US publishing rights for six early Beatles songs are sold

The US publishing rights for six of The Beatles’ early songs have changed hands for the first time since the 1960s.

Round Hill Music and Adage Classics have bought a portfolio of copyrights that includes the songs ‘She Loves You’, ‘From Me To You’, ‘I Saw Her Standing There’, ‘Misery’, ‘There’s A Place’ and ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’.

Round Hill Music, a year-old start up, bought the catalogue with Adage Classics, an intellectual property rights group, for the GIL Music and GPS Music catalogues. Although the terms of the deal have not been disclosed, the songs are believed to be worth up to $10 million.

The sale allows Round Hill and Adage to collect songwriting royalties and licensing income for the songs. The rights are restricted to the United States and Canada.

New York song promoter George Pincus originally acquired the US and Canadian rights to the songs, written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, after seeing The Beatles perform in England in 1963. In 1964 Pincus attempted to sell the rights for £200, but they remained under family ownership.

In later years Pincus’ sons Leonard and Irwin rejected approaches from groups including Sony/ATV, the partnership which holds the rights to 251 Lennon-McCartney songs following the 1969 sale of Northern Songs. Sony/ATV still controls the publishing for the six songs outside North America.

The six Beatles songs are part of Northern Songs, but the rights stand outside of Sony/ATV ownership due to the Pincuses’ deal, which granted the family rights that lasted for the duration of the song’s copyright period. The Pincus family will retain a minority stake in the GIL and GPS catalogues.

It wasn’t simply a commercial transaction. We had to convince them we’d bring a level of respect, expertise and creativity.
Herb Jordan
Chief executive, Adage Classics

The GIL and GPS catalogues include over 200 other titles, including Come Go With Me by the Del-Vikings, the 1956 song which John Lennon was singing with The Quarrymen when Paul McCartney first saw them perform on 6 July 1957.

Round Hill was founded in early 2011 by investment banker Josh Gruss with the aim of acquiring iconic music. It also owns rights to songs popularised by Frank Sinatra, Bon Jovi and Katy Perry.

Round Hill and Adage reportedly intend to licence rights to use the Beatles songs in films, television and merchandise, and aggressively seek out new sources of income.

The idea is to get them out there, so that people aren’t scared, that maybe they thought some of these songs were untouchable. Just get them out there and service them in the same manner we would any high quality song
Neil Gillis
President, Round Hill Music

The Pincus’ brothers’ decision to sell the rights to the songs was described by Round Hill’s Richard Rowe – the son of Decca Records’ Dick Rowe, who famously rejected The Beatles in 1962 – as “a dream come true”.

Richard Rowe, a former president of Sony/ATV Music Publishing, previously negotiated Sony’s acquisition of ATV Music Publishing to take control of the bulk of Lennon-McCartney’s songs.

Last updated: 12 January 2012
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