Keeping Faith! Warner Chappell Music Renews Publishing Deal with George Michael's Estate

Publisher Will Continue To Connect Legendary Songwriter’s Music With Fans Old And New Around The World


Warner Music Group

Warner Chappell Music UK has renewed its global deal with the estate of George Michael, the legendary singer-songwriter. The agreement will see the global publisher continue to curate and nurture the legacy of one of the world’s most respected and successful songwriters. The deal – which continues a partnership stretching back over four decades – covers both George Michael’s solo work, and the songs he wrote whilst a member of Wham!

Over the course of his career, George Michael sold more than 125 million records worldwide. He topped the charts in the US eight times and had seven Number One songs in the UK. He won six Ivor Novello Awards for his songwriting and also received three BRIT Awards and two Grammy Awards.

The deal renewal comes as Warner Chappell Music has been striking agreements with new partners, from Roblox to Peloton, to enable its songwriters to benefit from uses of music on these platforms. It’s also been expanding its global footprint, recently opening offices in cities such as Hanoi and Shanghai to tap into the fast-expanding Asia market. Such a strategic approach offers opportunities to introduce George Michael’s timeless classics to even more music fans.

Chris Organ, George Michael’s Lawyer and Co-Executor of the George Michael Estate said: “We are genuinely delighted that, after many months of detailed discussions and negotiations, we have renewed our longstanding association with WCM which started in the early ‘80s. We live in an age of sale and acquisition, and interest in, and competition for, this catalogue was fierce. George was a very loyal man who valued and nurtured long-term business relationships; but ultimately wanted to be remembered as a great songwriter. We strongly believe that his legacy as a songwriter, and the protection and enhancement of this stellar catalogue of songs, is best served by a traditional, hands-on day-to-day relationship with an established music publisher. Warner Chappell Music’s current structure and management is ideally suited to achieve those goals. We look forward to continuing our extremely successful relationship and, most importantly, to maintaining the status and integrity of George’s work for many generations to come.”

Guy Moot and Carianne Marshall, Co-Chairs of Warner Chappell Music, add: “George Michael is one of the greatest songwriters of all time. We all still miss his engaging personality, but he’s left the most incredible legacy in the form of his songs and performances. We take our responsibility to curate and promote his catalogue incredibly seriously, because even the greatest songs still need energetic champions.”

George Michael first found fame as a member of the duo Wham!, alongside Andrew Ridgeley. Their first two albums, Fantastic and Make It Big, topped the charts in both the US and UK and they had a string of global hits, including ‘Club Tropicana’, ‘Freedom’, ‘I’m Your Man’, ‘Last Christmas’, ‘The Edge of Heaven’ and ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go’. The duo were even invited to become the first ever Western pop group to perform in the People’s Republic of China.

Michael had also enjoyed parallel solo success with the singles ‘Careless Whisper’ and ‘A Different Corner’ and he left Wham! in 1986. His debut solo album, Faith, was released the following year and shot to Number One in the US and spent 12 weeks at the top of the chart, going on to win the Grammy for Album of the Year. He was also the only male British solo artist to have four US Number Ones from one album with ‘Faith’, ‘Father Figure’, ‘Monkey’ and ‘One More Try’.

The critically acclaimed Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 followed in 1990 and contained the singles ‘Cowboys and Angels’, ‘Freedom! 90’, ‘Heal The Pain’, ‘Praying for Time’ and ‘Waiting for That Day’. A series of singles followed over subsequent years, including ‘Too Funky’, ‘Jesus To A Child’ and ‘Fastlove’. Ladies & Gentlemen: The Best of George Michael was released in 1998, going to Number One in the UK for eight weeks and containing the new hits ‘As’ and ‘Outside’.

He released an album of classic covers, Songs from the Last Century, in 1999 followed by a further string of hit singles, such as ‘Freeek!’, ‘If I Told You That’ and ‘Shoot The Dog’. His fifth studio album, Patience, followed in 2003 and contained the hit singles ‘Amazing’ and ‘Flawless’. He began to tour heavily again and Symphonica, a live album, became his seventh solo Number One in the UK in 2014.

George Michael passed away in 2016. Five years later, propelled by heavy streaming volumes, Wham!’s classic festive hit ‘Last Christmas’ finally topped the UK charts, having been kept off the Number One spot in 1984 by Band Aid. His former bandmate Andrew Ridgley said it was “a testament to its timeless appeal and charm” and a “fitting tribute to George’s songwriting genius”.

December 17, 2021 12:05am ET by Pressparty  

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