Rolling Stones Pick Bertelsmann's BMG to Rep Music Publishing Catalog

The Rolling Stones Performing London - H 2012
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The Rolling Stones Performing London - H 2012

It is the first time that songwriters Mick Jagger and Keith Richards have picked an outside music publisher in 40 years.

LONDON -- Music rights group BMG, owned by German media giant Bertelsmann, will represent the Rolling Stones' Mick Jagger and Keith Richards' post-1983 music publishing catalog, the company and band said Wednesday. 

It  marks the first time that the band's songwriters have picked an outside music publisher in 40 years.

As of July 1, BMG will take on direct responsibility for publishing all of the songs written by the Rolling Stones songwriting team since 1983. Additionally, it will be responsible for handling Jagger and Richards' shares of their pre-1983 copyrights, which are represented by ABKCO (1963-1971) and EMI Music Publishing (1971-1983).

The deal comes as the British band celebrates the 50th anniversary of the release of its first single in June of 1963.

BMG’s responsibilities will range from marketing and licensing the songs to the film, TV and advertising sectors to reaching payment plans for the writers for the use of their output across "the fast-growing number of digital music services."

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BMG Chrysalis senior vp Alexi Cory-Smith said: "Mick Jagger and Keith Richards are among the greatest songwriters in rock ‘n’ roll history. It’s a huge honor that they have chosen us to represent their interests. Beginning on July 1, we will be working alongside all of our offices around the world to give them the very best BMG can offer."

Said Jagger and Richards: "We look forward to a fresh and fruitful long-term business relationship with all the team at BMG."

The songs to be directly published by BMG span the albums Dirty Work (1986), Steel Wheels (1989), Voodoo Lounge (1994), Bridges To Babylon (1997) and A Bigger Bang (2005), as well as future compositions. The deal also includes such classic Stones tracks as "Mixed Emotions," "Love Is Strong," "You Got Me Rocking" and "Doom And Gloom."

BMG will also administer Jagger and Richards’ interests in all of the Rolling Stones hits dating back to 1963, including "(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction," "Brown Sugar" and "Angie."

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BMG CEO Hartwig Masuch described winning the Jagger and Richards account as a "a significant milestone for the company, less than five years after it was founded."

Said Masuch: "Keith and Mick have clearly created one of the most outstanding song collections in rock 'n' roll history. They have not only created the soundtrack of all of our lives, they have been a dynamic and constant force for cultural change. They could sign to any company they wanted to. The fact that they have chosen to sign with BMG is a significant vote of confidence in our team and in our creative and administration services. We will justify their trust in us."

The announcement seems to have ruffled the feathers of ABKCO, which released a clarifying statement not long after BMG's announcement. It read, in part:

In light of today’s announcement by BMG concerning its involvement in music publishing interests in songs written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, ABKCO Music, Inc. wishes to reiterate that ABKCO, and ABKCO alone, owns and controls 100% of the worldwide copyright to the original 1963-1971 publishing catalog of Jagger/Richards Rolling Stones compositions.

ABKCO CEO Jody Klein stated that the BMG announcement "has no relevance whatsoever to ABKCO’s ongoing role in its ownership or control of all existing copyrights, including such seminal titles as ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’, ‘Brown Sugar’, ‘Can’t You Hear Me Knocking’ and others from that period as has been the case for more than 40 years. ... It is unfortunate that BMG’s statement may have led some to conclude otherwise.”

The Rolling Stones are currently in the midst of the U.S. leg of their 50 & Counting tour before playing the Glastonbury Festival on June 29 and two dates in London’s Hyde Park on July 6 and July 13.

BMG, launched in 2008, is the fourth-biggest music publishing company in the world and most recently acquired the Sanctuary Records and Mute Records catalogs.

Twitter: @THRMusic