Viacom sells Famous Music Viacom sells Famous Music

Viacom sells Famous Music


Well, there goes Popeye the Sailor Man, It’s A Hap-Hap Happy Day and Casper The Friendly Ghost. Not the characters (they were sold off years ago), but the theme songs and music from 80 years of Paramount Pictures. Viacom announced today the sale of Famous Music to Sony/ATV.

“This is a milestone event for Sony/ATV Music Publishing,” said Michael Jackson (yes, that Michael Jackson. He co owns Sony/ATV). In addition to all the Fleischer and Famous Studios cartoon themes (which include Superman, Little Audrey and Herman and Katnip’s Skiddle Diddle Dee) the Famous Music catalogue includes 125,000 songs, including themes from The Brady Bunch and Star Trek, songs from Broadway shows such as A Chorus Line and The Producers, and hundreds of pop tunes and Academy Award winning soundtracks.

The Famous brand name dates back 1912 when Paramount Pictures founder Adolf Zukor created Famous Players. In 1942 when the studio removed the Fleischer brothers and established their own animation studio, they named it Famous Studios, a sister company to Famous Music. All that tradition comes to an end today.

  • Do they own music like Mike Judge’s Beavis and Butt-Head theme? Or Jim Smith’s Dog Pound Hop for Ren and Stimpy? Or Primus’ South Park theme? because I recalled them being listed as the owner for the Beavis and Butt-Head song on the credits of Beavis and Butt-head Do America.

    This is even more underwhelming than when Warner Bros. parted with its music division a couple of years back, however, I hope the Famous songs don’t become impossible to license like the notorious Beatles songs.

  • chris

    If you look closely at the cover of the Herman & Katnip sheet music I believe you’ll see that Hal David was one of the co-authors. It was at Famous Music that he first teamed up with Burt Bacharach.

  • Keith Paynter

    It’s going to be interesting to see how Sony/ATV markets their new acquisition. Further in the article, the mention is that publishing rights are become more critical as the music industry suffers at the retail end due to piracy. Music licensing is their salvation, at the expense of the consumer’s nostalgic tendencies.

    Once again, this will become an issue to those who will bemoan the fact that their favorite vintage movies and television shows will be subject to the following caveat: “Some of the music has been changed in this presentation.”

  • uncle wayne

    Well, damn you, Jerry! Now I’ll be humming “Skiddle-Diddle-Dee” til suppertime!!

  • Since Republic never does anything with its stash of Paramount cartoons, I’m not worried about those, but the Beatles songs under Sony/ATV/M.J. are reportedly notoriously difficult to license, and this could have horrible consequences for the Popeye DVD collections if they adopt similar licensing policies for the Famous library.

  • Andrew

    The only other place you can read a sentence with the words “Viacom” and “Michael Jackson” is on a MadLibs piece of paper.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    As if someone’s gonna ask to get the rights to perform “Little Audrey Says”. :-)

  • It is highly unlikely that Sony/ATV will make it any more difficult to license music from Paramount cartoons than it already is. The Beatles songs are likely difficult to license because…well…they’re Beatles songs, and everybody and their mama wants to use them.

    That same alleged licensing difficulty doesn’t apply to much of the rest of their catalog, and certainly not to the constant influx of new compositions being add to the company’s catalog. The Popeye DVDs will be just fine.

    …and I’m sure that Viacom and Michael Jackson are likely to appear in the same sentence more often than never, considering that he was one of the biggest stars MTV ever had.