Re: The Beatles. How did the Northern Songs idea work?

I was reading this and I am utterly confused how the whole Northern Songs thing worked. Part of the problem was the high tax rate in the UK but apparently the system set up didn’t really protect the Beatles from this. And while Lennon/McCartney kept their copyrights, it seems like they lost all of their other rights to their songs pretty much immediately. Part of my problem is I don’t understand how the recording industry work but it seems to me that Northern Songs was set up to make everyone else money off of the Beatles. I know Brian Epstein wasn’t a business man and the Beatles didn’t even read the contracts and so what were the Beatles getting out of the deal and why at such a high cost? And what exactly did the other owners of Northern Songs do to earn their stake in the company?

Most songwriters have music publishers who handle the business aspects of marketing their music: copyrights, licensing, etc. You can check out the names on any album; they all have a “published by” credit.

The Beatles got a bad deal from their publisher, but that was probably common at the time.

Brian Epstein was a business man.

Northern Songs was a publicly held company I think, meaning shares traded etc.

I stink at this stuff - hoping Biffy, Crotalus, or other Beatles Fan and musician Dopers can take a shot.

He was, but just not a good one.

When they Negotiated the toy rights, Epstein came into the room and the first thing he said was “We’ll take nothing less than 15%!” Toy rights at the time were around 40%* So he came in unprepared, and broke the first rule of negotiating: let the other person name the first figure.

*I don’t recall the exact numbers, but they’re in the ballpark.

True enough. He was in a new ballpark and it was just being built. I think it was even worse than that. He could’ve asked for 85% and got in it all likelihood. They needed a Peter Grant really.

On the other hand it created a real gold rush. It is interesting to consider what all those product makers and entrepreneurs printing their own money out of this added to the Beatles fame, and success.