Thursday, May 23, 2024

End of the Michael Jackson Beatles Catalog Saga as Sony Music Publishing Drops “ATV” from Its Name


It’s the end of an era that began in 1995.

Michael Jackson fans know all too well the saga of how Michael bought what was called ATV Music from Sir Lew Grade in the 1980s. ATV’s biggest asset was Northern Songs, aka the Beatles catalog that consisted of 250 or more Lennon and McCartney songs.

In 1995, needing money after spending lavishly for years and making settlements over accusations of child molestation, Michael’s lawyers cut a deal to merge with what was known as Sony Music. Michael turned that deal into a piggy bank from which he borrowed and leveraged over and over until he lost control of everything.

Sadly, Michael died in 2009. In 2016, Sony acquired the Michael Jackson estate’s 50% share of Sony/ATV, making it a wholly owned Sony company.

And now, Sony is dropping the ATV part of the name. They own the Beatles catalog, mission accomplished. They got the goose that lays the golden egg. Sir Lew Grade is but a memory, as is Dick James, who owned Northern Songs with the Beatles until it was sold to Grade in 1969. Did Sir Lew and Dick know that the Beatles would become the combined Beethoven, Bach, and Mozart of pop music? That six decades later, music publishers would desire their catalog as if it were the Ring in Lord of the Rings?

Welcome back, Sony Music Publishing.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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