Cherry Lane Music Publishing Company, Inc. History
New York, New York 10016
Telephone: (212) 561-3000
Fax: (212) 683-2040
Sales: $26 million (2002 est.)
NAIC: 512230 Music Publishers; 511120 Periodical Publishers; 511190 Other Publishers; 711130 Musical Groups and Artists
We built our reputation, and an impressive list of credits, through careful cultivation of relationships within the music, film, and television communities. As an administrator, we have a record of unsurpassed meticulousness and diligence in the collection of income and protection of our clients' copyrights. We also work proactively to exploit our properties through our associations with producers, directors, music supervisors, record companies, commercial production companies, and trailer houses.
- Milton Theodore Okun founds company in Port Chester, New York.
- Alfred Publishing becomes the distributor for Cherry Lane's print music products.
- CEO Peter Primont hires Aida Gurwicz as company's senior vice-president.
- Company contracts with Hal Leonard Publishing, the world's largest print music publisher, to distribute its entire catalogue worldwide.
- New offices are established in Manhattan; Aida Gurwicz becomes president of Cherry Lane.
- The company creates a new division, Cherry Lane Licensing LLC.
Through its four divisions, Cherry Lane Music Publishing Company, Inc., publishes music in print, owns and administers publishing rights for a large catalog of music, transfers music from analog to digital form, and publishes such music industry trade journals as Guitar and Home Recording. Cherry Lane has business relationships with a host of songwriters, production companies, and other clients that include sports programming and children's programming companies. The company administers publishing rights for a wide array of songwriters including John Denver, Harry Belafonte, Lenny Kravitz, and the R&B/Hip-Hop group The Black Eyed Peas. In the 1990s, the company began aggressive efforts to expand is presence through new partnerships, joint ventures, and co-publishing relationships a variety of media, including television and film production companies; Latin and other minority songwriters, artists, and companies; sports entities; and children's programming.
Cherry Lane was founded in 1960 by musicologist and composer Milton Theodore Okun. Born in Brooklyn in 1923, Okun became interested in music at a young age. He received his Bachelor of Music Education at New York University (NYU) in 1949, and then received a Master of Music Education at Oberlin Conservatory of Music in 1951. After graduation, he became a singer and guitarist for record companies. When he founded Cherry Lane in Port Chester, New York, one of his earliest clients was John Denver, for whom he was a mentor. Other early musical credits included arranging and producing records for the Chad Mitchell Trio; Peter, Paul, and Mary; and Placido Domingo. He was also music director for the Brothers Four, Mary Travers, Peter Yarrow, the Starland Vocal Band, and Harry Belafonte.
Okun was the author of Something to Sing About (1968), and was editor for several New York Times song books, including the New York Times Great Songs of the Sixties (1970 & Volume 2, 1974); New York Times Great Songs of Lennon and McCartney (1973), New York Times Country Music's Greatest Songs (1978), and New York Times Great Songs of the 70's (1978). He was also an arranger and editor for the New York Times Great Songs of Abba (1980), and The Complete Beatles (1981) among other musical accomplishments. In all, Okun garnered 75 Gold and Platinum records and 16 Grammy nominations.
During Cherry Lane's early days, the company focused mainly on collecting royalties and copyright payments for songwriters. The company eventually developed unique proprietary systems called Income Trackers to oversee royalty statements and payments received from any number of sources, including mechanical rights and performance rights societies, co-publishers, sub-publishers, direct licensees, and record companies. Income Trackers handled shortfalls or delays in payments via a "collection" function, and the company maintained the services of such entities as Tribune Media Services and Essential Television Services to provide factual proof of broadcasts in order to track down any payment shortfalls.
Aggressive Expansion in the 1990s
Until the 1990s, Cherry Lane's primary work continued to be collecting royalties and payments for a roster of songwriting artists, from Mozart to Metallica. New management, however, would expand the scope of the operation. In 1986, Peter Primont, a graduate of the New York Institute of Technology, joined the company as president, eventually rising to the position of CEO. In 1990, Aida Gurwicz joined the company as senior vice-president. Gurwicz, holding degrees from Temple University and NYU, accepted her first musical publishing job as head of the Foreign Department at Carl Fischer, Inc., a publisher of classical music. During the next ten years, she rose through the ranks to become senior vice-president of that firm. In 1990, she was approached by Peter Primont and was offered a position as the growing company's senior vice-president. Gurwicz accepted and rose to the office of president in 1998. Under her leadership, Cherry Lane began to aggressively pursue new musical business ventures and partnerships. In 1993, the company signed an agreement with Hal Leonard Publishing, the world's largest print music publisher, to distribute Cherry Lane's catalog worldwide. In 1998, the company moved its headquarters from Port Chester to Manhattan.
