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Deals with writers boost MCA Music

MCA Music Publishing posted record-breaking U.S. revenues last year, benefiting from deals with songwriters and producer-songwriters signed to the label, many of whom are seeing their first big hits.

“We’re seeing the success of our ongoing policy of developing writers instead of being dependent on bands,” said John McKellen, president of MCA Music Publishing. “When you invest in bands, you have all your eggs in one basket. Here we’ve cultivated a lot of relationships, and it’s paid off.”

The publisher also doubled its presence in multiplatinum pop albums, appearing on 17 of the million-plus selling discs, up from last year’s eight. MCA also was represented in 12 platinum and 20 gold-selling albums.

Writers behind the hits on some of the years’ biggest-selling albums, such as “The Bodyguard,” Meat Loaf’s “Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell” and Aerosmith’s “Get a Grip” contributed to the tally while delivering a slew of Grammy noms for the scribes.

Songwriter Allan Rich earned his first Oscar and Grammy nom for Whitney Houston’s “Run to You” off “The Bodyguard” soundtrack, joining the success of fellow scribes Taylor Rhodes and Mark Hudson, who penned Aerosmith’s charting singles “Cryin”‘ and “Livin on the Edge.”

The company further benefitted from a presence on some of the year’s biggest albums, including pairing its writers with multiplatinum artists like Rod Stewart and Madonna, deals which McKellen said are the backbone of a successful publishing company.

The company’s strong pop presence was matched only by its prominence in country music, capitalizing on having writers behind cuts from such genre stalwarts as George Strait, Wynonna and Alan Jackson. MCA scored songs in three multiplatinum, seven platinum and seven gold discs.

The division standout appears to be MCA-signed scribe Gary Burr who landed three No. 1 singles and shared writer listings on chart-topping discs from Garth Brooks, Lorrie Morgan and Reba McEntire.

“When you handle writers and writer-producers,” said McKellen, “you give them support and treasure their creative presence. We think last year showed if you work like a publishing company of the good old days, the success will be there far more often than if you just buy copyrights.”

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