Spirit Music acquires Bergman catalog

More than 300 songs included in deal

Spirit Music Group and its majority owner, Spirit Catalogue Holdings, have acquired the song catalog of lyricists Alan & Marilyn Bergman, whose work has been recorded by Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Michael Jackson and many others.

Terms of the deal weren't disclosed. The catalog, which previously was administered by Warner/Chappell, includes more than 300 songs co-written by the Bergmans, who have penned lyrics for some of the best-known songs in America during their 50-year career.

Songs included in the deal are Sinatra's "Nice N Easy," Fred Astaire's "That Face," the Streisand/Neil Diamond duet "You Don't Bring Me Flowers," Jackson's "Someone in the Dark," Sergio Mendes' "Like a Lover" and "Yellow Bird," and holiday perennial "A Christmas Love Song."

The deal also includes songs from such motion pictures as "Tootsie" ("It Might Be You"), "A Star Is Born" ("I Believe in Love"), "Sabrina" ("Moonlight") and "Yentl" ("Papa Can You Hear Me," "The Way He Makes Me Feel") as well as the themes from TV shows like "Good Times" and "Maude." The Bergmans' musical collaborators have included Michel Legrand, Marvin Hamlisch, Dave Grusin, Henry Mancini, Johnny Mandel, John Williams, Quincy Jones and James Newton Howard.

The Bergmans have also signed an exclusive, long-term worldwide administration agreement with Spirit, covering other past works and new compositions, including their collaboration with the late Cy Coleman on the Kennedy Center-commissioned song cycle, "Up Close and Musical"; "Trust Me," the end-title song to the 2009 Matt Damon movie "The Informant!"; and new songs written for a planned revival of the 1978 Broadway musical "Ballroom," which was based on the couple's 1975 made-for-TV dramatic musical, "Queen of the Stardust Ballroom."

"With the passing of Cy Coleman, (the Bergmans) are among the last living writers of the Great American Songbook era," Spirit Music president/CEO Mark Fried says. "They are still incredibly active, too, and focused on songcraft."

The Bergmans, who have collaborated since the mid-'50s and have been married since 1958, have won three Academy Awards and two Grammys, among other accolades. Marilyn Bergman also spent 15 years as president and chairman of the performing rights organization the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). She retired from her post in 2009 but still serves on the ASCAP board.

The Bergman acquisition continues Spirit's interest in songs written by veteran songwriters. Fried, a former executive at BMI, says he was motivated to launch Spirit in 1995 after hearing from veteran songwriters who told him they were concerned that the major publishing companies were becoming too big and hit-oriented to focus on their song catalogs.

Other acquisitions in recent years have included a majority interest in the publishing rights of record producer James William Guercio; the complete catalogs of blues/R&B songwriter Ferdinand "Fats" Washington and writer/producer Rick Nowels, which includes more than 40 charted hits for such artists as Madonna, Belinda Carlisle and Jewel; and the trademark rights and complete post-1972 publishing and master catalog for Marc Bolan and T. Rex.