Duo pact for tunes

The Jim Henson Co. and New York-based publishing entity Spirit Music Group have formed a joint venture in which the companies will co-own and co-publish songs, scores and soundtracks from Henson’s future output of film, television and Web-based programming, while Spirit will also administer and promote Henson’s back catalog.

The deal, announced by Henson Co. president/COO Peter Schube and Spirit president Mark Fried, covers Henson’s entire media library dating back 50 years, including such features as “Labyrinth” and “The Dark Crystal,” and TV shows “Fraggle Rock,” “Farscape,” “Mother Goose Stories” and “The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss.”

The pact, however, does not include the various properties associated with Henson signature franchise “The Muppets,” which was sold to Disney in 2004.

Spirit’s 20,000-song roster includes tunes made famous by Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Elvis Presley and Madonna written by the likes of Johnny Burke, Jerry Livingston and Marilyn and Alan Bergman, as well as the entire catalogs of such artists as Lou Reed, the Grateful Dead and Andrea Bocelli.

Under the partnership, Spirit will administer and repurpose Henson’s song library and related master recordings, with Spirit’s creative staff helping source songs, composers and both rising and veteran artists for Henson’s projects moving forward.

“This is really the first time that a music publishing company is being brought in to, in essence, be the studio’s music department and consult on all things music on a global basis,” Fried told Variety. “We’re hoping to be very impactful and also show the way for publishers and studios on how close interaction can lead to higher quality music across film and TV programming.”

Spirit said it has helped place songs in more than 75 feature films and 250 network and cable television series in the past year.

“For us, music publishing has historically been a largely passive business,” said Henson’s Schube in a statement. “Not anymore. We’re looking forward to breaking the mold with Spirit, leveraging the broad and complementary expertise of our combined staffs to create a robust platform to market our music everywhere our fans are.”

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