tireless efforts in meeting with Lorde and her managers, Scott Maclachlan and Tim Youngson, on virtually all dates of her U.S. tour.
 
“She could have signed anywhere she wanted to sign, and I don’t know what other people were offering, but as we often say -- music publishing is about relationships and it’s about people,” Pincus says. “Ron really connected with Ella and vice versa, and it’s really a tremendous opportunity for us. I’m incredible proud to be Ella’s publisher -- we think she’s a once-in-a-generation type artist.”
 
Perry estimates he’s seen somewhere between 10 and 15 Lorde concerts, including Monday’s showcase at VH1’s You Oughta Know concert in New York and Tuesday’s “Live On Letterman” taping at the Ed Sullivan Theater.

“My A&R guy Corey Roberts picked up on her in January, and sent me an email saying, ‘Stop what you’re doing,’” he says. “That was pretty ballsy considering he just started working for us six weeks prior. But I did, I flipped out right away, I played ‘Royals’ for Matt and he heard the first 12 seconds and was like, ‘That’s a hit.’”
 
Though the deal was only officially signed on Nov. 7, Lorde’s 17th birthday, Perry has already introduced the singer to fellow Songs clients like the Weeknd (aka Abel Tesfaye) and Diplo for potential collaborations.

“She’s gonna be a really big songwriter outside of Lorde,” Perry says. “She’s going to have a lot of big songs out there as Ella, and it’s a great feeling that we can be at a place that understands music comes first and foremost.”
 
Songs, which was founded in 2004, has an expanding catalog of songwriters and producers that includes Diplo, Nelly, Pharrell, the Weeknd, Conor Oberst, M83’s Morgan Kibby and DJ Mustard (B.o.B.’s “Headband,” Tyga’s “Rack City.”)
 
Lorde became the youngest solo female artist to top the Hot 100 in 25 years last month, and the first female in 17 years to reach No. 1 on the Hot Alternative Songs chart in August. Prior to the Songs deal, “Royals” scored a major global synch from Samsung, which licensed the track for a spot announcing its Galaxy Gear products.