Indie publisher peermusic has acquired a 50% worldwide interest in the catalogs of Malaco Music, Muscle Shoals Sound Music and the Atlanta International Records' publishing unit. The acquisitions add more than 9,000 titles of Southern soul music to the publisher's repertoire.

"Think of it as the Motown of the South," says Ralph Peer II, chairman/CEO of peermusic. "It's the grouping of the catalog that make this such a wonderful trove of music. They have acquired songs over the years that may not be part of that genre, like 'Old Time Rock 'N' Roll' and 'Ring My Bell,' but the heart of the catalog is material they've built up since 1968 that represents the focused music of the South."

In 1999, Tim McGraw had a No. 2 Hot Country Songs hit with "For A Little While," a song from the catalog written by Jerry Vandiver, Steve Mandile and Phil Vassar. In 2004, Rascal Flatt's had a No. 1 Hot Country Songs hit with "Mayberry" written by Arlos Smith.

The Muscle Shoals catalog includes music recorded at the famed Alabama studio of the same name, which closed a few years ago. It was a place where artists created a sound that some describe as a blend of country, gospel and R&B.

"In the last few years, there have been a lot of samples of their work," says Kathy Spanberger, president/COO of peermusic North America. Among the artists whose records sampled Malaco songs are Lil' Kim, 50 Cent and Shaggy.

The owners of the catalogs retained a 50% interest in them, but peermusic will be administering the catalogs worldwide. Peermusic will also be working closely with Malaco president Tommy Couch, who co-founded the company with Mitchell Malouf.

Writers of the compositions include George Jackson, Larry Addison, Trent Tomlinson, King Floyd, Denise LaSalle and Rev. James Cleveland.

Peer says that the bulk of the music was recorded on sister labels of the publishers. The acquisition now makes peermusic the primary source of southern music, he adds, similar to its standing for Latin music.