Gurwicz worked to develop a number of new relationships, among them partnerships with feature film and television producers. Acquisitions included owning and placing original music for both movies and TV, and exploiting the same for other uses. Cherry Lane also began efforts to create new music for a number of cable and network movies, including "Movies of the Week", a variety of televised sports programs and events, and children's programming.
In May 2001, Cherry Lane signed a worldwide co-publishing deal with Toronto-based Attack Records and Filmworks. The music deal allowed Cherry Lane to showcase the independent record and music publishing company's diverse roster of urban, pop, and rock acts while also promoting and protecting the music of flourishing Canadian artists and songwriters, including Sicboy, Hope Springs Eternal, Love/Candy, Kai Blackwood, and Blasternaut. President of Attack Records, Mark Berry, was nominated for Grammy and Juno productions and engineering and mixing credits for albums by Billy Idol, Boy George, David Bowie, Duran Duran, Voivoid, and Yes, among others. In all, he garnered more than 30 international Gold and Platinum records to his production and mixing credits. As a result of the co-publishing deal with Cherry Lane, Attack Records' roster would be part of the music publishing company's expanding catalogue.
Later that year, Cherry Lane announced another worldwide publishing deal, this one with Icon Productions. Founded by Mel Gibson and his business partner, Bruce Davey, Icon Productions was established in 1989. The Icon company had produced such film greats as Hamlet, Maverick, Forever Young, The Man Without a Face, Immortal Beloved, and the epic, Braveheart, which won Academy Awards in 1995 for Best Picture and Best Director (Mel Gibson). Icon also launched a record label called Icon Records, with releases that included soundtracks to the Icon films, Anna Karenina, Fairy Tale: A True Story, and 187. The agreement allowed Cherry Lane to represent Icon's diverse catalogue of motion picture scores by composers that included James Horner, Alan Silvestri, and Stewart Copeland.
Also in 2001, Cherry Lane entered into an exclusive co-publishing agreement with Urbanworld Films. Stacy Spikes, former executive with Miramax and October Films, founded the Urbanworld Film Festival in 1997. Based in New York, the event became the largest display for minority films in the U.S., and presented a number of movie hits, including Soul Food and How Stella Got Her Groove Back. Drawing on the success of the festival, Urbanworld Films began releasing minority films that targeted African American, Asian, and Latin audiences. Titles from its 2001/2002 movies included The Visit, King of the Jungle, Higher Ed, and Fidel. Dan "The Automator" Nakamura, co-producer of Gorillaz, one of the biggest hit albums of 2001, wrote a score for King of the Jungle. The deal with Cherry Lane allowed the music publishing company to administer existing music and create new music for minority films from Urbanworld Films. Cherry Lane also became a creative partner, making it possible to share its catalogue of source music and extensive roster of composers with the film company.
Another agreement in 2001 was Cherry Lane's co-publishing deal with major Canadian film and television producer, Kevin Gillis. The deal gave Cherry Lane rights to promote and increase recognition for Gillis' works. Gillis was producer, creator, director, and head writer for the hit family television series, The Raccoons, shown in more than 180 countries. He also produced the animated theatrical feature, The Nutcracker Prince, with voices of Kiefer Sutherland and Peter O'Toole; and was producer of Jeff Healey's television documentary, See the Light. Gillis also collaborated with a number of other songwriters, including Joe Walsh of The Eagles.
Among other work, Gillis produced the animated series, Eckhart, and I Was a Rat, a family movie of the week based on the 1999 children's book of the same name by author Philip Pullman. Other children's and family projects included the feature film, Larsonia; an animated series; Seaside Hotel; and KidsWorld Sports, a show he co-produced with Clear Channel, WETA (Washington PBS affiliate), Canwest Global TV in Canada, Breakthrough Films, and Run With Us Productions. The latter show, with a focus on youth and sports around the world, allowed children with obstacles such as economic struggles, physical handicaps, cultural differences, or family pressures to participate in sports events. In addition, Gillis developed a feature film with the Canadian Broadcast Corporation (CBC) of The Raccoons. The exclusive agreement with Cherry Lane allowed the music publishing company the right to increase recognition of Gillis's large volume of work worldwide.
