The music publisher behind Carole King's" Beautiful," "Motown: The Musical" and "Jersey Boys" finds new revenue on the Great White Way
Music publishing giant Sony/ATV, which in the past licensed rights to songs in two of Broadway's top-grossing hits, "Mamma Mia!" and "Jersey Boys," is exploring a potentially more lucrative, albeit riskier, role on the Great White Way: producer and backer of jukebox musicals, the stage productions where scores are based on previously released songs instead of original material.
The publishing company, which is co-owned by Sony Corp. and the estate of Michael Jackson, already has taken the first steps. It is one of two top-billed producers for "Beautiful," a show featuring songs from the early career of singer-songwriter Carole King that opened in January. The company also is a financial backer of "Motown: The Musical," the story of Motown founder Berry Gordy. Doug Morris, CEO of sister company Sony Music Entertainment, also is one of three lead producers on the show, which opened in March. Sony/ATV chairman and CEO Martin Bandier declines to specify the size of the company's investment in either property but says he has begun seeking partners to get other Sony/ATV material into Broadway jukeboxes and has four projects in development.
There are risks in moving into live theater, but given the current music landscape, Sony/ATV needs to think outside of the box, says Bandier, whose company controls publishing catalogs that generate about $1.2?billion annually. In the past decade, CD sales have fallen precipitously, and more recently, digital music has faltered as well.