Who Owns Lennon McCartney Songs?
The legendary songwriting partnership of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, commonly known as Lennon-McCartney, has produced some of the most iconic and influential songs in the history of popular music. The question of who owns the rights to these songs is one that has intrigued fans and industry insiders alike. In this article, we will take a closer look at the ownership of Lennon-McCartney songs and address some common questions surrounding this topic.
Lennon and McCartney started writing together in the late 1950s and continued their collaboration until the band’s breakup in 1970. Together, they composed timeless hits such as “Hey Jude,” “Let It Be,” “Yesterday,” and “A Hard Day’s Night,” among many others. These songs have become classic anthems that have been covered by countless artists and continue to resonate with audiences to this day.
1. Who owns the rights to Lennon-McCartney songs?
The rights to Lennon-McCartney songs are primarily owned by the music publishing company, Sony/ATV Music Publishing. In 1969, Northern Songs, the original publishing company that held the rights to the songs, was acquired by ATV Music Publishing. Eventually, ATV was bought by Michael Jackson in 1985, and in 1995, Sony merged with Jackson’s ATV to create Sony/ATV Music Publishing.
2. Did John Lennon and Paul McCartney sell the rights to their songs?
In 1969, Lennon and McCartney made the decision to sell their shares in Northern Songs, the publishing company that owned their catalog. They had little control over the sale due to financial and legal circumstances at the time.
3. Why did Lennon and McCartney sell their song rights?
Lennon and McCartney sold their song rights primarily due to financial reasons. The Beatles’ business manager, Allen Klein, advised them to sell their shares in Northern Songs to generate immediate cash flow. The decision was controversial and strained the relationship between the band members.
4. How much did Lennon and McCartney receive for their song rights?
Lennon and McCartney received approximately £3 million each for their shares in Northern Songs. However, it’s worth noting that this amount was significantly less than what their catalog would be worth today.
5. Did Michael Jackson own the Lennon-McCartney songs?
Yes, Michael Jackson acquired ATV Music Publishing, which owned the rights to the Lennon-McCartney songs, in 1985. Jackson’s ownership of these songs caused some tension between him and McCartney, as Jackson outbid McCartney in the acquisition.
6. What happened to Michael Jackson’s stake in the Lennon-McCartney songs?
In 1995, Michael Jackson merged ATV Music Publishing with Sony, creating Sony/ATV Music Publishing. As part of the deal, Jackson retained a 50% stake in the company. However, due to financial difficulties, Jackson had to sell parts of his stake over the years. In 2016, his remaining share was sold to Sony for $750 million.
7. Does Paul McCartney still make money from Lennon-McCartney songs?
Yes, Paul McCartney still earns money from the Lennon-McCartney songs. As one of the original songwriters, he is entitled to receive royalties for the performance and licensing of these songs.
8. Can Paul McCartney perform Lennon-McCartney songs without permission?
As a co-writer of the Lennon-McCartney songs, Paul McCartney does not need permission to perform them. However, if he were to record a new version or use the songs in a film or commercial, he would need to seek permission from the copyright holders.
9. Can anyone cover Lennon-McCartney songs?
Yes, anyone can cover Lennon-McCartney songs by obtaining the necessary licenses. The copyright holders, Sony/ATV Music Publishing, administer the licensing for these songs.
10. Can the Lennon-McCartney songs be sold?
The Lennon-McCartney songs can be sold, but any potential sale would require the agreement of the copyright holders, Sony/ATV Music Publishing.
11. Will the Lennon-McCartney songs ever enter the public domain?
Under current copyright laws, the Lennon-McCartney songs will not enter the public domain until at least 70 years after the death of the last surviving songwriter or copyright holder. Therefore, it will be several decades before these songs become part of the public domain.
In conclusion, the rights to Lennon-McCartney songs are primarily owned by Sony/ATV Music Publishing, with Paul McCartney still earning royalties as one of the original songwriters. The complex history of the ownership of these songs involves the sale of shares, acquisitions, and financial difficulties. While the songs themselves have become part of the musical fabric of our society, their ownership remains in the hands of the publishing company.