TEXT OF INTERVIEW
Doug Krizner: The music business is usually split into two halves. One finds, develops and promotes artists. The other focuses on songwriters and publishing. Sony BMG is the world’s second largest record label, but it’s not been in the publishing biz. That’s because of an agreement Sony has with Michael Jackson, but things could change. Sony and Jackson are renegotiating their deal and Sony BMG could begin signing songwriters for the first time. Dan Sabbagh is media editor for the Times of London. Dan what’s this deal about?
Dan Sabbagh: Well the key here is that there’s a separate company called Sony ATV. That’s a joint venture between Sony and Michael Jackson. It owns a huge catalogue of songs including all 251 Beatles songs. Now the issue here is that when that venture was set up, Sony agreed that it would not back a competing publishing business, a competing catalogue of songwriters. Now they’ve created Sony BMG since then. Sony BMG’s very keen to get into publishing.
Krizner: How critical is the publishing aspect of the business to the survival of Sony BMG do you think?
Sabbagh: Well, look, Sony BMG’s the No. 2 recording music company. It will survive but it will fare a lot worse if it doesn’t have access to a publishing business, it’ll fare a lot worse commercially. Music publishing generates revenues from radio airplay, from advertising, as well as indirectly from sales. Plus sometimes you have a new, you know, you have a very talented singer who comes along, a new singer, you also want to look after them as a songwriter and you want to have both parts of their business if you like.
Krizner: What do you think Jackson’s trying to get out of these negotiations?
Sabbagh: Well it’s not clear. One obvious answer is money. What isn’t clear is how far Jackson is willing to allow Sony BMG to complete and I think that will be offset by Sony’s willingness to write a check.
Krizner: Dan Sabbagh is media editor with the Times of London, thanks very much for joining us.
Sabbagh: Thank you very much.
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