Publishing Briefs: Spirit Picks Up StyleSonic Catalog, ole Takes Jingle Punks and John Denver to Kobalt

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Billboard's Ed Christman rounds-up all the big news happening in the music publishing world.

• Toronto-based indie music publisher ole continues its thrust into production music with the acquisition of Jingle Punks. According to the company, the move makes ole's production library one of the largest, with 350,000-400,000 tracks. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

As part of the deal, Jingle Punks founders, Jared Gutstadt and Dan Demole, will oversee ole's production music operation. "ole looks forward to working with Jingle Punks towards a future that combines our respective strengths to great advantage and for the benefit of our clients," ole chairman and CEO Robert Ott said in a statement.

In addition to providing economies of scale, the move benefits both operations, giving Jingle Punk clients, like television shows Pawn Stars and The Voice, access to ole's global rights management platform, while the acquired firm's creative service capabilities is "now augmented by a serious war chest," according to the announcement of the deal. That indicates the company is on the prowl for further production music acquisitions.

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"Ole's sensibilities are keenly matched with ours," Jingle Punks CEO Gutstadt said in a statement. "We continue to focus on the core assets and core capabilities of our business and grow, grow, grow."

Ole's catalog had already included 60,000 hours of TV and film music across all genres. Previously, in August 2012, ole had acquired MusicBox, a Los Angeles-based production music company with 24,000 tracks. At the time of the deal, ole had a production music library with 150,000 tracks.

During the past decade, ole has struck various catalog deals with MGM, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Nu Image and Millennium Films. Its also made co-ownership deals with TV production companies Cineflix and Nelvana. Before this deal, half of ole's income -- which was approaching $40 million in net publisher's share -- came from film and TV music.

As part of the deal, Jingle Punk's Nashville operation, which included country music songwriters who also produced music for television and ad clients, will be folded into ole's Nashville operation. Ole "has an extremely strong proficiency in country music," so it made sense to merge Jingle Punks Nashville operation into ole's Gutstadt said.

• Spirit Music Group is making another acquisition in Nashville. This time it's buying the StyleSonic publishing catalog, which includes songs recorded by such Nashville artists as Tim McGraw, Dierks Bentley, Taylor Swift, and Martina McBride.

In the last year, Spirit acquired the CAL IV catalog, which includes songs like Faith Hill's "Breathe," Keith Urban's "Stupid Boy," McGraw's "Watch the Wind Blow By," Jason Aldean's "Big Green Tractor," Rascal Flatts' "Rewind," Love and Theft's "Angel Eyes" and Lady Antebellum's "It Ain't Pretty." In Febuary, Spirit bought West Main Music, an independent Contemporary Christian publishing catalog.

In the current deal with StyleSonic, Spirit adds such songs as Jerrod Niemann's "Drink to That All Night," McGraw's "It Felt Good On My Lips" and "Highway Don't Care" featuring Swift and Bentley's "Feel That Fire."

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According to Spirit Music, the catalog also includes over 15 Top 20 Country songs as well as the catalogs of such country songwriters as Brad and Brett Warren (professionally known as The Warren Brothers) and Lance Miller.

"The acquisition of the StyleSonic catalog fulfills multiple goals for Spirit, including continuing our aggressive growth strategy via high quality catalog acquisitions, while also fulfilling the goal of helping build and strengthen our growing Spirit Music Nashville operation, Spirit Music Group chairman David Renzer said in a statement.

• In another move, Spirit Music Group has appointed Charlie Davis as senior director of advertising; he will report to Spirit Music Group senior VP of creative services Peter Shane. Davis previously worked as director of licensing at Warner/Chappell Production Music and has worked at Downtown Music Publishing and EMI Music Publishing. According to the announcement, Davis, who is also a drummer, songwriter/producer and DJ, will have the primary focus to find creative placement opportunities for Spirit's song catalog in advertising campaigns.

• Kobalt Music Publishing will take over U.S. publishing administration responsibilities for the entire John Denver catalog, which includes such songs as "Take Me Home Country Roads," "Rocky Mountain High," and "Leaving On A Jet Plane." "We feel extremely privileged to be able to work with the Denver Estate and help bring John's music to a new audience," Kobalt Music Group president Richard Sanders said in a statement. "His gift for songwriting sees his music continue to resonate with both new and old fans, and with record sales in the millions his legacy lives on."

• In another move, Kobalt has signed a global publishing deal with Matt Johnson of The The. The agreement covers all future composition including the new album from the band, and also includes the score to the film "Hyena," and his previous soundtrack work for indie films "Tony," and "Moonbug." All three soundtracks were released on Johnson's own label, Cinéola.

• The ASCAP appeal of the 1.85 percent of revenue royalty rate that Judge Denise Cote set with Pandora began on Thursday, March 19, almost a year after the judge set the rate, which is set to run through the end of 2015.

In July, ASCAP announced it would file its appeal with the  Second Circuit Court of Appeals, and it was joined in that action by Sony/ATV Music Publishing and the Universal Music Publishing Group. The appeal covers the 1.85% rate set from 2011 through the end of 2015.

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• Atlas Music Publishing has appointed Leslie Greene as vp of business and legal affairs reporting to Atlas Music CEO Richard Stumpf. Greene, a veteran with over 20 years of experience working with artist/writer-centric independent music companies, including serving as vp of business & legal affairs for S1 Songs America / Dimensional Music Publishing, and working in that area with Zomba Music Publishing, Tommy Boy Records and H.O.L.A. Recordings. Most recently, she operated her own law office where her clients included a digital music service, diverse performing and visual artists, record companies, music publishers, songwriters, producers, and entertainment executives. She has also served as an Adjunct Professor teaching music industry related courses at New York Law School.

"It's wonderful to have someone with Leslie's legal experience and success join our team," Stumpf said in a statement." Throughout her career, she's earned a reputation as a knowledgeable and fair attorney. She has a client-first central focus which aligns perfectly with who we are as music publishers at Atlas."

• Warner/Chappel Music have signed a global publishing deal with Russian composer Alexander Zhurbin, who has written four symphonies, six operas, three ballets and has also written more than 60 film and TV scores and 40 stage musicals.

Zhurbin's rock-opera, Orpheus and Eurydice, ran for 39 years in Russia and sold over three million albums. A major festival, named "50 Years with the Music of Maestro Alexander Zhurbin" featuring Zhurbin's compositions, will be held in Moscow from October through December, 2015, according to the announcement.

"I am happy to write simultaneously all different kinds of music: symphonies for big orchestras, pop songs, string quartets, rock ballets, chamber operas, and film soundtracks," Zhurbin said in a statement. "When you turn your brain from one kind of music to another, your view is getting fresher, your ears are hearing better."

Round Hill Music have signed songwriter Jeffrey David to an exclusive co-publishing agreement. In addition to writing songs for Seal, Cher Lloyd and Echosmith, he has also composed over 350 synchs for such shows at Monday Night Football, Glee, The Biggest Loser and ESPN; as well as scoring commercials for such brands as Southwest Airlines and Lamborghini.


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