September 18, 2012 / 10:48 PM / in 5 years

Round Hill buying Katy Perry, Cee Lo, other song rights: source

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Music publisher Round Hill Music is expected to announce a deal to acquire the rights to a catalog of 150 songs, including hits by Katy Perry, Flo Rida, Bruno Mars and Cee Lo Green from Arthouse Entertainment LLC, a person close to the situation said.

Singer Katy Perry arrives for the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards in Los Angeles, September 6, 2012. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok

This source said a deal could be announced as soon as Wednesday morning, but declined to comment on its terms.

Late last year, Round Hill purchased the rights to a catalog of music containing six songs written and recorded by the Beatles including “She Loves You,” “I Saw Her Standing There,” and “I Wanna Be Your Man.”

Arthouse Entertainment was founded by record producer and former “American Idol” judge Kara DioGuardi and music publisher Stephen Finfer. Among the songs included in the catalog are: “Forget You,” by Cee Lo Green, “Just The Way You Are,” by Bruno Mars and “Club Can’t Handle Me,” by Flo Rida.

While record labels have struggled with declining CDs sales as a result of piracy and a shift to digital distribution, music publishing companies have gained in value because they collect revenue every time a song in played in any format since they control the underlying rights to the composition. In many cases these rights aren’t held by the artist, who actually performs the song, but rather the writers and producers who created it.

All of the major record labels - Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, Sony Music, and EMI - have publishing divisions, and a slew of independent companies such as Spirit Music Group and Primary Wave Music have cropped up in recent years to acquire the rights to song catalogs.

For instance, Primary Wave has in recent years acquired the rights to songs written by Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler and a consortium led by Sony/ATV agreed to buy EMI’s publishing division last year for $2.2 billion to bulk up in that area.

Former Bear Stearns investment banker Josh Gruss founded Round Hill Music last year and also served as its chairman and chief executive. Its vice chairman, Richard Rowe, formerly served as President of Sony/ATV Music Publishing. The source said Rowe was instrumental in luring DioGuardi and Finfer to Round Hill Music.

The stable of writers and producers featured in Arthouse’s catalog include Ari Levine to Kasia “KC” Livingston, who have written chart-topping and Grammy-winning hits such as Bruno Mars’ “Just The Way You Are,” and “Grenade.”

(This version of the story corrects the buyer and value of EMI’s publishing business.)

Reporting by Nadia Damouni; editing by Peter Lauria and Gunna Dickson

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