John Branca gives some insight into his experience buying and selling music copyrights
John Branca: So, we started out, and one day, I found out that the Beatles catalog was called ATV music, had Little Richard, The Beatles. So, I called up Michael and I said, “You know, ATV’s for sale.” “What’s that?” I said, “The Beatles.: So, he went crazy. And it took us a year to get that catalog, took a lot of strategic planning, because the man who was selling it never kept his word. So, we finally had to, you know, pull a couple dirty tricks out of our hat to get the deal done.
But, good example of things that come up. We owned these 2 songs called Runaround Sue and The Wanderer by Dion and the Belmonts. And under the old Copyright Act, you had to renew after 28 years. And if you didn’t renew, you lost the copyright. So, I got a call from the chairman of the Warner Publishing Company saying, “You know, we screwed up.” “What do you mean?” “We forgot to renew one of Michael’s copyrights.” I said, “No, that’s not good.” And he said, “Well, we’ll write a check.” And I said that this man, Les Bider, I said, “Look, Michael doesn’t need money; Thriller.” “Well, what can we do?” And I said, “You can sell him copyrights.”
So, they gave me the computer printout, went through every copyright in that company, and we bought these amazing songs that we own to this day. People Get Ready by Curtis Mayfield, When A Man Loves A Woman by Percy Sledge, I mean, just 2 or 3 Ray Charles, like 25 of these songs. So, it was the… and we bought them under market to make up for the fact that they lost the copyright. So, it was stuff like that that, to me, was the most exciting because like you got to connect with your client where you have a mutual love of music.