Yesterday Warner/Chappell Music, the publishing arm of Warner Music Group, announced deals with Jay-Z to administer the copyrights of both his own songs and those on the music publishing roster of his company, Roc Nation.
Warner/Chappell will immediately begin administering Jay-Z’s catalog stretching back to 2008; by the end of 2013, it will handle the bulk of his early career hits as well. The publisher will also now administer copyrights for Roc Nation’s stable of songwriters, including Philip Lawrence (co-writer of Bruno Mars’ “Grenade” and “Locked Out of Heaven”) and S1 (co-writer of Kanye West’s “Power” and Beyoncé’s “Best Thing I Never Had”).
Part of the reason that Jay-Z chose Warner/Chappell was his connection to publishing executive Jon Platt, who left EMI Music Publishing for Warner last year. The duo first worked together in 1996, the year Jay-Z released his debut album, Reasonable Doubt.
“The real meaning of success is being in the position to work with an individual you consider a friend,” Jay-Z said in a statement. “Jon Platt is such a person. He’s a man of extraordinary character as well as a remarkably talented executive with an ear for music and an eye for talent. It’s great to watch him grow to be one the best in the business.”
Added Platt: “I couldn’t be happier to continue my relationships with Jay and Roc Nation and build on our partnerships at Warner/Chappell. We have the global expertise and resources to deliver new opportunities for their amazing catalogs, while helping them reach new heights of success around the world.”
Platt became more familiar with Jay-Z’s songwriting skills at EMI, which was home to his copyrights until now. As I wrote in 2010, the rapper’s previous agreement had long been set to expire this year, giving him plenty of time to plot his next step.
But there’s another set of rights headed Jay-Z’s way quite soon. As I wrote in my book Empire State of Mind: How Jay-Z Went From Street Corner to Corner Office, the rapper negotiated the return of the master recordings to all the music he made while at Def Jam as part of an agreement to become president of the label in 2004.
The catch: he’d have to wait 10 years. Ironically, the opportunity to own his masters was what convinced him to take the Def Jam gig over a similar job at Warner Music Group. Now, his career has come full circle.
By the end of 2014, he’ll be in full control of both his master recordings and publishing rights—meaning that every time someone buys one of his albums, streams one of his hits online or licenses his song for a movie, he’ll get a considerably larger piece of the pie. Not bad for someone who already made $38 million last year.
For Warner/Chappell, Jay-Z’s deals might be part of an even bigger package. Rumor has it that Platt is in negotiations to bring Beyoncé’s publishing to Warner/Chappell as well.
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