2002 and Beyond: New Media Opportunities
In January 2002, Cherry Lane created a joint marketing and publishing agreement with the Collections division of the AFMA (formerly known as the American Film Marketing Association). The deal was set to promote the services of both companies. The AFMA had long been known as one of the most prestigious trade associations for the independent film and television industry. AMFA member independent film and television companies crafted some of the most acclaimed and popular films of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, including The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring; In the Bedroom; Monster's Ball; Pulp Fiction; Driving Miss Daisy; Four Weddings and a Funeral; Life is Beautiful; Shakespeare in Love; The Silence of the Lambs; Terminator 2: Judgment Day; and Traffic, to name just a few. Under the joint agreement, Cherry Lane would promote the services of both companies, including collection of auto/video and music publishing royalties worldwide. Also under the agreement, AFMA members would receive licensing fees and music royalties for television and radio. In some markets, members would also receive music royalties for theatrical use of their products worldwide, and members would retain 100 percent ownership of the copyright for their music.
In September 2002, Cherry Lane and 4Kids Entertainment Music announced another partnership, this one for the release of Yu-Gi-Oh! Music to Duel By on DreamWorks Records. The new partnership would complement the highly popular Yu-Gi-Oh! card and video games from Konami, and toys from Mattel. 4Kids Entertainment, Inc., a company dedicated to the best in entertainment for children, had headquarters in New York City, and international offices in London.
The high-energy music for Yu-G-Oh!: Music to Duel By was the result of a collaboration between Norman Grossfeld, president of 4Kids Productions and John Siegler, 4Kids Music Supervisor, along with a group of established New York-based songwriters, composers, producers, studio musicians, and actors. The musical relationship between Cherry Lane and 4Kids had begun with the Pokemon phenomenon in November 1997. When Yu-Gi-Oh! was introduced, it became a cultural phenomenon, and a lifestyle that excited kids. The Yu-Gi-Oh! album was the result of this rising interest. The new partnership between Cherry Lane and 4Kids Entertainment Music would showcase the audio accompaniment to the popular 'dueling' card game that had generated a successful animated TV series, and a multitude of collectible merchandise.
In 2003, Cherry Lane added several partnerships, joint ventures, and agreements to its growing list. In January, Cherry Lane and Tu Casa Entertainment (Your Home Entertainment) announced plans to create a joint venture company called Cherry Casa Music Publishing, to sign and develop Latin songwriters and artists. Cherry Lane also agreed to administer the company's compositions worldwide. Maribel Schumacher, founder and president of Tu Casa, represented and managed artists, and supervised film and television music and music publishing at the multi-level company. Her business history included launching Spain's first independent label, pioneering Latin rock music in the U.S., setting up Warner Latina's South American operations, and becoming VP of Marketing for Warner Music Latin America.
The joint venture helped both companies move forward to foster career development and create a roster of strong Latin singers and songwriters. Cherry Lane's administration, which also extended to film and television productions, would allow Cherry Casa to place the work of Latin artists in a large number of media projects. In the marketing arena, the company's involvement with contemporary Latin music would allow exposure in recordings, film, television, and commercials, and allow Cherry Lane to develop a large amount of work with appeal to an international market.
The Cherry Casa unit signed its first Latin songwriter and producer, Roberto Blades, in May 2003. Grammy winner and frequent nominee, Blades had earned songwriting credits for seven number one Latin singles, including Marc Anthony's hits, "Dimelo (I Need to Know)" and "Muy Dentro de Mi (You Sang to Me)". Blades had also worked with Gloria and Emilio Estefan, among other Latin artists.
Cherry Lane also entered into several partnerships with important sports entities. In February, the company announced plans to join forces with Professional Bull Riders (PBR). The partnership created Cherry Bull, a company dedicated to developing new music and recordings associated with PBR events. Because bull riding had become one of the fastest growing spectator sports in television ratings and stadium attendance, and because music was an important part of its sporting events, the relationship with Cherry Lane was designed to create new and exciting themes that would bring the music into a broader audience base.
PBR shows were broadcast on NBC Sports, Outdoor Life Network (OLN), and the Spanish-language station, Telemundo, in Australia, Canada, Sweden, and Russia. With Cherry Lane helping to present original music for its sports and entertainment properties, one of the first items on the Cherry Bull agenda was a new theme song. Composed by Guy Thomas, a writer with Cherry Lane who had worked previously with Carly Simon, Kenny Loggins, and Kenny Rogers, among other artists, the country tune created by Thomas made its TV debut on NBC in February. In addition, new music was composed for riders competing in the events. Music was even created for the bulls. Cherry Lane would also administer the company's compositions.
