Paul McCartney Wants His Songs Back. But Can He Afford Them?

Back in the 1960s, the Beatles’ finances were a mess. Mismanagement led to the selling of the publishing rights to a huge chunk of the band’s catalogue, something that angers Paul McCartney to this day.  The debacale taught him that owning the rights to intellectual and artist content like songs was important, not to mention potentially insanely profitable.McCartney used his Beatles and solo earnings to buy up song catalogues. Guess, for example, who owns the rights to all of Buddy Holly’s songs?

When he became friends with Michael Jackson, he advised Jacko to do the same as a hedge against the fickleness of fame. Jackson took the advice seriously and when that old Beatles catalogue came up for sale, Michael outbid Macca for those rights.  That’s where some of the early profits of Thriller went.

Jackson held on to those Beatles songs until he ran into financial difficulty and began selling bits of the catalogue to Sony ATV, the music publishing arm of this record label.  By the time he died, Sony owned about 50%.

Now Sony’s having a bad run and is hoping to raise money by selling off its share of the Beatles back catalogue.  At stake is ownership of 251 Beatles songs.

Rumours are that Michael Jackson’s estate–flush with all the money that’s come in since Jacko’s death–is planning to make a big offer. McCartney would like to play in this game, too, but with a rumoured price of upwards of $1.3 billion, that’s probably too rich for him to go it alone.

This could get interesting.  Additional detail here.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

One thought on “Paul McCartney Wants His Songs Back. But Can He Afford Them?

  • January 7, 2015 at 8:52 am

    Macca’s problem is that is he is ‘nice’ and probably didn’t want to appear greedy back in tha day. He does have a ‘moral right’ in this case and I hope he gets what he is deserved. OJ and his Heisman however is another story


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