Beatles song catalogue deal nets Jackson pounds 65m

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The Independent Online

Arts Correspondent

Sony Music has paid around pounds 65m to the American superstar Michael Jackson for joint ownership of The Beatles songs catalogue, making it the third largest music publisher in the world.

The record company is already the licensing agent for Beatles merchandising, a role it acquired a few months ago. And it now stands to make millions from renewed interest in The Beatles.

With the Beatles Anthology television series about to be broadcast, and the release of a double CD imminent, the deal could not have come at a better time for Sony. One insider said last night: "If you can't have The Beatles, the next best things are the copyright to all their songs and the merchandising."

Money will now be paid to Sony every time a Beatles record is played, even though The Beatles' own record company is Sony's rival, EMI.

Earlier this week, the surviving Beatles attacked Jackson for using their work in adverts. George Harrison was quoted as saying: "Unless we do something about it, every Beatles song is going to end up advertising bras and pork pies." And Paul McCartney said that Jackson had "cheapened" the songs released. Sony already have the publishing rights for songs by Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen.

Michael Jackson bought the rights to 250 Beatles' songs a decade ago for pounds 30m, outbidding Paul McCartney.

t Paul McCartney was last night the first rock star to be awarded Britain's top music honour, the Fellowship of the Royal College of Music, putting him in the same company as Vaughan Williams, Benjamin Britten and Gustav Holst.

The former Beatle was to receive the prestigious Fellowship from the Prince of Wales. Prince Charles said the award was "in recognition of the remarkable talents of Paul McCartney and for all that he has done for music this century".

McCartney, one of the most successful songwriters of the century, is currently working on an orchestral work commissioned by EMI to mark its centenary next year.

His first classical piece was the Liverpool Oratorio which received its world premiere in 1991 in the city's Anglican Cathedral.

McCartney has also written a solo piano piece, A Leaf, which was premiered for Prince Charles at St James's Palace.

Last night's presentation ceremony was held at the Royal College of Music in London.

Liverpool-born McCartney has become a multi-millionaire and a pop legend from his songwriting partnership with John Lennon.