Cherry Lane also entered into a worldwide publishing and administration agreement with NFL Films for compositions and master recordings. NFL Films had set a standard for sports music for a generation, and had created a library of material instantly recognizable to a huge fan base. Cherry Lane's vision was for the NFL Films brand to be recognizable in various spheres of the music business. Because of the new relationship, long-time NFL fans and music lovers alike would be able to experience the musical results of this joint venture.
NFL Films had begun its operations in 1964 to provide excellence in sports filmmaking. It soon became the standard for providing outstanding cinematography and moving orchestral music to accompany poignant storytelling. In its 40+ year history, the company won 82 Emmy awards and became the most honored filmmaker in sports. During the 2003 season, NFL Films opened a new 200,000 square foot, high-tech television and film production facility in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey, where it began operating as one of the last self-contained, Hollywood-style studios. The production facility produced and distributed more than 400 hours of new NFL programming for broadcast and cable networks, NFL.com home videos, CD-ROMs, and DVDs.
The new partnership between NFL Films and Cherry Lane helped to create a series of musical compilation albums featuring songs from well-known hip-hop, rock, and pop musical artists. The recordings included NFL Films track remixes, along with new music created by NFL Films composers, Dave Robidoux and Tom Hedden. Use of the new NFL Films studio in New Jersey was part of the recording plan, with the albums released on NFL Records and launched along with major NFL events that included Training Camp, Draft Weekend, and the annual Super Bowl. Synchronization of efforts offered cross-promotional opportunities with recording artists and NFL sponsors, and gave even more avenues of exposure for NFL Records and the music.
In May 2003, Cherry Lane formed a relationship with the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR). The partnership between Cherry Lane and NASCAR created Motor Music, a company designed to develop original music and sound recordings to identify and communicate the sounds of NASCAR. Motor Music offered complete services in music production and publishing to NASCAR's business partners, including sport teams, drivers, tracks, licensees, broadcast and video production partners, sponsors, and international television and entertainment projects. Cherry Lane administered the compositions and master recordings worldwide.
The first task of Motor Music was to create compositions for a complete catalogue of NASCAR-themed music that would express the excitement, drama, and thrill of NASCAR racing. Other projects would use commercial recordings to help extend the NASCAR brand into mainstream entertainment and wider audience recognition. In February 2004, Motor Music announced the debut of NASCAR's theme song, "Thunder," composed by David Robidoux and mixed by Alan Meyerson.
Around this same time, Cherry Lane also made a deal with the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) to administrate and/or co-publish music for a variety of wrestling programs and events that included Raw, SmackDown!, Heat, and After Burn, to name just a few.
On the contemporary music scene, in June 2003, Cherry Lane made a worldwide co-publishing agreement with R&B/Hip-Hop band, the Black Eyed Peas. The deal covered musical rights to the groups' Elephunk album that was released on A&M Records. The Black Eyed Peas single, "Where Is the Love?" featuring Justin Timberlake, had risen quickly on the charts and was released overseas to excited fans. The success of the single, and the release of the Elephunk record, helped the group earn an opening slot on the 2003 Justified and Stripped tour, headlined by Timberlake and Christina Aguilera. The Peas also appeared on the debut broadcast of WB's "Pepsi Smash." The deal helped Cherry Lane's efforts to diversify its client roster, and gave the band new opportunities via increased exposure from the record.
With its continuing efforts to create new and exciting co-publishing partnerships and administration agreements, its ongoing efforts to collect royalties and payments for standard and new releases, and its work to place old and new songs in innovative music for television and film, the company's future seemed secure.
Principal Divisions: Cherry Lane Music Publishing Company Inc.; Cherry Lane Licensing, LLC; Cherry Lane Digital LLC; Cherry Lane Magazines LLC; Cherry Lane Music Company (Print).
Principal Operating Units: Publishing, Print, Digital, Magazines.
Principal Competitors: Universal Music Publishing Company; EMI Music Publishing.
- "Cherry Lane Commitment to Music Education," Music Trades, November 2000, p. 49.
- "Hal Leonard to Distribute Cherry Lane," Music Trades, January 1993, p. 136.
- Lichtman, Irv, "Cherry Lane And OneHouse Form Alliance To Do Digital-Biz Consulting," Billboard, July 31, 1999, p. 47.
- ------, "Cherry Lane, Peermusic Link in Deals," Billboard, November 14, 1998, p. 6.
- ------, "Cherry Lane Takes Manhattan," Billboard, June 20, 1998, p. 101.
- Marden, Lori, "Home Recording (New Magazines)," Folio: The Magazine for Magazine Management, March 15, 1998, p. 23.
Source: International Directory of Company Histories, Vol.62. St. James Press, 2004.