BMG buys control of Chess Records publishing company ARC

BMG has acquired a majority interest in the ARC Music publishing catalogue, originally founded in 1948 by the Chess brothers Leonard and Phil Chess as the music publishing counterpart of their Chess Records label.

BMG made the acquisition from Fuji Music Group (FMG).

The ARC repertoire includes many of the greats of US blues and rock ‘n’ roll, including songs made famous by Chuck Berry, The Beach Boys (pictured), Bo Diddley, Howlin’ Wolf and John Lee Hooker.

ARC Music holds the rights to some of the most well-known American music of the past five decades including blues and rock n’ roll songs such as ‘Surfin’ USA’, ‘Johnny B. Goode’, ‘See You Later Alligator’, ‘Book Of Love’ and ‘Roll Over Beethoven’.

Following the deal BMG and FMG have agreed they will work together to ‘explore additional opportunities with the intention of creating a portfolio of evergreen copyrights’.

BMG already publishes songs from the classic American songbook by the likes of Willie Dixon, plus much of the Johnny Cash catalogue. Last year it acquired rights in the Buddy Holly estate controlled by the star’s widow, Maria Elena Holly.

“Both culturally and commercially, this is one of the most significant acquisitions in the development of BMG so far.”

Hartwig Masuch, BMG

BMG and FMG have a long-running relationship.

FMG’s affiliate, Fujipacific Music, administers BMG’s catalogue in Japan and Southeast Asia, while BMG administers FMG’s catalogue in the rest of the world.

FMG will continue to handle administration for the catalogue in Japan and Southeast Asia.

BMG CEO Hartwig Masuch said, “The Chess brothers and their successors brought blues and rock ‘n’ roll to the world.

“The artists and songwriters they discovered still resonate through the decades. Both culturally and commercially, the acquisition of this majority stake in ARC is one of the most significant acquisitions in the development of BMG so far.”

Laurent Hubert, President of Creative and Marketing at BMG commented, “The ARC catalog represents timeless music that is a centerpiece of American culture.  We are pleased to join forces with Fuji and deepen our relationship with them in Japan and Southeast Asia to bring these songs new life across the globe.”

Ichiro Asatsuma, Chairman of Fuji Music Group commented, “I am confident that this partnership with BMG will not only increase the commercial value of the ARC songs, but also strengthen the cultural legacy the catalog represents.”

Hico Koike, President of Fuji Music Group added, “FMG and BMG share the same philosophies in maximizing exposure for music.  With our combined global resources we look forward to expanded business opportunities for the catalog.”

Selected highlights from the Arc catalogue include:

  • ‘I’m A Man’ (made famous by Bo Diddley, The Yardbirds)
  • ‘Johnny B. Goode’ (Chuck Berry)
  • ‘Roll Over Beethoven’ (Chuck Berry)
  • ‘No Particular Place To Go’ (Chuck Berry)
  • ‘Surfin’ USA’ (The Beach Boys)
  • ‘Mannish Boy’ (Muddy Waters, The Band)
  • ‘Susie-Q’ (Creedence Clearwater Revival)
  • ‘See You Later Alligator’ (Billy Haley & The Comets)
  • ‘Road Runner’ (Bo Diddley, The Animals, The Zombies, Aerosmith, The Who)
  • ‘Smokestack Lightning’ (Howlin’ Wolf, Cream)   
  • ‘At The Hop’ (Danny & The Juniors)
  • I’d Rather Go Blind’ (Etta James)

Music Business Worldwide

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